Leondra Reid Kruger, a California Supreme Court Justice, was born on July 28, 1976, in Glendale, California, to Jamaican parents Leon Kruger and Audrey Reid Kruger. Her parents were both doctors. She was, however, raised in South Pasadena. She has two younger siblings. Kruger, the editor-in-chief of Polytechnic High School’s newspaper in Pasadena, graduated in 1993.
She then attended Harvard University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1997. Kruger worked as a reporter for the Harvard Crimson while at Harvard and was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa key in 1997. She graduated with honors from Yale Law School in 2001. While at Yale she was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal, the first Black woman to hold that position.
Kruger worked as a law clerk for two federal judges. Kruger clerked for Judge David Tatel on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 2002 to 2003, and for Justice John Paul Stevens on the United States Supreme Court from 2003 to 2006.
Kruger was a visiting assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School in 2006, where she taught a transnational litigation class. In 2007, she joined the United States Department of Justice as an Assistant to the Solicitor General, later becoming Acting Deputy Solicitor General. Kruger argued 12 cases before the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government while there. Following that, in 2013, she worked as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the United States Department of Justice.
Kruger was appointed to the California Supreme Court as a judge in 2014 by a special three-member committee. US Vice President Kamala Harris was the state attorney general at the time. Kruger has served on the California Supreme Court since 2015. She wrote a notable opinion in a 4-3 ruling in 2018 that upheld the law requiring people arrested for suspected felonies to provide DNA specimens even before charges are filed.
In 2019, she wrote several more opinions, including one that reflected a unanimous court decision allowing 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 decision that upheld the convictions of a white supremacist, 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 athletes could sue USA Taekwondo but not the US Olympic Committee, according to the decision, because the Committee had no duty to protect or care for the plaintiffs.
Brian Hauck, an attorney, is married to Justice Kruger. They have a son and a daughter.
Justice Leondra Kruger was a frontrunner on President Joseph Biden’s shortlist in 2022 to replace Justice Stephen Breyer as the first Black Female United States Supreme Court Justice. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was eventually nominated by President Biden.