U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, Northern District of California. (Photo: Jason Doiy)


SAN FRANCSICO — U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson says his last “official” day on the bench will be Friday, Aug. 11.

“I say it that way because I’ve got 37 years of things,” Henderson said during a recent interview in his chambers. “You can see them around—pictures, awards, books, collections of things—and I suspect if I don’t have them out by August 11, they’re not going to evict me.”

Such are the luxuries of “living legend” status.

Prior to being appointed to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, Henderson was the first black lawyer to work for the U.S. Department of Justice on voting rights issue in the Deep South during the Civil Rights Movement. Henderson also helped lead Stanford Law School’s effort to recruit and retain a more diverse student body. On the bench, he’s handled landmark cases on prisoner rights, police oversight, affirmative action, and a host of other issues.

In the podcast below, Henderson discusses why he decided to leave the bench and the “slight pause and regret” he has about leaving at this particular political moment. A more extensive transcript of the interview is set to run on The Recorder’s website on Henderson’s last day.