Leondra Reid Kruger, a Justice on the California Supreme Court, was born on July 28, 1976, in Glendale, California, to Leon Kruger and Audrey Reid Kruger from Jamaica. Both of her parents were physicians. However, she was reared in South Pasadena. She has two siblings. Editor-in-chief of Polytechnic High School’s newspaper in Pasadena, Kruger graduated from the high school in 1993. She then enrolled at Harvard University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1997. While at Harvard Kruger was a reporter for the Harvard Crimson and was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa key in 1997. In 2001, she earned a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School. While at Yale she was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal, the first Black woman to hold that position.
Kruger clerked for two federal judges. From 2002 to 2003, Kruger clerked for Judge David Tatel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and from 2003 to 2006 she clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens of the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 2006, Kruger was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School, where she taught a class in transnational litigation. And in 2007, she joined the U.S. Department of Justice where she was an Assistant to the Solicitor General and later Acting Deputy Solicitor General. While there, Kruger argued 12 cases before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government. Afterward, in 2013, she served as a deputy assistant attorney general at the United States Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.
In 2014, Kruger was confirmed by a special three-member committee to the California Supreme Court as a judge. At that time, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris was state attorney general. Since 2015, Kruger has been a California Supreme Court justice. In 2018, she authored a noticeable opinion in a 4-3 ruling that upheld the law requiring people arrested for suspected felonies to provide DNA specimens, even before charges are filed. In 2019, she authored several more opinions, including one reflecting a unanimous court that allowed a death row inmate, who claimed racial discrimination during jury selection, to review a prosecutor’s notes. She also wrote the opinion in a unanimous ruling that upheld a white supremacist’s convictions and two years later in 2021, Kruger wrote a unanimous decision regarding sexual abuse of minor plaintiffs training for the Olympics in taekwondo by their coach. The decision held that the athletes could sue USA Taekwondo but not the U.S. Olympic Committee because the Committee did not have a duty to protect or care for the plaintiffs.
Justice Kruger is married to attorney Brian Hauck. The couple have a son and daughter.
In 2022, Justice Leondra Kruger was a frontrunner on President Joseph Biden’s shortlist to replace Justice Stephen Breyer as the first Black Female U.S. Supreme Court Justice. President Biden ultimately nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit.