Saturday, October 07, 2006

Nuestro Thurgood Marshall

Judge James DeAndaAlthough this item is a month overdue, I thank Michael Olivas for informing me of the death of Judge James DeAnda on September 7. Judge DeAnda, a champion of civil rights, cofounded MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in 1968. In 1979, he became the second federal judge of Hispanic descent when President Carter appointed him to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Michael Olivas describes Judge DeAnda as "our Thurgood Marshall." The comparison is perfect. James DeAnda was the youngest and last surviving member of the team that tried and won Hernández v. Texas, 347 U.S. 475 (1954). Though overshadowed by the contemporaneous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), Hernández remains a leading case on racially biased jury selection. Chief Justice Warren observed that the courthouse in Hernández had "two men's toilets, one unmarked, and the other marked 'Colored Men' and 'Hombres Aquí' ('Men Here')." As previously noted in this forum, Michael Olivas is the editor of Colored Men and Hombres Aquí: Hernández v. Texas and the Emergence of Mexican American Lawyering, the first book-length treatment of Hernández.

Y ahora se busca el Juez DeAnda entre las estrellas y los santos del cielo.


Anonymous Patrick S. O'Donnell said...

Thanks for posting this. The Boston Globe actually edited Elaine Woo's original Los Angeles Times obituary column (with-- albeit in b & w--the photo used here) which I had saved. I remember thinking, 'why has there been so little discussion of this man's accomplishments? why am I learning only now, after his death, what an altogether remarkable man this was?'

10/07/2006 9:11 PM  

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