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The Honorable Audrey Collins

Federal District Court Judge Audrey B. Collins was born on June 12, 1945 in Chester, Pennsylvania to Dr. Furman L. Brodie Jr. and Audrey Moseley Brodie. She attended Yeadon High School in Yeadon, Pennsylvania, where she graduated as valedictorian of her class. Collins attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, earning her B.A. degree in political science in 1967. That year, she received Howard University’s Woman of the Year Award and married her husband, Dr. Tim Collins. In 1969, she earned her M.A. degree in public administration from American University’s School of Government and Public Administration. In 1974, Collins returned to school to earn her law degree from the University of California at Los Angeles. She was a member of the UCLA Law Review, and earned her J.D. degree in 1977, graduating with the Order of the Coif.

In 1977, Collins served as an assistant attorney of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and in 1978, she was hired as a deputy district attorney of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. In 1987, Collins was promoted to head deputy at the Torrance Branch office. She was then appointed as the assistant director of the Bureaus of Central and Special Operations the following year. In 1992, she was named the assistant district attorney and a deputy general counsel in the Office of the Special Advisor, where she served as counsel to the Los Angeles Police Department Board of Commissioners. Two years later, President Bill Clinton nominated Collins for a seat on the District Court for the Central District of California. She served as chief judge for the court from 2009 through September, 2012.

In 1988, Collins received the Loren Miller Lawyer of the Year Award by the John M. Langston Bar Association. In 1994, she was awarded the National Black Prosecutors Association’s Distinguished Service Award, and, in 2006, she was presented with the Bernard Jefferson Judge of the Year Award by the John M. Langston Bar Association. In 2012, Collins was awarded both the Outstanding Jurist Award from the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award. She is a member of the National Bar Association, the Los Angeles County Bar Association, the Black Women Lawyers of Los Angeles County, the John M. Langston Bar Association, Women Lawyers of Los Angeles, and the National Association of Women Judges.

Collins and her husband have two adult children, one whom is an actor and the other an attorney.

Judge Audrey B. Collins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 18, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.344

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/18/2013 |and| 11/14/2014

Last Name

Collins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

B.

Schools

Yeadon High School

American University

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

William B. Evans Elementary School

Howard University

First Name

Audrey

Birth City, State, Country

Chester

HM ID

COL25

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Santa Barbara, New York City

Favorite Quote

Let's Just Get It Done.$

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/12/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pie

Short Description

Federal district court judge The Honorable Audrey Collins (1945 - ) served in the Central District of California from 1994 to 2013. She was the court's chief judge from 2009 to 2012.

Employment

United States District Court

L.A. County District Attorney's Office

University of Southern California

Los Angeles Unified School District

Model Cities

District of Columbia Public Schools

Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher LLP

California Court of Appeal, District 2

Favorite Color

Blue

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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Audrey Collins' interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Audrey Collins lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her mother's intelligence

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers ice deliveries at her maternal grandparents' home

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her paternal relatives' migration to the North

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her family's roots in the Presbyterian church

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes how her parents met

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her early experiences of religion

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Audrey Collins lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her parents' reasons for leaving Chester, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls the discrimination against her family in Yeadon, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her friendship with Donald Bogle

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers her mother's students

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers her elementary school teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes the grade levels at Yeadon Junior Senior High School in Yeadon, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers the music and television of her youth

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her extracurricular activities

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her father's political affiliation

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls her summer employment

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers visiting the campus of Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her professors at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers the civil rights activism at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers President Lyndon Baines Johnson's speech at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls the start of her interest in law

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers joining the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls teaching at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her husband's dental career

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her early jobs in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers the Watergate scandal

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers the School of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her experiences of discrimination she faced at the University of California, Los Angeles

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers her transition from private practice to the district attorney's office

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls her work at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls her work at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her neighborhoods in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about the civil unrest in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about the case of the State of California v. Soon Ja Du

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers the Rodney King trials

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers her role on the Committee of Bar Examiners

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers her nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her work as a federal district judge

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her staff

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about the need for new judicial positions

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers her ruling on Humanitarian Law Project v. Reno

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls upholding the removal of nativity scenes from public property

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers a child custody case involving the U.S. Marine Corps

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Audrey Collins' interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers her work with Johnnie Cochran

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls serving as the legal advisor to the grand jury

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her career at the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls serving as a head deputy of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her position in the Association of Deputy District Attorneys

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls her role as an assistant bureau director of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her awards and honors

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her role in the Los Angeles County Bar Association

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about police brutality in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes the changes in criminal justice in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers applying for a federal judgeship

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers her judicial confirmation hearing

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes the history of African American judges in California

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about the duties of a federal district judge

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes the outcome of her challenge to the USA PATRIOT Act

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her brother's legal work

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her notable cases

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about the Myspace anti-spam ruling

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers the challenges to the City of Los Angeles' billboard ordinance

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her position as chief district judge

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about her programs to lower recidivism

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - The Honorable Audrey Collins remembers enforcing the rights of disabled prison inmates in Orange County, California

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls serving as chief justice of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her decision to remain an active judge

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her appointment to the California Second District Court of Appeal

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - The Honorable Audrey Collins talks about the duties of an appellate judge

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her judicial philosophy

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her plans for the future

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - The Honorable Audrey Collins reflects upon her life

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her children

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - The Honorable Audrey Collins describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

12$5

DATitle
The Honorable Audrey Collins recalls the start of her interest in law
The Honorable Audrey Collins describes her work as a federal district judge
Transcript
Well in terms of p- political science, I know that Howard's political science department had to be a lot different from the civics classes you had in, in Yeadon [Pennsylvania], so what--what did you learn?$$ (Pause) I'm sorry?$$So what did you learn at Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.] that was different from what was at, taught at Yeadon High School [Yeadon Junior Senior High School, Yeadon, Pennsylvania], you know.$$ Well Yeadon, I mean you know that was high school. I'm sure I had civics of some kind because that's what they did then; they don't do it anymore, they don't have civics, which is a great loss. And I know Justice Sandra Day O'Connor you know, one of her goals in life now is to try to restore civics to the curriculum. So I'm sure we had it. But I mean Howard of course was just more in depth, examination of both our political system and then, and then others and some comparisons with other, other countries, essentially, parliamentary system, et cetera. So I mean it was, it was a very good program, and I can't say that there was any one thing that made me think I wanted to study law. But just being in that environment at that time, even from high school on, although high school was very different. You began to realize I mean people like Thurgood Marshall are in this environment. You know we have the [U.S.] Supreme Court downtown and all of these changes taking place. And this is an area in which you could do some good. To tell you the truth, I initially was interested in criminal defense because that seemed--I mean very logical at the time. You wanna defend people. It wasn't until later events took place that I switched over and became a prosecutor, both because that was where the opportunity was at the time, and I came to realize that you--there's really a lot of power in the prosecution. They are the people who decide whether to bring the charges in the first place. They have a lot of discretion in how a case is disposed of, which has to do with sentencing, and most of the victims are black or people of color across the country, and certainly here in L.A. [Los Angeles, California]. But the goal, at the time you know, you thought well I'm going--I wanna obviously gonna defend, you know. So certainly being in that atmosphere at Howard. I mean there were so many things going on. Even the fine arts, you know, was amazing. I didn't know Debbie Allen at the time, I think she was behind me. But just that--here you are and you know, you can do anything. Which was something my mother had already instilled in us of course that there's no limit because you're African American or a woman or whatever. And in fact I remember when I went through that phase, Future Nurses of America, I'm gonna be a nurse. My mother said, "Well why don't you wanna be a doctor?" And I thought okay. But I, I, I didn't at the time. I mean to me it was a nurse. And she's like, "No, why don't you wanna be a doctor?" So our--I think our, our parents [Audrey Moseley Collins and Furman Brodie, Jr.] raised us to obviously you're gonna get educated, you're--and you can do whatever you want. You decide what to do.$How'd you like the job? I mean you're still do- doing it, so you must like it (unclear).$$ Yes. No it's, it's a wonderful job. Both being a trial, trial judge and then the time I was chief judge. The variety is one of the best things. I mean there's some negative things about the system that aren't working right now; we're not getting new judgeships. We haven't had any new judgeships since 1990 and look how our population in the Central District [Central District of California] has boomed since then. So our caseload has just sort of gone up exponentially. But the variety is fun because you get to do everything, unlike many courts that are divided into departments, which makes a lot of sense. You know you either do criminal or you do civil, you do probate, you do family law, you know you do long cause trials, you do juvenile. We do everything. I mean I get civil and criminal cases, all at the same time. I get motions in criminal and civil all at the same time. You might be doing a criminal trial, you might be doing a civil trial. And the variety of cases within the civil arena is breathtaking. From constitutional law to things that are removed from state courts. You get your Fair Labor Standards Act [Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938], as well as your state labor code violations. You can get many employment law discrimination cases under both federal and state law. Discrimination based on sex, age, gender, race. Your Americans with Disabilities Act [Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990]. And again a lot of these also have state law counterparts. You get a lot of Americans Disabilities Act. And then you just get cases that are removed from state court because the defendant is not a California corporation. So again, a lot of California labor code, wage and hour violations, you know I didn't get my overtime, I didn't get my rest period, breach of contract. Just regular old breach of contract. I have a huge one involving Boeing [The Boeing Company] and some international corporations over some big deal they tried to do, Sea Launch [Sea Launch Company, LLC; Energia Overseas, Ltd.]. They were gonna launch satellites into space and it failed and everybody's suing everybody else. It's breach of contract. But they're from all different places, so there's diversity. So I've got, I've got breach of contract. It, it's just amazing--like copyright and intellectual property. Copyright, trademark, patent, just a little bit of admiralty law, not much but you know, if, if it's admiralty law, it has to come here [U.S. District Court for the Central District of California]. A little bit of--occasionally like a railroad case under the railroad act has to come here. So you truly never know what you're gonna get. I mean after nineteen years, I still see new stuff where I look at--I go, "What is this? I've never seen this before."