Gustavo Gelpí

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Gustavo Antonio Gelpí, Jr.
Judge Gustavo Gelpí.jpg
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
Assumed office
April 13, 2018
Preceded by Aida Delgado-Colon
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
Assumed office
August 1, 2006
Appointed by George W. Bush
Preceded by Hector Manuel Laffitte
Personal details
Born Gustavo Antonio Gelpí, Jr.
1965 (age 52–53)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Education Brandeis University (B.A.)
Suffolk University Law School (J.D.)

Gustavo Antonio Gelpí, Jr. (born 1965) is the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. At age 40, he was the youngest judge at the time of his appointment.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in 1965, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Gelpí received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University in 1987 and a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School in 1991 (from which he also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree in 2006). He was a law clerk to Juan M. Perez-Gimenez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico from 1991 to 1993.[1] Gelpí was then an assistant federal public defender in the Office of the Federal Public Defender from 1993 to 1997. He worked in Puerto Rico's Department of Justice from 1997 to 1999, first as an assistant to the attorney general, and then as assistant attorney general for the office of legal counsel. During Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Rosselló's second term, Gelpí served as Puerto Rico's Solicitor General from 1999-2000, and in said capacity argued several landmark cases on behalf of the Government of Puerto Rico before the United States Courts of Appeal for the First, Second and DC Circuits, as well as the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. He was a special litigation counsel in the law firm of McConnell Valdes in 2001, but left that position to become a United States Magistrate Judge, an office that he held for five years, from 2001 to 2006.

Federal judicial service[edit]

On April 24, 2006, Gelpí was nominated by President George W. Bush to a seat on the District of Puerto Rico vacated by Hector M. Laffitte. He was endorsed by the Hispanic National Bar Association and the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.[1] Gelpí was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on July 20, 2006, and received his commission on August 1, 2006. He has been serving as Chief Judge since April 13, 2018.[2]

In September 2013 Judge Gelpi became National President of the Federal Bar Association, becoming only the second Hispanic and first federal judge to achieve this milestone. He is also a Sustaining Life Fellow of the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association.[1]

He is the author of a court opinion in the case of Consejo de Salud de la Playa de Ponce vs. Rullan, that holds that Puerto Rico is no longer an unincorporated territory of the United States, and has thus become an incorporated territory. In his opinion, Judge Gelpi notes that his ruling doesn't override the United Supreme Court's Insular Cases.[3]

Honors and recognitions[edit]

Judge Gelpi has participated in Hawaii, Alaska, Chicago, Puerto Rico, District of Columbia, New York and Boston in a series of scholarly historical lectures sponsored by the Federal Bar Association about the racist underpinnings of the Insular Cases, and how the Supreme Court and the US Congress have disparately treated the US citizens residing in the former and current US territories. On August 14, 2014, Judge Gelpi presented at the Interamerican University former Governor Rafael Hernandez-Colon's book about the nature and development of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Acknowledging that he did not agree with all of the former governor's pronouncements, he nonetheless urged all students to read the same because it is important for understanding the constitutional history of Puerto Rico. In April of the following year, Judge Gelpi presented former Governor Pedro Rossello's book El Ultimo Enclave del Colonialismo (The Last Enclave of Colonialism) at the Puerto Rico Art Museum. Both governors, in turn, wrote preambles to Judge Gelpi's book The Constitutional Evolution of Puerto Rico and Other U.S. Territories 1898–Present, published by Interamerican Univsity in 2017.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c U.S. Department of Justice Biography (accessed Jun 19, 2008)
  2. ^ "Gustavo Gelpí juramenta como juez presidente del Tribunal Federal". (in Spanish). April 13, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2018. 
  3. ^ CONSEJO DE SALUD PLAYA DE PONCE v JOHNNY RULLAN, SECRETARY OF HEALTH OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO (PDF), The United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, retrieved 2009-12-20 

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Hector Manuel Laffitte
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
Preceded by
Aida Delgado-Colon
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico