Frank Torres, Judge Who Sought Extra Latinos on the Bench, Dies at 93

Frank Torres, a former New York Point out Supreme Court docket justice who, as the son of a Family Courtroom jurist and afterwards the father of a federal choose, championed greater Hispanic representation in the lawful career and on the bench, died on Thursday in the Bronx. He was 93.

His loss of life, in a hospital from troubles of pneumonia, was confirmed by his daughter Decide Analisa Torres of the United States District Court in Manhattan.

To assist enhance the proportion of Hispanic lawyers and judges, Justice Torres encouraged substantial college and college learners to research legislation and lawyers to aspire to judgeships, both equally elected and appointed. And he publicly named for law companies to forged their nets wider when using the services of, and for judicial screening committees to look for out much more Hispanic candidates.

In 1991, in an report in The New York Condition Bar Journal, he complained that with 1.8 million Hispanic men and women in New York Town and 2,000 Hispanic legal professionals working towards in the point out, there was, conspicuously, not 1 Hispanic federal choose in New York.

“This absence,” he wrote, was extensively seen as “a vestige of American unequal prospect and racial discrimination.”

His complaint was lodged soon ahead of Justice John Carro, who had been the initial Puerto Rican named to the Appellate Division in New York, withdrew his title from consideration as a federal decide. He had been nominated by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, but the Republican administration of President George H.W. Bush had sat on the nomination for a number of several years.

When Justice Carro withdrew, nevertheless, Senator Moynihan’s judicial collection committee was all set with a substitution: an additional choose from the Bronx, Sonia Sotomayor, who was confirmed, and who later grew to become the to start with Hispanic jurist to sit on the United States Supreme Courtroom.

Justice Torres had appeared destined to comply with in the footsteps of his father, Felipe, who in 1953 was amid the first Puerto Ricans elected to the New York Point out Assembly and a ten years later was appointed to the Family Court docket.

The elder Mr. Torres represented his South Bronx constituents in Albany from 1952 to 1961, when he retired. His son Frank succeeded him, elected as an insurgent.

Eduardo Padro, a retired justice of the Point out Supreme Court docket, the optimum demo courtroom in New York, reported of Justice Torres in a cellphone job interview: “What distinguished him was a essential humanity. When I arrived in, I was an outsider, a rock thrower. I did not visualize myself as a player till I had the prospect to perform with him and obtained a newfound regard for the bench.”

Justice Padro, who had been a law clerk for Justice Torres, reported he had made it an article of religion “that the Puerto Rican neighborhood, the Latino community, that individuals of colour had the appropriate to aspire — that individuals who in no way regarded the law experienced a suitable to aspire to a occupation in it, and people that ended up in the legislation experienced a correct to aspire to the judiciary.”

Frank Torres was born on Jan. 25, 1928, in Manhattan to mother and father who experienced immigrated from Puerto Rico. His father, Felipe Torres, a lawyer who practiced in East Harlem, was appointed to the bench by Mayor Robert F. Wagner Jr. His mother was Felipe Torres’s first spouse, Flerida Barrios, a homemaker.

Frank’s sister, Aida, was elevated by their mother, but when Frank was 4½, he moved in with his father and his next wife, Inocencia Bello de Torres, with whom Felipe Torres had 3 more small children.

Judge Analisa Torres mentioned that her grandfather “imprinted on my father the theory that Latinos who have been afforded the option to obtain a better education are morally obligated to advocate for the rights of the Spanish-speaking community.”

Frank researched violin at the Manhattan College of Music (as a teenager he played 1st violin in a youth orchestra at Carnegie Hall) and graduated from the prestigious Stuyvesant Significant School in Manhattan.

He gained a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology from the City Higher education of New York in 1951 and a law degree from St. John’s College Regulation Faculty in 1955. He took law lessons at night all through the day he was an investigator and interviewer for the city’s welfare division.

In 1950 he married Yolanda Marquez Torres, who became a psychology professor at Town College or university. Immediately after she died in 2013, he moved to Pittsburgh to live with his daughter Andrea Mahone, a retired teacher.

In addition to Ms. Mahone and Decide Analisa Torres, who was nominated to the federal bench by President Barack Obama in 2013, he is survived by a son, Ramon 3 grandchildren and five fantastic-grandchildren. One more daughter, Pamela, died of leukemia when she was 4 a day care middle in the Bronx launched by Justice Torres and his wife was named in her memory.

Immediately after regulation college, Justice Torres served as an assistant district legal professional in the Bronx. He was a founder of the Ponce de Leon Federal Discounts Financial institution in New York (recognized as the Ponce Bank), just one of the very first banking institutions particularly proven to provide the Hispanic population. All through his one particular term in the Assembly (he was defeated in a re-election bid in 1964), he fought for the elimination of English literacy tests for Puerto Rican voters. The exams were being finally banned by the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“He was major, anxious, but delicate-spoken,” claimed Murray Richman, the wily Bronx protection attorney renowned domestically as “Don’t Get worried Murray.” He added that Justice Torres “was concerned in every single one important Hispanic team that existed in the ’60s and ’70s.”

After his stint in the Assembly, Justice Torres worked 15 decades in the New York office environment of the federal Office of Housing and Urban Improvement, wherever he rose to director of civil legal rights and equal prospect. Mayor Edward I. Koch appointed him to the Relatives Courtroom in 1980.

He served in the legal court docket as an acting Supreme Court justice and was elected to the Supreme Court docket in 1987. He served until 2001.

Even on the bench, Justice Torres ongoing to foyer for the appointment and election of extra Hispanic judges. He was instrumental in founding what turned recognised as the Latino Judges Association.

Carlos Cuevas, a previous city clerk and a friend of Justice Torres’s because they were being Boy Scouts in East Harlem, reported of him, “He was involved about the man on the avenue, and no matter if he received a honest trial.”