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Chicago, IL

For More information: Christiaan Perez, [email protected], 212-739-7581

On August 3, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois the American Bar Association will confer its John Marshall Award to Juan Cartagena, a civil rights and constitutional law attorney who has led LatinoJustice PRLDEF since 2011. Created in 2001 by the ABA’s Judicial Division and Standing Committee on the American Judicial System, the John Marshall Award recognizes individuals who are dedicated to the improvement of the administration of justice. Recipients are chosen among those who make a positive national impact on the justice system by promoting its reform and public awareness.

Mr. Cartagena is the first Latino to receive the John Marshall Award.

The ABA’s press release announcing its award noted that Mr. Cartagena dedicated his life to the pursuit of civil rights, human rights and constitutional litigation that improves the lives of Latinos and other minorities and that he also has worked to increase the number of Latinos in the legal profession. It went on to cite his membership in the ABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities and how he promoted the accurate and uniform translation of the Miranda warning nationwide; his work to restore the voting rights of formerly incarcerated individuals in Florida; his service as a former Municipal Court judge in Hoboken, New Jersey; and his teaching potential lawyers as an adjunct professor at Rutgers University for more than 25 years.

Past recipients of the ABA’s John Marshall Award include former U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, civil rights and public service champion William Coleman, Jr., one Governor, one U.S. Senator, and eight state court judges and justices including former New York Chief Judges Judith Kaye and Jonathan Lippman and Maryland Chief Judge Robert M. Bell whose protest challenging the racial segregation of public lunch counters went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

At LatinoJustice we are proud that one of our own is receiving this national recognition particularly because it comes from the Judicial Division of the American Bar Association. The judiciary branch of government is often the last resort for those of us who represent the most marginalized and vilified segments of our American society. Ensuring that the Latinx community in our country is aware of, and resorts to, a strong and independent judiciary is a cornerstone of Juan’s work as social justice and public interest lawyer.

“On behalf of the HBA-NJ, I am delighted by the ABA's selection of Juan as the recipient of the distinguished John Marshall Award for 2018. Juan has been instrumental in bringing about change through the law for Latino, African American, and other under-represented communities. It is a true testament to all that Juan has accomplished for him to receive national recognition before the ABA for his work,” stated Hector D. Ruiz, President of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey.

Ivette Ramos Alvarez, an exceptional matrimonial law attorney and partner at the New Jersey firm of Einhorn Harris and a long-time supporter of LatinoJustice, promoted Juan’s candidacy for the Marshall award as follows: “I am aware that more often than not, the Award has been bestowed on an exemplary jurist. However, the Marshall Award … goes beyond that; it also seeks to recognize individuals who have dedicated their efforts to addressing issues of public importance and public awareness about the American justice system. It is the right time for the Committee to recognize someone outside the judiciary who is doing just that.”

“Juan has played a critical role in initiating and sustaining meaningful change in our society. His focus on the improvement of the administration of justice and to the advancement of Latinos in the United States are admirable and inspiring,” observed María D. Meléndez, partner at the New York office of Sidley Austin, LLP and Chair of the Board of Directors of LatinoJustice PRLDEF.

Speaking to Mr. Cartagena about how he met the criteria of the award the Hon. Judge James A. Wynn, Jr of North Carolina and the Hon. Judge Nannette A. Baker of Missouri, Co-Chairs of the ABA John Marshall Award Committee, noted that “recipients are chosen from individuals responsible for extraordinary improvements in the administration of justice in respect of judicial independence, justice system reform, and public awareness about the justice system. Your outstanding work over the years has proven you to be a most worthy selection indeed.”

Milagros Camacho, former President of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey endorsed this award by saying “Juan understands the realities of the world we live in. His life’s work is clearly based on the premise that through strength of character and hard work societal issues can be identified and people can be educated about them. As a result, changes, which are often incremental at best, can take place, and lives, which otherwise might be stunted, are allowed to flourish.”

Stephen P. Younger, former President of the New York State Bar Association and a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler noted “Particularly exemplary are Juan’s dedication and commitment to instilling broader awareness and appreciation on the part of the public at large with regard to the country’s justice system. For 25 years, he has motivated and inspired undergraduate students at Rutgers University through his course entitled “Law and the Latino Community in the U.S.” He has also taught at City College of New York, St. Peter’s College in New Jersey and the Interamerican University School of Law in Puerto Rico. This year Juan was honored by the University of Pennsylvania’s Law School and was named their Honorary Fellow-in-Residence for their public interest week.”

The Hon. Lourdes Santiago, Superior Court Judge in Hudson County, New Jersey and lifelong friend of Mr. Cartagena supported this recognition with a personal touch: “Everyone who knows him has had the opportunity to enjoy the different phases of Juan Cartagena. We know him in different ways … an attorney, a judge, a musician, a plenero, quimbambero and community activist but most importantly we know him as a friend. We have become familiar and proud of his many professional accomplishments and the commitment he makes to every project he takes on. There is one thing we know for sure, and that is that Juan Cartagena has always responded “presente” when called upon by the Latino community.”