Leondra R. Kruger, a California Supreme Court Justice who is from Glendale but grew up in South Pasadena, is among the leading candidates on Joe Biden’s list of possible Supreme Court picks, according to the LA Times. Kruger, 43, fits the bill the former had Vice President laid out at the last Democratic debate, where he promised to put an African-American female on the Court.
Kruger, the daughter of pediatricians, has served on the state Supreme Court since early 2015, having been appointed by former Gov. Jerry Brown and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, whose three members at the time included Attorney General and former presidential candidate Kamala Harris. She was the second African American woman on the state’s highest court.
In February, Kruger wrote an opinion that vacated the conviction of Kenneth Earl Gay, who was convicted for the 1983 murder of LAPD officer Paul Verna, citing inadequate counsel.
Kruger graduated from Pasadena’s Polytechnic School as a Presidential Scholar and a National Merit Scholar, has an undergraduate degree from Harvard, and a law degree from Yale Law School.
Her nomination to the state Supreme Court was questioned at first due to her lack of courtroom trial experience. “It was very disconcerting initially, when we found there was not a lot of support for the governor’s appointment,” Tami Lynnette Warren, a past president of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, told Our Weekly – a publication that “was formed in 2004 as a means to reach the affluent African-American communities of Los Angeles with in-depth coverage” – at the time. “It’s always like that. We have to fight harder, smarter, stronger.”
Kruger was a Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General and as an Acting Principal Deputy for six years, during which she argued 12 cases before the US Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government.
She was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School in 2007 and from 2004 to 2006 was an associate at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr LLP. Kruger also served as a law clerk to US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens for the 2003 term and to Judge David S. Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit for the 2002 term. She was an associate at Jenner and Block LLP from 2001 to 2002.
Leondra is daughter of the late Leon Kruger, MD a South Pasadenan and pediatrician who also went to Harvard and got his MD from Boston University in 1951. He flew B-24 aircraft during World War II and ran in the Boston Marathon. Her mother, Dr. Audrey Y. Reid, also a pediatrician, studied at Howard University. She studied infection disease at LAUSC Medical Center and has a master’s in Public Health from UCLA. She is currently on sabbatical from Huntington Plaza Pediatrics in Pasadena.