Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar began serving on the California Supreme Court in January 2015. He was nominated by Governor Jerry Brown, confirmed unanimously by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, and retained by the voters for a full term in November 2014. His previous career was in public service, university administration, and legal academia, with a focus on administrative, criminal, and international law.
A member of the Stanford University faculty from 2001 to 2015, Cuéllar was the Stanley Morrison Professor of Law and Professor (by courtesy) of Political Science. His books, articles, and chapters focus on administrative agencies, criminal justice, executive power, and legislation, among other subjects, and he is co-author of one of the nation’s leading administrative law casebooks. From 2004 to 2015, Cuéllar held leadership positions at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. As Institute Director from 2013 to 2015, he supervised 12 research centers and programs, including the Stanford Center at Peking University. He led university-wide initiatives on global poverty alleviation and cybersecurity, and earlier, co-directed the Institute’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.
Cuéllar also served in the federal executive branch. In 2009 and 2010, while on leave from Stanford, he worked at the White House as Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy. He negotiated provisions in food safety, tobacco, and crack-powder cocaine sentencing reform legislation; convened the White House’s food safety working group and coordinated its response to the BP oil spill; set up the President’s Equal Pay Task Force; worked on the bipartisan repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy; and led efforts to support community-based crime prevention and immigrant integration. He was a presidential appointee, between 2010 and 2015, to the governing council of the U.S. Administrative Conference, an agency designed to improve fairness and efficiency in federal administrative procedures. He co-chaired the U.S. Department of Education’s National Equity and Excellence Commission from 2011 to 2013. Before that, in 2008 and early 2009, he co-chaired the presidential transition team on immigration, borders, and refugees.
Cuéllar is on the boards of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the American Law Institute, and the American Bar Foundation, and is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Within the California Judiciary, he leads the Language Access Implementation Task Force. He was the Barbara Harrell-Bond Distinguished Lecturer at Oxford University in 2012, and earlier was a member of the Silicon Valley Blue Ribbon Task Force on Aviation Security and Technology.
A naturalized U.S. citizen born in northern Mexico, Cuéllar graduated from Calexico High School in California’s Imperial Valley. He received a B.A. from Harvard magna cum laude, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford. After law school, he began his career at the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Enforcement working on disrupting financial and cross-border crime, and clerked for Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He is married to Judge Lucy H. Koh of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. They have two children.