James DeAnda (August 21, 1925 – September 7, 2006) was an American attorney and United States federal judge, noted for his activities in defense of Hispanic civil rights, particularly as a plaintiff's attorney in Hernandez v. Texas.
Early life and education
Born in Houston, Texas to Mexican immigrants, DeAnda's attendance at Texas A&M was interrupted by World War II service in the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific. Graduating from Texas A&M in 1948, he then received an LL.B. from the University of Texas in 1950.
DeAnda reported later in life that he had not faced much discrimination during his schooling, possibly due to his more Mediterranean-sounding surname and light complexion. However, upon graduation from the University of Texas, he discovered that initially promising interviews with elite law firms led to no follow-up once the potential employers learned that his parents were from Mexico. As a result, he ended up practicing law alongside other Mexican-American lawyers in Houston like John Herrera, working to provide counsel to Hispanic up and down the Gulf Coast who could not find equitable representation elsewhere. It was in this capacity that he came face to face with the discrimination Mexican-Americans faced daily in the 1950s.
He was in private practice in Houston, Texas from 1951 to 1955, and in Corpus Christi, Texas from 1955 to 1979. In the early 1950s, he was on the plaintiff's team in Hernandez v. Texas, writing most of the briefs. In the late 1960s, he was among those who organized the Texas Rural Legal Assistance Organization and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
On February 13, 1979, DeAnda was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to a new seat on the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas created by 92 Stat. 1629. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 10, 1979, and received his commission on May 11, 1979. He served as chief judge from 1988 until retiring from the bench on October 1, 1992. After retirement, he returned to private practice in Houston until 2005.
- Austin American-Statesman, "Retired judge fought to defend Hispanics civil rights in Texas", 10 September 2006
- Houston Chronicle, "James deAnda" (editorial), 8 September 2006
- Ruiz, Rosanna, Houston Chronicle, "Houston judge had a major role in a landmark ruling on Hispanic rights", 8 September 2006
- Wilson, Steven H., Law and History Review Vol. 21, Issue 1, "Brown over 'Other White': Mexican Americans' Legal Arguments and Litigation Strategy in School Desegregation Lawsuits," Spring 2003
- James DeAnda at the Biographical Directory of Federal Judges, a public domain publication of the Federal Judicial Center.