President and General Counsel Juan Cartagena
Juan Cartagena is President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. He is a constitutional and civil rights attorney who has vast experience litigating cases on behalf of Latino and African American communities in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination, language rights, access to public education for poor and language minority children, and housing.
He formerly served as General Counsel and Vice President for Advocacy at the Community Service Society of New York. At CSS he also directed the Mass Imprisonment & Reentry Initiative which focuses on the effects these policies have on poor and minority communities. In the 1990s he worked at the government of Puerto Rico's Department of Puerto Rican Community Affairs in the United States where he served as Legal Director. Previously, he was Associate Counsel at the Community Service Society and before that he worked as a Staff Attorney at the former Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund (now LatinoJustice PRLDEF).
Mr. Cartagena is a former Municipal Court Judge in Hoboken, NJ. From 2005 to 2011, Mr. Cartagena also served as General Counsel to the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey.
A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia University School of Law, Mr. Cartagena lectures on constitutional and civil rights issues at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. He has written numerous articles on constitutional, human and civil rights laws, and has been recognized for his work on the political representation of poor and marginalized communities – especially Puerto Rican and Latino communities. His current research interests include the effects of mass imprisonment on Latino, and particularly Puerto Rican, communities, unlawful trespass arrests as an element of the NYPD’s stop and frisk practices, and employment discrimination issues affecting persons with previous criminal histories.
His work on a national level with the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act led to invitations in 2005-2006 to testify before the U.S. House and Senate on the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and its effects on Latino communities in New York and New Jersey.
Mr. Cartagena has served on numerous boards of community-based organizations and government task forces in New York and New Jersey, including, most recently, Governor Paterson’s Task Force on Transforming New York State’s Juvenile Justice System and Governor Corzine’s Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel on Immigrant Policy.
He has received numerous awards for his contributions to the field of civil rights law, among them the Freedom Fighter Award, Jersey City NAACP; Liberty Bell Award, Superior Court of New Jersey – Hudson Vicinage; Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award, Dartmouth College; 2006 Professional Lawyer of the Year Award, New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law; Felix A. Fishman Award, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest; Legal Services Award, New York City Bar Association
Mr. Cartagena lives with his family in Jersey City. He is active in various community activities including cultural activities that highlight the diversity of Jersey City’s neighborhoods.