Harris Co. judge remembered for barrier-breaking, decades-long ascent to bench

Thursday, February 14, 2019
Harris Co. judge died a week after discovering her cancer
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ABC13's Steven Romo speaks with the family of a Harris Co. judge who served only a month on the bench before passing away from cancer.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Harris County Judge Cassandra Holleman only got to serve one full month on the bench before pancreatic cancer claimed her life.

RELATED: Newly elected Harris County misdemeanor judge has died

"I want people to know how eager she was to make a difference in the justice system," her daughter Brandy Holleman said.

The honorable judge's journey to the bench was decades in the making.

"She took care of my grandmother. She took care of us. It was always about other people. She finally had a chance to be Judge Holleman," Brandy said.

The judge was first diagnosed with bronchitis. Then, she started having back pains. It wasn't until Super Bowl Sunday just over a week ago that her cancer diagnosis was confirmed.

She kept showing up to work until she was hospitalized.

"Her last week of work was very hard, but she would not call in," Brandy said. "I dropped her off because she couldn't walk. She was wheezing and struggling to breathe."

A widow since 1992, Holleman raised her two children and took care of her own mother who died more than a year ago. Holleman leaves a legacy of fighting for equality in the justice system. Her granddaughter Stricen Carter tells us she also leaves plenty of "Black Girl Magic" in her wake.

"Breaking barriers, hard work, education, dedication. It was amazing to see it all pay off," Carter said.

Holleman was among the sweep of nearly 20 new black women to become judges in the county during the last election.

"Her life was fighting for change and she put herself on the front lines," Carter said.

Though the community lost a leader and this family lost a matriarch, she leaves us with an example and an inspiration.

"She was still fighting just struggling for every breath just to be here, and her goal was to try to get back to work. She said, 'I love my job. I have to get back,'" Brandy said.

Judge Holleman's funeral is set for this Saturday at Good Hope Baptist Church on North McGregor at 11 a.m. It is open to the public.

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