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Judge Harry Pregerson ’50 Wins Annual Haas Public Service Award

By Andrew Cohen

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Harry Pregerson ’50 received UC Berkeley’s Peter E. Haas Public Service Award on April 30. The award—which recognizes grassroots-level activity in the areas of community service, health care, environmental work, and education—honors a UC Berkeley alumnus whose personal efforts have made a significant voluntary public contribution in the United States. 

A first lieutenant in the Marines from 1944–1946 before attending Berkeley Law, Pregerson has been a member of the state and federal bench for 45 years. He began his judicial career on the Los Angeles Municipal Court, later moved to the Los Angeles Superior Court, and was appointed a U.S. District Court judge in 1967. Pregerson has served as an active judge on the Ninth Circuit since 1979.

From the bench, Pregerson helped resolve a longstanding legal dispute over community impacts from a major highway project, and structured a consent decree that created thousands of affordable housing units in the Los Angeles area for those displaced by the I-105 Century Freeway. The resulting Century Housing program also created training and employment initiatives for women and minorities, and established childcare centers. The I-105/110 freeway interchange was officially named after Pregerson, as was a childcare center.

Having dedicated much of his life to helping underserved members of society, Pregerson remains a staunch advocate for the homeless—particularly veterans and families. He has worked with the Salvation Army, the Century Housing program, and U.S. Vets, which provides housing, counseling, and job assistance to thousands of homeless veterans each year and fosters the skills for them to return to the community and remain self-sufficient. Along the way, Pregerson has overseen the construction of shelters, transitional housing, child development centers, and job training facilities, and continues to make frequent visits to the facilities he helped build in Los Angeles County.

In 1989, Pregerson was a co-recipient of Berkeley Law’s annual Citation Award, which recognizes graduates who have made exceptional contributions to the bar, the bench, legal scholarship, the state, the nation, and the world. He shared the honor with his co-worker, J. Clifford Wallace ’55, former chief judge of the Ninth Circuit.

Pregerson received the Haas Award at a ceremony and reception hosted by UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau inside the Bechtel Engineering Center’s Sibley Auditorium, on the north side of campus.