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

Frank Torres, a former New York Condition Supreme Court justice who, as the son of a Relatives Court jurist and later on the father of a federal decide, championed better Hispanic representation in the lawful occupation and on the bench, died on Thursday in the Bronx. He was 93.

His dying, in a clinic from troubles of pneumonia, was verified by his daughter Choose Analisa Torres of the United States District Courtroom in Manhattan.

To enable increase the proportion of Hispanic attorneys and judges, Justice Torres inspired significant faculty and university students to analyze regulation and attorneys to aspire to judgeships, each elected and appointed. And he publicly called for legislation firms to solid their nets broader when selecting, and for judicial screening committees to request out far more Hispanic candidates.

In 1991, in an posting in The New York Point out Bar Journal, he complained that with 1.8 million Hispanic men and women in New York Town and 2,000 Hispanic lawyers practicing in the point out, there was, conspicuously, not one particular Hispanic federal choose in New York.

“This absence,” he wrote, was greatly witnessed as “a vestige of American unequal chance and racial discrimination.”

His criticism was lodged shortly right before Justice John Carro, who had been the initially Puerto Rican named to the Appellate Division in New York, withdrew his identify from thing to consider as a federal decide. He experienced 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 numerous years.

When Justice Carro withdrew, however, Senator Moynihan’s judicial range committee was all set with a substitute: a different decide from the Bronx, Sonia Sotomayor, who was confirmed, and who later grew to become the initial Hispanic jurist to sit on the United States Supreme Court.

Justice Torres experienced seemed destined to observe in the footsteps of his father, Felipe, who in 1953 was amongst the to start with Puerto Ricans elected to the New York State Assembly and a decade later on was appointed to the Household 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 Condition Supreme Court, the greatest demo courtroom in New York, claimed of Justice Torres in a telephone job interview: “What distinguished him was a fundamental humanity. When I arrived in, I was an outsider, a rock thrower. I did not imagine myself as a player until I experienced the possibility to operate with him and attained a newfound respect for the bench.”

Justice Padro, who had been a law clerk for Justice Torres, claimed he experienced built it an post of religion “that the Puerto Rican neighborhood, the Latino community, that people of shade had the right to aspire — that those people who hardly ever regarded the law experienced a right to aspire to a profession in it, and those that ended up in the law experienced a proper to aspire to the judiciary.”

Frank Torres was born on Jan. 25, 1928, in Manhattan to parents who experienced arrive to New York 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 mom was Felipe Torres’s to start with spouse, Flerida Barrios, a homemaker.

Frank’s sister, Aida, was lifted by their mom, but when Frank was 4½, he moved in with his father and his next wife, Inocencia Bello de Torres, with whom Felipe Torres had a few far more youngsters.

Decide Analisa Torres claimed that her grandfather “imprinted on my father the theory that Latinos who have been afforded the possibility to obtain a bigger schooling are morally obligated to advocate for the legal rights of the Spanish-speaking neighborhood.”

Frank analyzed violin at the Manhattan School of New music (as a teenager he played to start with violin in a youth orchestra at Carnegie Corridor) and graduated from the prestigious Stuyvesant Significant University in Manhattan.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology from the City Higher education of New York in 1951 and a legislation degree from St. John’s University Regulation Faculty in 1955. He took regulation lessons at evening all through the working day he was an investigator and interviewer for the city’s welfare department.

In 1950 he married Yolanda Marquez Torres, who turned a psychology professor at Metropolis College. Soon after she died in 2013, he moved to Pittsburgh to reside 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 a few grandchildren and five terrific-grandchildren. Another daughter, Pamela, died of leukemia when she was 4 a working day treatment center in the Bronx founded by Justice Torres and his spouse was named in her memory.

Following law school, Justice Torres served as an assistant district attorney in the Bronx. He was a founder of the Ponce de Leon Federal Financial savings Bank in New York (regarded as the Ponce Lender), just one of the first banking establishments precisely established to provide the Hispanic populace. During his just one expression 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 ended up eventually banned by the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“He was significant, concerned, but soft-spoken,” stated Murray Richman, the wily Bronx defense law firm well known locally as “Don’t Fear Murray.” He included that Justice Torres “was involved in every single solitary big Hispanic group that existed in the ’60s and ’70s.”

Immediately after his stint in the Assembly, Justice Torres labored 15 yrs in the New York office of the federal Section of Housing and Urban Enhancement, where by he rose to director of civil rights and equal chance. Mayor Edward I. Koch appointed him to the Loved ones Court docket in 1980.

He served in the prison court as an performing Supreme Court justice and was elected to the Supreme Court in 1987. He served till 2001.

Even on the bench, Justice Torres continued to lobby for the appointment and election of a lot more Hispanic judges. He was instrumental in founding what grew to become regarded as the Latino Judges Association.

Carlos Cuevas, a previous metropolis clerk and a buddy of Justice Torres’s given that they were Boy Scouts in East Harlem, said of him, “He was involved about the male on the road, and whether he got a truthful trial.”