Crime & Justice

Patriarch of LA County legal family dies

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A funeral mass is scheduled today in Chino Hills for a man whose influence continues in the Los Angeles County courts. KPCC’s Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.

Peter Espinoza carried his proud Spanish-speaking heritage throughout his life, from his Arizona upbringing to his 27 years as an L.A. County court interpreter. Eighty-three-year-old Espinoza died a week ago.

His colorful life included two tours of duty in the South Pacific as a U.S. Marine during World War II. Half a century ago he also helped to create the first organization to elect more Latino politicians, the Mexican American Political Association. Peter Espinoza wasn’t a lawyer. But he did value the courts’ role in helping the then-underrepresented Mexican American population to achieve social equality in Southern California.

His legacy will likely continue in the courts. His son Peter Espinoza Jr. is supervising judge of the L.A. County Superior Court’s criminal division. And Espinoza’s grandson, Miguel Espinoza, is an L.A. County deputy district attorney.