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Hardesty receives top honor from Judson

Chilton County district judge Rhonda Jones Hardesty received the 2009 Outstanding Alumna Award at Judson College April 4 as part of the college’s annual J-Day celebration.

Hardesty is a 1977 graduate of Judson where she was named an Outstanding Senior and earned a bachelor of science degree. She began her teaching career at Jemison High School and inaugurated the first girl’s varsity basketball team in the county. Within three years her team was ranked second in the state and played in the state championship in Birmingham.

While teaching, Hardesty began attending evening classes at the Birmingham School of Law where she received the American Jurisprudence Award for outstanding achievement in criminal law.

After her graduation in 1985, she became the first female president of the Chilton County Bar Association. She was also a member of the American Bar Association, the Alabama Trial Lawyers Association and a member of the Volunteer Lawyers Program, which provides free legal services to indigent defendants.

Hardesty was selected Outstanding Young Attorney in 1992 by the Chilton County Business and Professional Women’s Club and was subsequently selected by the club as their Woman of the Year.

In 1998 she was elected Chilton County district judge and was re-elected in 2005. She now has a special appointment as district and circuit judge for Autauga and Elmore Counties.

Hardesty received the Community Intensive Treatment for Youth Citizen of the Year Award in 2003 recognizing her service and generosity to Chilton County families.

She received the Howell Heflin Award in 2005 for her service and commitment to drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Hardesty is one of two Alabama judges currently serving on the chief justice’s Access to Justice Commission, which assures legal access for the state’s low-income residents who suffer disparate access barriers to the civil justice system.

Hardesty also established a college scholarship program through the juvenile court for Chilton County students.

Hardesty is the daughter of the late Jake Jones and Peggy Jones and the wife of Chilton County businessman Ray Hardesty. She is a member of the West End Baptist Church in Clanton.