Skip to main content

Celebrating the Life and Legal Career of Judge Raymond Uno

By March 20, 2024News

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) joins other organizations in Utah and nationally to celebrate the life and career of Judge Raymond Sonji Uno. Judge Uno passed away at the age of 93 on March 8, 2024 at the Veterans Administration hospital in Salt Lake City. Judge Uno was a celebrated attorney and judge. He was also a strong community and civil rights advocate. 

Judge Uno was born in the backseat of a taxi cab in Ogden, UT in 1930, and was named after the taxi driver. His family moved to California in 1938. They lived there until the outbreak of World War II when they were incarcerated in Japanese internment camps, first in California and then in Wyoming. His father passed away from heart problems at the age of 48 while in the Wyoming camp. This time had a profound effect on the trajectory of Judge Uno’s life. In an interview later in his life he explained, “My father was an American citizen, he was a veteran of World War I, active in the American Legion — to me, a very loyal American. That was something I really didn’t understand until I went to college and started taking classes in constitutional law. and going through law school and going through all the different kinds of cases that something like this could happen in America to Americans and that is something I have been working on so it wouldn’t happen to anybody else.” 

After World War II the Uno family chose to move back to Ogden. Judge Uno volunteered to join the Army and served in the 441 Counterintelligence Corps in Tokyo during the Korean War. After being honorably discharged he went to the University of Utah to receive his Bachelors and JD. After graduation he worked for a time in juvenile court before joining the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, where he was the first minority ever hired. He then served for a time in the Utah Attorney General’s Office before being appointed to the Salt Lake bench in 1976. In 1983 Judge Uno ran for a State judicial position, and won. This was one of the last judicial elections held in Utah before they switched to the current appointment system. Judge Uno worked his way up to the Utah 3rd District Court. He was the first minority judge in the State of Utah. He served on the bench for 25 years.

Judge Uno was instrumental in the creation and leadership of organizations in Utah and nationally. He was one of the founders of the Utah Minority Bar Association (UMBA), and served as the group’s first president. He was also active in the Asian Chamber of Commerce and the Utah Citizens Committee for Civil Rights. He also served for a time as the president of the National Japanese American Citizens League.

Judge Uno was a passionate advocate for his clients and for the people he knew he was training to carry on his legacy. When his son asked him why he still worked so hard in his retirement years, Judge Uno replied, “Because if they didn’t need my help they wouldn’t ask. If they ask, I need to help.”

UCLI is grateful for Judge Uno and his contemporaries who took the hard path to make our work possible today. Thank you Judge Uno for your life of service and dedication. Your legacy is truly one which will inspire current and future generations of Utahns to reach their full potential while striving to improve the lives of others in our homes and communities. 

The Uno family will be holding a celebration of life for Judge Uno on Saturday, April 20 starting at 9:30 am at the University of Utah Eccles Alumni House, 155 S. Central Campus Drive, Salt Lake City.



Salt Lake Tribune:

The Rafu Shimpo:


Close Menu