Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections
(Page 4 of 4)

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

August 13, 1989|PHILIP HAGER | Philip Hager is a Times staff writer.

Among other things, he says, the policy dimmed the aspirations of minority students who were young and impressionable. He remembers confiding to a friend his then-ambition to become a naval officer--and that the friend had ridiculed the notion. "Cruz, they won't let you," he said in hushed Spanish.

Reynoso audaciously obtained meetings with school board members, who professed concern over possible racial violence at the school if it was integrated. He also met with community residents--both Anglo and Latino--who thought that the prospect of violence was far-fetched. A public meeting was called and the board, perhaps wary of a lawsuit, announced that the grade school would be desegregated. The audience, he remembers, cheered.

The young Reynoso won a scholarship to Pomona College before going on to Boalt Hall Law School at UC Berkeley. In 1959, he began practicing law in El Centro, but moved on to serve as a government civil-rights attorney. He then became director of California Rural Legal Assistance, a trailblazing legal services agency that survived a funding challenge by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan to win wide acclaim within the legal profession.

He later worked as a professor of labor and constitutional law at the University of New Mexico, and in 1976, he was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the California Court of Appeal in Sacramento. In late 1981, he was named by Brown to the state Supreme Court, succeeding Mathew O. Trobriner, who had retired.

But the incidents that shaped him, that continue to drive him, he says, are those early barrio battles for equality.

"What sticks in my mind most vividly is that the people of the community, both Anglo and Mexican-American, were ready for the change," Reynoso recalls. "Those incidents gave me a sense of confidence that government does respond to a petition for grievances. I realized that so many of the adults were complaining only to themselves about how unfair government can be. So I said, 'Here's something that can be done.' And by golly, something did happen."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|