Deepest condolences to the family and friends of civil rights legend, Justice Cruz Reynoso, who passed away today. Justice Reynoso was the first Latino Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, first Latino appointed to the Third District Court of Appeals and one of the first Latino law professors in the country. A native of California, Justice Reynoso grew up in a family of farmworkers who immigrated from Jalisco, Mexico. As a child growing up, he picked grapes, walnuts and plums in the Central Valley. He was told that he would never attend college.
Justice Reynoso not only went to college, but law school and later became one of the co-founders and the first Latino director of California Rural Legal Assistance. He fought for striking farmworkers and advised Cesar Chavez. “When your justice bone is hurt very often you need to be a trouble-making person,” he would say.
His legacy included helping to draft the 1986 “amnesty” bill under President Reagan, which allowed nearly 3 million undocumented immigrants to gain status. In 2000, Justice Reynoso received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, for his efforts to address social inequities and his public service. Justice Reynoso’s life was commemorated in a 2010 documentary by Abby Ginzberg called “Cruz Reynoso: Sowing Seeds of Justice.”
In 2016, the Sacramento chapter of the state’s preeminent Latino lawyers group, La Raza Lawyers, decided to rename itself the Cruz Reynoso Bar Association in his honor. Justice Reynoso helped found the organization four and a half decades ago. Learn more about Justice Reynoso in this video narrated by clinic alum Brian Lopez, ’12 current president of Cruz Reynoso. And find his full obituary in the L.A. Times.
Thank you for your legacy, Justice Reynoso. Si se puede!