May 14, 2021 - The legal world lost a champion when Justice Cruz Reynoso passed away last week. The Bar Association of San Francisco sends its deepest sympathies and respects to the Reynoso family. He was a remarkable jurist, advocate, professor, and mentor.
As the first Chicano California State Supreme Court Justice, he served as a role model and inspiration for young Latinos across the nation. Justice Reynoso was a civil rights advocate whose work buoyed immigrants, farm workers, and the rural poor. He was lauded numerous times during his 50-plus years in public service, including with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000 bestowed upon him by President Bill Clinton. He was recognized for his leadership in immigration and refugee policy, government reform, as well as the administration of justice and legal services for the indigent. He was truly a voice for the voiceless.
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. Justice Reynoso helped lead California’s first statewide, federally funded legal aid program in the country, California Rural Legal Assistance.
During his tenure on the California State Supreme Court, he wrote several of the Court’s groundbreaking opinions, including the right for non-English speaking defendants to have interpreters at every phase of the criminal justice process. Justice Reynoso will be remembered as a role model for all of us in how to use one’s career to advance social justice.
We honor and thank Justice Reynoso for all that he did for the legal profession and the broader community.
The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of attorneys, law students, and legal professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF enjoys the support of more than 7,500 individuals, law firms, corporate legal departments, and law schools. BASF provides a collective voice for public advocacy, advances professional growth and education, and attempts to elevate the standards of integrity, honor, and respect in the practice of law.