August 1, 2021

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The legacy of Judge Juan R. Torruella in the judiciary stands out

Federal judge Juan R. Torruella, leaves an important legacy in the judiciary with his proposals in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana and that the judicial apparatus treat the addict with a non-punitive approach, Senator Miguel Pereira Castillo highlighted today.

The legislator, who as a federal prosecutor litigated in the courtroom of Judge Torruella in the First Circuit of Boston, expressed regret for the death of the judge, who died this morning at 87 years of age. Torruella was the first Puerto Rican to be part of the Boston Circuit of Appeals, a forum that the Puerto Rican judge presided over from 1994 to 2001.

“We are all in mourning, not only the lawyers and the judges, but the rest of the people who are associated with that judicial effort. Judge Torruella represents what an exemplary figure is, a courageous person, with great courage with his positions as a jurist and the drug epidemic that hit us and still affects us. He offered a path of knowledge, understanding, and courage. He was the first federal judge to say that perhaps the strategy against crime was a disaster rather than a tool, “said Pereira Castillo.

“It is a great loss for Puerto Rico and for the judicial structure of the United States,” he lamented.

The former Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and also a promoter of a less punitive approach to deal with the scourge of drugs, stressed that Judge Torruella with his vision of decriminalizing drugs was a pioneer in Boston.

“History is showing more and more that this is the position that thinking beings should adopt. And it is not only the thought of decriminalizing marijuana, of the treatment of the user, instead of the punishment of the user, but of having the courage to articulate that position while occupying the positions that he held, ”said Pereira. Castle.

“It’s not that he believed in it, but that he had the courage to articulate it. For me that is his great contribution. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelio said that good fortune accompanies courage. Marcus Aurelio offered us what Judge Torruella experienced and that must be celebrated because we are all aware that this is such an extraordinarily rare characteristic that we desperately need it, “he added.

Pereira Castillo, who was a federal prosecutor for 17 years, recalled the treatment he and other prosecutors received when they went from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Puerto Rico to defend cases before the panel that Torruella was part of in the Boston Court. “He always treated us with great respect and much sympathy in the sense that he knew that we had just flown three hours to get there and that we had to fly three additional hours to return to our homes,” said the legislator of the Popular Democratic Party ( PPD), who does not aspire to re-election.

He said that this litigation before Torruella “was an experience, one felt that he could not fail, he was an imposing figure in court and one never doubted that he was in charge of the space he occupied.”

“Personally, he always seemed to me a very gentle person, very informed, his behavior very appropriate, always gentlemanly and avoiding those abusive tendencies that judges sometimes develop,” said Pereira Castillo.

He said that after he ventured into politics, Torruella “always had words of friendship and solidarity” towards him. “After he was a senator, he always had words of friendship, solidarity, not political, but personal. He understood that he was speaking with a person who was also willing to take the difficult road with my positions in favor of the decriminalization of the drug, “he said.

He also recalled Torruella’s achievements in the sport of sailing and his outstanding participation in the Great Colón Regatta in Puerto Rico, an event that was part of the commemorative activities of the Fifth Centennial of the Discovery of America in 1992.

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