Federal judge in the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals for the Boston district, of which Puerto Rico is a part. He is the first Puerto Rican on this judicial body.
Juan R. Torruella was born in San Juan on June 7, 1933. He attended high school in New Jersey. He later earned his bachelor’s degree at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1954. He studied law at the Boston University Law School, from which he graduated with his juris doctor degree in 1957. In 1984, he completed a master’s degree in Public Administration at the University of Puerto Rico and another in law at the University of Virginia.
He worked as a lawyer in private practice in San Juan from 1959 to 1974. From 1966 to 1974, he participated in the Central American and Caribbean Games, achieving a second place in the sport of sailing. He also competed in the same sport in the Olympic Games in Montreal in 1976.
On November 18, 1974, Torruella was nominated by President Gerald Ford to fill the post left vacant by Judge Hiram R. Cancio in the United States District Court for Puerto Rico. The United States Senate confirmed his nomination on December 18 and he received his commission two days later. From 1982 to 1984, he served as presiding judge in that court.
On August 1, 1984, then-President Ronald Reagan named him to a new post created on the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals, located in Boston. The Senate confirmed his nomination on October 3 and Torruella received his commission the following day.
The First Circuit has jurisdiction over appeals filed in the states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and the unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico. During his incumbency, Torruella has presided over a large number of cases, among which about 20 to 25 percent come from Puerto Rico.
From 1994 to 2001, he served as the court’s presiding judge. During that time, he was a member of the Executive Committee of the United States Judicial Conference, a body that determines administrative policy for the federal judicial system.
Judge Juan R. Torruella has demonstrated great interest in the political relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States and has lobbied for equal rights for Puerto Ricans. He has put his ideas on paper in the books The Supreme Court and Puerto Rico: The Doctrine of Separate and Unequal (1985) and Global Intrigues: The Era of the Spanish-American War and the Rise of the United States To World Power (2007), as well as articles in various judicial publications such as “The Insular Cases: The Establishment of a Regime of Political Apartheid” (2007). He has also presented many speeches, such as One judge’s attempt at a rational discussion of the so-called war on drugs (1996).
Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: September 11, 2014.
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