Professor of Law Emeritus, UC Davis School of Law
Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality
Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient
Former Associate Justice, California Supreme Court
Vice Chair, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
American Bar Association Robert J. Kutak Award recipient
Director, California Rural Legal Assistance
UC Davis Medal of Honor recipient
Professor and former Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, Cruz Reynoso has dedicated his life to public service championing the underdog in civil rights, immigration and refugee policy, government reform,
and legal services for the poor. Although Cruz Reynoso began his career in private practice, it wasn’t long before he took leave to serve the public. He became the assistant director of the California Fair Employment Practices Commission and later served the federal government as associate general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in Washington, D.C. He returned to California in 1968 to head California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA). In 1972, Reynoso joined the faculty at the University of New Mexico School of Law. In 1976,
He was appointed associate justice of the California Courts of Appeal. In 1982, Reynoso became the first Latino to be appointed an associate justice of the California Supreme Court. Reynoso later returned to private practice, and resumed his teaching career by joining the UCLA School of Law. In 2001, he became the inaugural chair holder of the Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality at the UC Davis School of Law. Continuing his longstanding commitment to public service, Reynoso has also served as Vice Chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, as well as a member of the Select Commission on Immigration and Human Rights.
In 2000, President Bill Clinton honored Cruz Reynoso with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, for his lifelong devotion to public service. Reynoso has also been honored with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Hispanic Heritage Award in Education and the American Bar Association’s Robert J. Kutak and Spirit of Excellence Awards, for his significant contributions toward increased cooperation between legal education, the practicing bar, and the judiciary. Last year, he received the UC Davis Medal of Honor, the highest tribute bestowed by the campus, honoring individuals of rare accomplishment.