Cruz Reynoso

Cruz Reynoso


Cruz Reynoso held the Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality at the UC Davis School of Law. The son of Mexican immigrants, Reynoso rose to become the first Latino to serve on California’s highest court. He first gained national recognition as director of California Rural Legal Assistance, where he fought for the rights of the rural poor from 1968-1972.

Reynoso served as a jurist with the 3rd District Court of Appeal for California in Sacramento from 1976-1982 and as an associate justice of the California Supreme Court from 1982-1987. Since 1993, he as been an active member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, serving as vice chair since 1994.

Reynoso taught at the University of New Mexico from 1972-1976 and at the UCLA School of Law from 1991-2001. His scholarly publications have included articles on cultural diversity, educational equity, affirmative action, and Cesar Chavez. His most recent scholarship is “Hispanics in the Criminal Justice System,” a chapter in An Agenda for the Twenty-First Century: Hispanics in the United States. He taught in the areas of civil rights, appellate advocacy, labor law, professional responsibility, and remedies.

Reynoso has served on numerous federal, state, and professional boards and commissions concerned with civil rights, immigration and refugee policy, government reform, the administration of justice, legal services for the indigent, and education. He was President Carter’s appointee on the Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy from 1979-1981. In 2000 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, for his lifelong devotion to public service. He is also the recipient of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Hispanic Heritage Award in Education.

Reyoso earned a law degree from Boalt Hall in 1958 and studied constitutional law at the National University of Mexico in 1958-59 under a Ford Foundation Fellowship. He received an associate of arts degree from Fullerton College in 1951 and a bachelor’s degree from Pomona College in 1953.