September 14, 2004, Brownsville, Texas, United States
University of Texas School of Law
Reynaldo Guerra Garza (July 7, 1915 – September 14, 2004) was a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He was the first Mexican-American appointed to a federal court when he was appointed to the U.S. District Court, and would later become the first Mexican-American, as well as the first Latin American, appointed to any circuit of the U. S. Court of Appeals.
Early life and career
Born in Brownsville, Texas, Garza received an A.A. from Brownsville Junior College in 1935 and a B.A. from the University of Texas, Austin in 1937. He earned his LL.B. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1939. He was in private practice of law in Brownsville from 1939 to 1942. He served in the United States Army Air Forces from 1942 to 1945, after which he returned to his law practice in Brownsville, where he remained until 1961.
Garza was nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas by President John F. Kennedy on March 24, 1961, to a seat vacated by James V. Allred. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 13, 1961, and received commission on April 14, 1961. He served as chief judge from 1974 to 1979, when his service on the district court was terminated on August 1, 1979, due to appointment to another judicial position.
Garza was nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit by President Jimmy Carter on April 30, 1979, to a seat vacated by William Homer Thornberry. President Jimmy Carter originally asked Garza to serve as the Attorney General of the United States, which he turned down. Had he accepted and been confirmed by the Senate, Garza would have become the first Hispanic Attorney General of the United States. He was confirmed to the Fifth Circuit by the United States Senate on July 12, 1979, and received commission on July 13, 1979.
Garza assumed senior status on July 7, 1982. Garza died on September 14, 2004, in his hometown of Brownsville.