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Carlos Moreno ’70

06/01/2020 @ 10:19 PM

Carlos Moreno was born in Los Angeles in 1948, the son of Mexican immigrants, and grew up in Solano Canyon. Spanish was his first language. He attended public schools. He joined the Yale Class of 70 in 1966 and graduated with a BA in political science in the disruptive spring of 1970 as member of a class that marked the beginning of diversity at Yale. In a speech at the UC Davis School of Law, he told students, “I never in my wildest dreams thought that I could become one of seven judges on the highest court in the state. I want to emphasize to you the idea that no matter what your dreams may be, you can follow them.”

He earned his Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School in 1975. He served in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office prosecuing criminal and civil consumer protection cases. In 1979, he joined the firm of Mori & Ota representing the firm’s business clients in general commercial litigation.

He was appointed in 1986 to the Los Angeles Municipal Court, Compton Judicial District, by Governor George Deukmejian. In 1993 Governor Pete Wilson elevated him to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, where he presided over felony trials. Moreno was nominated by President Bill Clinton on July 31, 1997, to a seat on the United States District Court for the Central District of California. He was confirmed by the Senate on February 3, 1998. Moreno was appointed to the Supreme Court of California following his nomination by Governor Gray Davisin November 2002.

As an Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court, Moreno reviewed on appeal a wide range of civil and criminal cases, which have substantial state and federal constitutional implications. With his appointment to the Supreme Court of California, he became only the third judge of Hispanic heritage to serve in the Court’s nearly 150-year history, and the first in more than a decade, since Cruz Reynoso. Moreno retired from the Court 2011. During his tenure, Justice Moreno authored over 140 majority opinions on a wide range of precedent setting cases, including significant opinions implicating LGBT rights, arbitration, and insurance policy coverage.

In October 2013, the U.S. Senate confirmed Justice Moreno’s appointment as the U.S. Ambassador to Belize, a role he served in until January 2017.

Justice Moreno has been honored with numerous accolades for his work on and off the Bench, recognizing his commitment to equality and justice, his pioneering accomplishments as a Mexican-American, and his work in child advocacy. He has served on numerous community-based organization boards.

The Moreno Prize

Established in the fall of 2009, the Justice Carlos R. Moreno Prize is awarded annually to the best senior essay focusing on the field of Latinx Studies, or on the Latinx experience in the United States. A faculty committee will select the winner who will be announced during the 2019 commencement ceremonies.

The Justice Carlos R. Moreno Prize honors the work and life of celebrated Latino alumnus Carlos R. Moreno, who was perhaps the first Yale undergraduate to write a senior essay in the field of Chicano Studies. Among the first Latinx students to graduate from Yale, he helped organize the Latinx community by founding “Los Hermanos,” which later became MEChA.


Justice Moreno has served as President of the Mexican American Bar Association and has been a member of the California Judges Association, the Presiding Judges Association, and the Municipal Court Judges Association of Los Angeles County. He has served on the Board of Visitors of Stanford Law School. He is a Director of the Arroyo Vista Family Health Center . In 1997, Moreno received the Criminal Justice Superior Court Judge of the Year Award from the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and in 2003 the Roger J. Traynor Appellate Justice of the Year Award from the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles. Justice Moreno served as Chair of the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care. He chaired the Judicial Council’s Bench-Bar-Media Committee.

Yale Service

Moreno has served on the Board of Governors of the Association of Yale Alumni. He is a former President of the Yale Club of Southern California. In 2009 he was awarded the Yale Medal. In 2020 he was voted in as an Alumni Fellow of the Yale Corporation.


10:19 PM
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