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Judge Harry Pregerson's hat sits on podium at packed Shrine Auditorium for a ceremony to celebrate his life

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To his critics he was a Bleeding Heart Liberal on the Notorious 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – a would be Social Engineer – an Activist who “ruled with his

heart instead of his head.”

A judge for over 50 years, when he died, still on the bench at 94, it was said: “In the field of law and public interest there are stars – there are superstars – and then, there’s HARRY PREGERSON."

9th CIRCUIT COWBOY is the story of Judge Harry Pregerson who, for almost half a century, served on California’s famously liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and was known for placing his personal scruples over what he discounted as abstract legalities. “I looked upon being a judge,” he said, “as a chance to help as many people as I could through the law.”

Growing up during the Depression in diverse East Los Angeles, Harry enlisted in the Marines in World War II and served in the Pacific. In the bloody Battle for Okinawa, he received a field commission to lieutenant after suffering severe gun shot wounds to his legs. After the war, he went on to become a lawyer, a district court judge and ultimately one of the most admired, and sometimes scorned, appellate judges in the United States -- a champion for veterans, the homeless, the poor and the powerless.


Producer/Director Terry Sanders, is a two-time Academy Award-winning

director, writer, producer and five time Oscar nominee who has produced over 70

award-winning narrative and non-fiction films.


American Film Foundation is a 501(c) 3 Santa Monica based educational film

production company.

Judge Pregerson's precedent to halt construction of an the Century Freeway for seven years, because it would disproportionately uproot poor people


“I started tearing up the moment your perfect movie started.  It’s just fantastic!
I can’t say enough about how moving, wonderful, and perfectly composed
it is! Thank you again and again!  It’s better than I could have hoped.”

Rollins Emerson, U.S. Court of Appeals

“This is a very moving film and I think many will take a look at how they can better serve with their own lives.  He was relentless with a charisma that recruited people into his army for social change. ”

Bob Zaugh, Publisher/Activist

“What a moving, human and galvanizing film you have made. What a granite of conscience Judge Harry Pregerson was! Your filmmaking made my eyes well up more often than I would admit. Bravo and thank you for this brilliant gift.

George Takei

To those who loved him, he was a hero – a tough, tenacious, cantankerous, loveable hero – a proud Marine who took to heart – both on and off the bench –

the motto:

“Leave no one behind.”

Judge Harry Pregerson in the halls of justice photo by Jason Doiy for ALM

The Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange 

(Background image)

A 130 foot–tall stack interchange near the Athens and Watts communities of Los Angeles. It is formed by the intersection of Interstate 105 and Interstate 110. 

"A Concrete Accomplishment"  

Los Angeles TIMES

Harry Pregerson, the well loved US judge for the 9th Circuit court of appeals

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