Justice Cruz Reynoso ’58 died May 7 at age 90. The son of Mexican immigrant farm workers, Reynoso went from working in the fields as a child to becoming the California Supreme Court’s first Latinx justice and an iconic public servant over his remarkable career.
Reynoso spent two years in the Army before attending Berkeley Law. He started his own practice in California’s Imperial Valley, and later joined the area chapter of a Latinx civil rights organization called the Community Service Organization — led by César Chávez.
After serving as associate general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, Reynoso became the first Latinx director of California Rural Legal Assistance in 1968. His tireless efforts in that role led to important physical and environmental protections for farm workers.
Reynoso spent four years as a law professor at the University of New Mexico before being named a California state appeals court judge in 1976. Five years later, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Reynoso to the California Supreme Court, calling him “a man of outstanding intellect, superior judicial performance, high integrity, and … rare personal qualities.”
Each year, the Cruz Reynoso Fellowship supports Latinx Berkeley Law students pursuing otherwise unpaid summer public interest internships and judicial externships. Before the annual gala that helps fund those fellowships, members of La Alianza (formerly the La Raza Law Students Association) would hold a luncheon with Reynoso, an event many alumni say made a major impact on their lives.
Read more about Justice Reynoso here.
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