United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
The United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico is a U.S. district court.
Vacancy warning level
The United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico's vacancy warning level is currently set at yellow. The court currently has one vacancy out of their seven posts, constituting 14% of their seats. There are no pending appointments for the district.
The jurisdiction of the District of Puerto Rico consists of all the municipalities in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The court is based in San Juan with the main building being the Clemente Ruiz Nazario U.S. Courthouse located in the Hato Rey district of San Juan.
When decisions of the court are appealed, they are appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals based in Downtown Boston at the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse, but hears appeals at the Old San Juan courthouse for two sessions each year.
The District of Puerto Rico has original jurisdiction over cases filed within its jurisdiction. These cases can include civil and criminal matters that fall under federal law.
|Federal Court Case Load Statistics*|
|Year||Starting case load:||Cases filed:||Total cases:||Cases terminated:||Remaining cases:||Median time(Criminal)**:||Median time(Civil)**:||3 Year Civil cases#:||Vacant posts:##||Trials/Post|
|*All statistics are taken from the Official Federal Courts' Website and reflect the calendar year through September. **Time in months from filing to completion.|
#This statistic includes cases which have been appealed in higher courts. ##This is the total number of months that any all judicial posts had spent vacant that year.
|Main Office||Federico Degetau Federal Building, Room 150
150 Carlos Chardón Street
|Satellite Office||José V. Toledo U.S. Courthouse
300 Recinto Sur Street
The District of Puerto Rico was established by Congress in 1900 with one judge appointed to a 4 year term. In 1915 the court was assigned to the First Circuit and in 1938 the judge's term of office was increased to 8 years. Then in September 12, 1966, the judgeships were made lifetime positions and the court was elevated to the same status as other United States District Courts. Over time 6 additional judicial posts were added for a total of 7 current posts.
Prior to 1966, all appointments to the court were considered Article I appointments, which did not carry life tenures. After 1966, the appointments were considered article III appointments and carried lifetime terms. The following table highlights the development of judicial posts for the District of Puerto Rico:
|1900||31 Stat. 77||1|
|1961||75 Stat. 80||2|
|September 12, 1966||80 Stat. 764 Court status elevated||2|
|June 2, 1970||84 Stat. 294||3|
|October 20, 1978||92 Stat. 1629||7|
For a searchable list of opinions, please see Opinions of the District of Puerto Rico.
| • Police Chief prohibition case Judge(s):Arthur Fuller Odlin|
|Judge Odlin was the first judge for the District of Puerto Rico to preside over a major corruption case within the territory's police department. The police department acquired information concerning an investigation occurring which accused the police department and other top goverment officials of flagrant violations of the prohibition laws preventing the sale and consumption of alcohol across the U.S.. As the trial date approached, Judge Odlin ordered police chief Colonel George Shanton to surrender the evidence against the department and public officials. Shanton wrote to judge Odlin and requested an exemption from the order as he had already "disposed" of the evidence. He was held in contempt of court, arrested for two days and immediately fired. |
| • Puerto Rican right to vote Judge(s):Jaime Pieras|
*Igartua de la Rosa v. United States 107 F. Supp. 2d 140(D.P.R. 2000)
|In this case, Judge Pieras established the right of Puerto Ricans to vote for the President of the United States. Pieras used his opinion to highlight what he felt were glaring civil rights violations based on Puerto Rico's status within the United States. The ruling was later overturned at the appellate level.|
The court is based in San Juan. The main building is the Clemente Ruiz Nazario U.S. Courthouse located in the Hato Rey district of San Juan. The Magistrate Judges are located in the adjacent Federico Degetau Federal Building, and several senior district judges hold court at the old courthouse in Old San Juan. The old courthouse also houses the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
|2.1 Active Judges|
|2.1.1 Article III judges|
|2.1.2 Pending appointments|
|2.1.3 Senior judges|
|2.2 Past judges|
|2.2.1 Former Chief judges|
|2.2.2 Former judges|
Article III judgesSee: Article III federal judge
The United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico has 7 posts and 1 vacancy. The current Chief Judge is Aida Delgado-Colon. This is a list of the current judges on the court:
|Judge Jose Fuste||1943||San Juan, PR||Reagan||10/28/1985 - Present||2004 - 2011||Juan Torruella||U. of Puerto Rico, B.B.A., 1965||U. Puerto Rico Law, LL.B., 1968|
|Judge Carmen Cerezo||1940||San Juan, PR||Carter||6/30/1980 - Present||1993 - 1999||New Seat|92 Stat. 1629||Puerto Rico U., B.A., 1963||Puerto Rico U. Law, J.D., 1966|
|Judge Jay Garcia-Gregory||September 19, 1944||San Juan, PR||Clinton||7/11/2000 - Present||Raymond Acosta||Assumption College, A.B., 1966||Puerto Rico U. Law, LL.B., 1972|
|Chief Judge Aida Delgado-Colon||1955||Lares, PR||W. Bush||3/17/2006 - Present||4/14/2011 - Present||Salvador Casellas||University of Puerto Rico, B.A., 1977||Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, J.D., 1980|
|Judge Gustavo Gelpi||1965||San Juan, PR||W. Bush||8/1/2006 - Present||Hector Laffitte||Brandeis University, B.A., 1987||Suffolk University Law School, J.D., 1991|
|Judge Francisco Besosa||October 26, 1949||San Juan, Puerto Rico||W. Bush||9/27/2006 - Present||Juan Perez-Gimenez||Brown University, A.B., 1971||Georgetown University Law Center, J.D., 1979|
There are no current pending appointments for the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico.
Senior judgesSee: Federal judges on senior status
The United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico has 3 judges on senior status currently. This is a list of the current senior judges on the court:
|Senior Judge Salvador Casellas||Clinton||9/29/1994 - 6/10/2005||6/10/2005 - Present||Georgetown U., B.S.F.S, 1957||Puerto Rico U. Law, LL.B., 1960|
|Senior Judge Daniel Dominguez||Clinton||9/29/2004 - 7/31/2011||7/31/2011 - Present||Boston U., B.A., 1967||Puerto Rico U. Law, LL.B., 1970|
|Senior Judge Juan Perez-Gimenez||Carter||12/6/1979 - 3/28/2006||1984 - 1991||3/28/2006 - Present||Puerto Rico U., B.A., 1963||Puerto Rico U. Law, LL.B., 1968|
|Magistrate Judge Camille Velez-Rive|
|Magistrate Judge Bruce McGiverin|
|Magistrate Judge Marcos Lopez|
|Magistrate judge Silvia Carreno-Coll|
Former Chief judges
|Jose Toledo||1974 - 1980|
|Hernan Pesquera||1980 - 1982|
|Juan Perez-Gimenez||1984 - 1991|
|Hector Laffitte||1999 - 2004|
|Gilberto Gierbolini-Ortiz||1991 - 1993|
|Hiram Cancio||1967 - 1974|
|Carmen Cerezo||1993 - 1999|
|Jose Fuste||2004 - 2011|
In order to qualify for the office of Chief Judge in one of the federal courts, a judge must have been in active service on the court for at least one year, be under the age of 65, and have not previously served as Chief Judge. A vacancy in the office of Chief Judge is filled by the judge highest in seniority among the group of qualified judges. The Chief Judge serves for a term of seven years or until age 70, whichever occurs first. The age restrictions are waived if no members of the court would otherwise be qualified for the position. Unlike the Chief Justice of the United States, a Chief Judge returns to active service after the expiration of his or her term and does not create a vacancy on the bench by the fact of his or her promotion. See 28 U.S.C. § 45.
These rules for Chief Judges in the federal judiciary have been in effect since October 1, 1982. The office of Chief Judge was created in 1948. Until August 6, 1959, the position was filled in each federal court by the longest-serving judge who had not elected to retire on what has since 1958 been known as senior status or declined to serve as Chief Judge. From then until 1982 it was filled by the senior such judge who had not turned 70.
|Seat 1||Seat 2||Seat 3|
|Seat 4||Seat 5||Seat 6|
|Magistrate judges||Camille Velez-Rive • Bruce McGiverin • Marcos Lopez • Silvia Carreno-Coll •|
|Former Article III judges||
Jaime Pieras • Raymond Acosta • Juan Torruella • Hiram Cancio • Juan Fernandez-Badillo • Gilberto Gierbolini-Ortiz • Hector Laffitte • Hernan Pesquera • Jose Toledo • William Henry Holt • Charles Francis McKenna • Bernard Shandon Rodey • John James Jenkins • Paul Charlton • Peter Joseph Hamilton • Arthur Fuller Odlin • Ira Kent Wells • Robert Archer Cooper • David Chavez Jr. • Thomas Hagan Roberts • Clemente Ruiz Nazario •
|Former Chief judges|