Cruz & Jeannene Reynoso

Their Story

This page is a tribute page to Cruz and Jeannene Reynoso, my parents. Cruz Reynoso was a civil rights activist and lawyer who was the first Latino appointed to the California Supreme Court, vice-Chair of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton.

Cruz and Jeannene came from very similar backgrounds. Cruz was born and raised in southern California when Orange county was an agricultural area. His father, Juan, was a farm worker and the family often worked on farms over the summer when Cruz was young. Jeannene was born in Detroit and was somewhat of a street kid while her parents both worked. But she, and her siblings, were sent to live in the Appalachian hills of Tennessee with her grand parents and were eventually joined by her parents. Cruz and Jeannene often spoke about how the Chicano culture of Southern California and the Hill Billy culture of northeastern Tennessee were so similar as they were rooted in impoverish, marginalized communities which resulted in similar values. 

After high school, Cruz attended Fullerton College then Pomona College prior to joining the army. Jeannene finished high school and worked locally in Scott County Tennessee until she was recruited to work in the FBI secretarial pool. While in the Army, Cruz worked with the counter intelligence core and was stationed in Washington, D.C. Cruz and Jeannene met while living in the same Washington area housing facility.

Cruz returned to California in 1955 to attend Law School at the University of California at Berkeley. They were married in 1956 in Tennessee by Jeannene's grandfather, a southern preacher. After, graduating law school in 1958 they lived in Mexico City for a year while Cruz studied constitutional law on a Ford Foundation Scholarship.

In 1976, Cruz and Jeannene moved with their four children to their long time family home in rural Northern California. The family was raised on these 30 acres managed by Jeannene. For over 40 years, this home was the center of Reynoso family life.

Cruz spent a sixty year career as a lawyer, jurist, and civil rights activist which brought him diverse experiences. But, at the root of his career was a commitment to social justice. He would often say that social wrongs would cause his "Justice Bone" to hurt. Whether advocating for the Chicano community or the poor, he worked toward equality of opportunity economically, socially, politically, and educationally.

Jeannene's commitments were similar but is far less public. She poured her life into her children, her church, and her community. She sought the betterment of each of these groups. "Nana" was adored by her grand children who she often babysat or took on vacations. She was a quiet pillar of the small country church in which she spent decades. And her quiet commitment to the community helped rebuild parks, contributed to schools and community organizations, and even provided Christmases for those who were without. 

Jeannene passed away from breast cancer in 2007. In 2018, Cruz left public life after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Mom and Dad when Dad Graduated Law School in 1958.

Mom and Dad when Dad received the Hispanic Heritage Award.

The ranch home where Mom and Dad raised their children and was home base for the family for over 40 years.

What I Learned from Mom and Dad

When my parents celebrated their 50th anniversary, we held an event for them at our small country church. As part of that celebration, I wrote the statement below. I was asked to write a little something about what I had learned from my parents. 

What I learned from Mom and Dad:

From Mom, I learned as long as I stay with the Bible I will be okay. Everything of eternal importance is there. If nothing else, we can count on God’s love and the truth of his Word.

From Dad, I learned to follow my passion. Our world is so much about comfort but Dad lives his passion.

From both Mom and Dad, I learned that if you have anything to share you have enough to share and it is my responsibility to share it.

From Mom, I learned to share my time. She always has the time to help and for me there have been times when all I had to offer was my time.

From Mom, I learned that guests need food.

From Mom, I learned that Children are a blessing.

From Dad, I learned to do right despite the consequences.

From Dad, I learned that might does not make right. In fact, sometimes might forgets all about the concept or right.

Form Mom, I learned to brush my teeth. My teeth thank her.

From Dad, I learned that there is more to look forward to in life than retirement.

From Dad, I learned to question. There are often different ways of looking at things and the other way usually is not as stupid as we think it is. If what we believe is true, it can handle the questions.

To Mom’s chagrin, I learned from Dad that they make scooters that can go on the freeway and get great gas mileage.

From Mom, I learned about every person she has ever known who has been hurt on a motorcycle. Now, I have to be careful or she will think that I wasn’t listening.

Finally and maybe most importantly from Mom I learned that you never say “for you and I.”

Mom and Dad (Jeannene and Cruz) at their 50th anniversary celebration.

Videos featuring Cruz Reynoso

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The Role of Latinos in a Changing America with Cruz Reynoso -- Helen Edison Lecture Series

Cruz Reynoso recalls his days working alongside Cesar Chavez in the Community Service Organization and speaks to the influence of Latinos today on immigration, voting rights, police conduct and other contentious public issues. Justice Reynoso is presented by the Helen Edison Lecture Series at UC San Diego.

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Cruz Reynoso: Oral Legal History Project University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Cruz Reynoso discusses his life and career for the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. 

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Hero Award 2014, Cruz Reynoso

The National Hispanic Hero Award is a testimonial, a recognition of contributions made by extraordinary individuals who have unselfishly given of themselves in a lifetime of dedicated service to the Hispanic community of the United States. Cruz Reynoso was the 2014 recipient of the National Hispanic Hero Award. The United States Hispanic Leadership Institute presents this award at their yearly national convention in Chicago.

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Cruz Reynoso Honored for Civil Rights Commitments

Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso was honored at UC Davis with a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to public service law. 

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Pomona College Distinguished Alumni Award

2018 Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award winner and former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso engages in a conversation about his distinguished career in law, public service and education, culminating with his receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Bill Clinton in 2000, and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Award in Education the same year. Reynoso is joined by Kelly Ragsdale ’18, a history major who has worked extensively with Reynoso on his biography and life story, an exploration that began as a Pomona Summer Undergraduate Research Project (SURP) in 2016

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Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice - Trailer

During his extraordinary life, Cruz Reynoso has been one of those rare individuals who are not only shaped by history, they make history. As a child of farm workers, Reynoso felt the sting of injustice, and later as a lawyer, and then the first Latino to sit on the California Supreme Court, he used his "justice bone" to eradicate discrimination and inequality in an effort to make the promise of the American dream a reality for all. CRUZ REYNOSO: SOWING THE SEEDS OF JUSTICE is a compelling portrait of one of America's unsung heroes and the turbulent times in which he lived.

Sowing the Seeds of Justice can be rented or purchased at Vimeo.

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The Internet of Experiences: Listen to the Message from the Cruz Reynoso Task Force

We retrieved, displayed and shared a short video about the Reynoso Task Force findings from an RFID tagged pamphlet. This video was filmed on scene in Woodland, CA. Former State Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso presented the Vanguard Youth Social Justice Award to the UCD students who were pepper sprayed or arrested on the UC Davis Quad November 18, 2011. 

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April 11 Reynoso Task Force Public Hearing

UC Davis Professor Emeritus Cruz Reynoso, a former associate justice of the California Supreme Court, emcees a public meeting at UC Davis to discuss task force conclusions regarding the Nov. 18, 2011, events on the UC Davis Quad. During that day, campus police arrested and used pepper spray on protesters.

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Former CA Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso on the Seeds of Justice

CUS Bakersfield 28th Annual Charles W. Kegley Memorial Lecture, "Sowing the Seeds of Justice: the Central Valley 75 years after the Grapes of Wrath.

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HONORABLE CRUZ REYNOSO

California Senate Demeocrats: Honorable Cruz Reynoso habla de la inmigracion y la educacion. 


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California's First Latino Supreme Court Justice To Address 'Role Of Latinos In A Changing America'

Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso is in San Diego Tuesday for a lecture at UC San Diego in honor of Cesar Chavez Day.

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ABA Journal- Asked and Answered: Lived and Learned - Cruz Reynoso

There are some issues that people with opposing views may never agree on, particularly when one group has significantly more power than the other. But sometimes when an issue is brought to authority figures’ attention, they can be convinced to do the right thing, says Cruz Reynoso, a former California state supreme court justice. In this episode of the Asked and Answered: Lived and Learned series, Reynoso discusses how his father's philosophy as a farmworker inspired him as a labor rights advocate and attorney to always fulfill his own obligations, and to ask those in power to fulfill theirs as well.

The Role of Latinos in a Changing America with Cruz Reynoso -- Helen Edison Lecture Series

Former California Supreme Court Justice and UC Davis School of Law Professor Emeritus Cruz Reynoso recalls his days working alongside Cesar Chavez in the Community Service Organization and speaks to the influence of Latinos today on immigration, voting rights, police conduct and other contentious public issues. Justice Reynoso is presented by the Helen Edison Lecture Series at UC San Diego.

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Rosenberg Foundation

Cruz Reynoso speaks of his experience on the Rosenberg Foundation Board. 

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Searching for Democracy: In the Past - An Engaged Society

This panel focuses historically on how legal, economic, and social structures have shaped the possibility of engagement in the public realm for different populations. With Cruz Reynoso, School of Law, UC Davis; Donna Schuele, Dept. of Criminology, Law, and Society, UC Irvine; Robert C. Smith, Dept. of Political Science, San Francisco State University; Ian Masters, KPFK-FM and UCLA/Hammer Forum.

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Save America's Children

A Martin Luther King Jr. Day discussion with Cruz Reynoso and Karen Moreno of Save America's Children.

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Coffin Lecture 2002 Cruz Reynoso

University of Maine Law- The Honorable Cruz Reynoso, University of California, Davis School of Law A former Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, Reynoso is recognized for his leadership in civil rights, immigration and refugee policy, government reform, the administration of justice, legal services for the indigent and education.

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Artists Round Table: A View from the Bench: Social Justice in Art, Law, and Religion of the Chicano Community

An Artists Round Table concluded an exhibit featuring drawings made by Cruz Reynoso on his case notes while serving on the California State Supreme Court, as well as works by other Chicano artists in the Bay Area. The exhibition was curated by Rondall Reynoso and ran from June 19 through September 21, 2018. The event was held at Graduate Theological Union on September 20, 2018.

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Thirty Years After a Hundred Year Flood: Judicial Elections and the Administration of Justice

This program discusses the California Constitution’s system for electing justices and judges, and how the elections can influence the administration of justice. Featured speakers included UC Irvine School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky and former California Supreme Court Justices Joseph Grodin and Cruz Reynoso.

MCCA 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree Cruz Reynoso

Minority Corporate Counsel Association- MCCA’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree is Justice Cruz Reynoso. Justice Reynoso is the first Latino Associate Justice on the California Supreme Court (1982-1987) and is currently a professor emeritus of law at the University of California, Davis.

2000 Presidential Medals of Freedom Ceremony

President Clinton awarded presidential medals of freedom to several citizens, including Cruz Reynoso, for their work in behalf of peace and democracy both in the U.S. and overseas. The accommodation for Reynoso begins at 45:22.

A variety of C-Span videos featuring Cruz Reynoso can be found HERE.

Cruz Reynoso

A UC Davis Emeriti Association Interview. An Interview of Cruz Reynoso by Kevin R. Johnson

Articles by Cruz Reynoso

I'm Mexican American, I was a Judge. What Trump is doing is appalling.

The people of the United States are increasingly diverse in our religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds. While we still struggle with discrimination, we have learned to live respecting one another.... READ ARTICLE

California Or A Third World Country?

We’re in the midst of a hot, dry summer. While you’re thinking about how you’ll cool off, consider this: four times more Californians than the entire population of Flint, Michigan do not get clean, safe water from the tap in their homes...
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Articles about Cruz Reynoso

Latino lawyers change group name to honor Cruz Reynoso

A wispy-haired octogenarian tried to slip quietly into Sacramento City Hall last week only to be greeted by a bold, brassy blast from a mariachi band and a crush of adoring fans.... READ ARTICLE

As a child, Cruz Reynoso thought it was unfair that the mail carrier’s route ended just two blocks short of his poor Orange County barrio.... READ ARTICLE

The award-winning documentary Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice is airing on public television until October 15th in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month.... READ ARTICLE

Cruz Reynoso has always aggressively pushed the civil rights agenda, and sometimes paid a price.

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Cruz Reynoso Was Swept Off the State Supreme Court With Rose Bird, but Now He’s Found New Causes and a New Career

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R E S U M E for CRUZ REYNOSO

Personal:
Born May 2, 1931 in Brea, California
Married; Four Children

Education:

National University of Mexico, Mexico City; 1958-1959
       Ford Foun­dation Fello­wship for special study in Constitutional Law 
University of California School of Law, Berkeley; LL.B., 1958
George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; 1954-1955 
       Postgraduate course work in Economics and U.S. History
Pomona College, Claremont, CA; A.B., 1953
Fullerton College (formerly Fullerton Junior College), Fullerton, CA; A.A., 1951

Military Service:

U.S.   Army; 1953-55
       Graduated from Counter Intelligence School, Ft. Holabird, Maryland; 
       Special Agent, Counter Intelligence Corps, Washington, D.C.

Professional:

2007-present  Professor of Law Emeritus, UC Davis School of Law, Davis California
2002-2018       Special Counsel, Law Offices of Len ReidReynoso, Galt, CA
2006-2012       Grament Oversite Board, Garmet Workers Trust Fund, Saipan
2001-2006       Boochever and Bird Endowed Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality, Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law, Davis CA
1991-2001       Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, CA
1988-2002       Special Counsel, Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Handler, Los Angeles & New York
1987-1988       Of Counsel, O'Donnel & Gordon, Los Angeles, CA
1982-1987       Associate Justice, California Supreme Court, San Francisco, CA
1976-1982       Associate Justice, Third District Court of Appeal, Sacramento, CA
1972-1976       Professor of Law, University of New Mexico, School of Law, Albuquerque, NM
1969-1972       Director, California Rural Legal Assistance, San Francisco, CA
1968-1969       Deputy Director, California Rural Legal Assistance, San Francisco, CA
1967-1968       Associate General Counsel, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Washington, D.C.
1966                 Staff Secretary to Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sacramento, CA
1965-1966       Assistant Chief, Division of Fair Employment Practices, Department of Industrial Relations, San Francisco, CA
1959-1968       Private Law Practice (Leave of absence 1965-1968), Last Association: Reynoso & Duddy, El Centro, CA
1959-1960       Legislative Assistant to J. William Beard, State Senator from Imperial County, CA

Honors:

2016       Fighting for Justice Award, Mexican American Law Student Association (MALSA), Albuquerque, NM
2016       Cruz Reynoso Bar Association, name changed from Sacramento La Raza Lawyers, Sacramento, CA
2015       Hall of Champions, Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, Washington, D.C.
2013       Hall of Fame, Fullerton College, Fullerton, CA
2012       Honorary Doctor of Law, California State University, Sacramento, Sacramento, CA
2011       Honorary Doctorate of Law, Chapman University, Orange, CA
2011       Lincoln-Juarez Award, Hispanic National Bar Association, Washington, D.C. 
2011       Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance, University of California, Merced, Merced, CA
2009       Distinguished Scholar, John Marshall Law School, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL
2009       CIty of Chicago Resolution Honoring Cruz Reynoso, Chicago, IL
2009       Bernard E. Witkin Medal, California State Bar, Sacramento, CA
2008       Henderson Center’s Trailblazer for Justice, University of California, Berkeley School of Law, Berkeley, CA
2007       U.C. Davis Medal of HonorUniversity of California, Davis, Davis, CA
2007       Robert J. Kutak and Spirit of Excellence Award, American Bar Association, Chicago, IL
2007       Cruz & Jeannene Reynoso Scholarship for Legal Access (established), University of California Davis School of Law, Davis, CA
2003       The Cruz Reynoso Social Justice and Judicial Externship Fellowship (established), University of California Berkeley School of Law, Berkeley, CA
2002       Distinguished Public Service Award, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
2000       Hispanic Heritage Foundation Award in Education, Washington, D.C.
2000       Presidential Medal of Freedom, White House, Washington, D.C.
1997       Honorary Doctor of Law, Thomas Jefferson Law School, San Diego, CA
1995       Professor of the Year, UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, CA
1993       Annually Teaching Award, Society of American Law Teachers, Fort Lauderdale, FL
1991       Honorary Doctor of Law, University of San Diego School of Law, San Diego, CA
1987       Honorary Doctor of Humanities, Pomona College, Claremont, CA
1986       Honorary Doctor of Humanities, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
1984       Honorary Doctor of Humanities, Lincoln University, Lincoln University, PA
1981       Honorary Doctor of Humanities, University of Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
1978       Loren Miller Legal Services AwardState Bar of California

Media:

2010       Cruz Reynoso: Sowing the Seeds of Justice, Dir. Abby Ginzberg, Ginzberg Productions, Berkeley, CA

Academic Publications:

2003       The Lawyer as a Public Citizen, 55 Maine Law Review, 335 (2003)
1999       The Role of Assets in Assuring Equity, 21 University of Arkansas, Little Rock L. Rev. 743 (1999)
1992       Ethnic Diversity: Its Historical and Constitutional Roots, 37, Villanova Law Review, 821 (1992)

Academic Publications about:

2015       Johnson, Kevin. Justice Cruz Reynoso: The People's Justice, Vol. 10, California Legal History 238 (2015)
2012       Roberts, Keith. AN INTERVIEW WITH Justice Cruz Reynoso, The Judges' Journal; Chicago Vol. 51, Iss. 3, (Summer 2012): 4-8

Oral Histories:

2002       Oral history interview with Cruz Reynoso, conducted by Alan Houseman, August 12. 2002. Oral history collection, National Equal Justice Library, Special Collections, Georgetown Law Library
2001       Proctor, Will; Reynoso, Cruz; and University of Pennsylvania Legal Oral History Project, "Interview with Justice Cruz Reynoso" (2001). Legal Oral History Project. 38.

Lectures:

2015       Helen Edison Lecture Series, University of California San Diego, San Diego, CA, April 27, 2015
2015       Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Commission's annual Leadership Awards, Knoxville, TN, January 15, 2015
2009       Human and Civil Rights in America: Obama’s Promise, Pacifica Institute, San Francisco, CA, April 21, 2009
2002       The Eleventh Annual Frank M. Coffin Lecture on Law and Public Service, University of Maine School of Law, Portland, ME, October 17, 2002

Professional Service:

1991-2001       Faculty Adviser, Chicano-Latino Law Review, Los Angeles, CA
1992-1996       American Judicature Society: Board of Directors

Public  Service:

2009                 White House Transition Team, Justice and Civil Rights Sub-team
1993-2005       United States Commission on Civil Rights; Vice-Chair, 1994-2005
1988-1990       Commission on the Delivery of Legal Services to the Indigent Accused, State Bar of California
1987-1990       California Post-Secondary Education Commission; Vice-Chair, 1988-1989; Chair, 1989-1990
1984-1987       Commission on the Teaching Profession, Member Appointed by Superintendent of Education
1979-1981       Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy: (established by Congress) Presidential Appointee
1980                 United Nations Commission on Human Rights - U.S. Delegate Presidential Appointee, Session- Geneva, Switzerland
1978-1979       Presidential Committee to Recommend Potential Appointees as Director of Federal Bureau of   Investigations
1978-1979       State Commission on Government Reform (Post Commission); Gubernatorial Appointee
1978-1979       Ethics Advisory Board (Department of Health, Education and Welfare)

Community Service:

2017-2018       California Forward: Leadership Council
2011-2012       U.C. Davis Pepper Spray Commission, Davis, CA
2010-2018       Mario G. Obledo National Coalition of Hispanic Organization: Board of Directors (President 2013)
2009-2013       Independent Civil Rights Commission to Investigate Gutierrez Shooting, Woodland, CA
1990-2018       Children Now: Board of Directors and Leadership Council
1987-2018       Natural Resources Defense Council: Board of Directors and honorary Member of the Board
1991-1992       Council on Foundations: Board of Directors
1987-1989       Latino Issues Forum; Co-Founder & Board of Directors
1977-1993       Rosenberg Foundation: Board of Directors (President, 1989)
1977-1990       The Community Board Program: Board of Directors
1968-2018       Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund,Board of Directors

Professional Affiliations:

2005-2018       Sacramento Bar Association
1976-2018       Ca­lifornia Judges' Association 
1973-2018       American Bar Association
                          - Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar; Council Member, 1977-1980
                          - Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Officer and Coun­cil Member, 1973-1983; Chair, 1981-1982
                          - Standing Committee, Committee on Lawyer Referral and Information Service, 1989-1991
1987-2005       Los Angeles Bar Association
1987-2018       Mexican American Bar Association
1977-2018       La Raza Lawyers Association
1972-2018       Hispanic National Bar Association (Formerly La Raza National Lawyers Association)

* This resume and is built off an abbreviated resume which Dad kept and internet research. I am sure there is plenty that belongs on this page that I do not yet know about. With that in mind if you have content that you think should be added to this page reach out and let me know.

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