Cartagena Named New President and General Counsel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 16, 2011

CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, jgarcia@latinojustice.org;


LatinoJustice PRLDEF today announced Juan Cartagena as its new President and General Counsel. Cartagena will join LatinoJustice PRLDEF on April 11.

Cartagena is a constitutional law and civil rights attorney with extensive litigation experience in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination, education and language rights. He served as a staff attorney at LatinoJustice in the 1980s.

“Juan is an experienced civil rights attorney with a lot of practice in working for and protecting our community,” said David Arroyo, Chairman of the LatinoJustice PRLDEF Board of Directors. “Our community needs protection right now and our board and staff are very confident that Juan will provide such leadership.”

At present Cartagena is General Counsel and Vice President for Advocacy at the Community Service Society where he supervises public interest law attorneys and a staff of policy experts who conduct strategic research and policy analysis on issues of labor market participation, affordable housing, youth policy and mass imprisonment and reentry.

Cartagena understands the challenges his new role places on him.

“Our nation’s largest minority group continues to face challenges that impede its ability to be accepted as equal partners in American society,” Cartagena said. “Employing legal intervention strategies to ensure equal treatment under law and eliminating unfair stereotypes of the Latino community are the hallmarks of progressive lawyering. LatinoJustice PRLDEF has been doing just that for years and I’m excited and humbled to rejoin those efforts“

Cartagena replaces outgoing co-founder Cesar A. Perales. Perales and two other lawyers founded LatinoJustice PRLDEF in 1973. For the past 40 years Perales has been at the forefront of the battle for Latino civil rights. He hired Cartagena as a visiting attorney fellow at PRLDEF many years ago.

“The Latino community has a great partner in Juan. Someone who knows the law, who works closely with the community and someone whose vision is clear and direct,” said Perales. “He embodies our organization’s work in creating leaders and I know he will bring his usual energy to the job. Our community is in good hands.”

Cartagena is a former Municipal Court Judge in the city of Hoboken, New Jersey and has litigated in various states including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

From 1990 to 1991 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 Puerto Rican Legal Defense & Education Fund.

Cartagena has taught several college courses and presently teaches a Latino civil rights law course for undergraduate students at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He has also written extensively and conducted research in many areas affecting Latino communities including criminal justice and mass imprisonment, voting rights and redistricting, language rights, and civil procedure .

He 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.

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.

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