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Governor names federal lawyer, Pasadena native to California Supreme Court  

Gov. Jerry Brown nominated federal government lawyer Leondra R. Kruger to the California Supreme Court last month. At 38, Kruger will be one of the court’s youngest justices ever and its only African-American. If confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, Kruger will succeed Associate Justice Joyce Kennard, who retired from the court earlier in the year.

Kruger’s nomination grabbed headlines around California with observers noting Kruger’s impressive list of accomplishments despite her young age. The Los Angeles Times quoted Santa Clara University Law Professor and high court expert Gerald Uelmen, who called Kruger’s appointment a “mindblower” and theorized it might be part of an effort by Brown “to give the California Supreme Court greater stature nationally.” The Sacramento Bee wrote that Kruger will be joining two other Democrats on the court, which under Brown is looking younger, more diverse and less conservative. Brown also appointed Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, who was born in Mexico, and Goodwin Liu, whose parents immigrated from Taiwan. Both are in their 40s.

A deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice in Washington, Kruger is “perhaps the biggest surprise to date of Brown's picks to the seven-member court,” reported the San Jose Mercury News, adding her selection fits in that the governor prefers “glittering legal résumés to judicial experience.” The Associated Press wrote that Kruger will be only the second black woman to serve on the court and quoted the chairwoman of the California Legislative Black Caucus, who applauded Kruger’s selection.

The Recorder delved into the state Supreme Court nominee’s background – she was born and raised in Pasadena, attended Yale Law School, quickly climbed the legal ranks and has argued a staggering 13 cases before the Supreme Court. The Daily Journal quoted Jeffrey Fisher, a Stanford Law professor who has seen her in action before the Supreme Court. “Many people who have known her have expected whatever she was going to do next was going to be important,” he said. “Did this leap to mind? No. But it makes perfect sense.”