The Yale Law Journal


A Dedication to Judge Juan Torruella

02 Nov 2020

I am pleased indeed that the Yale Law Journal has dedicated this collection about the Insular Cases to Judge Juan Torruella. Juan was more than a great judge. He was a great sailor, a great historian, a great player of the guitar, my colleague on the First Circuit, and my very good friend. His energy was boundless, his enthusiasm contagious, his perseverance daunting, and his principles rock solid. On the bench he would study a case with care, reach a conclusion, and then defend it, intelligently and with vigor. On his boat, he would sail the seas, including a trip through the Magellan Straits and across the Atlantic, with Judy, his loyal and dear wife, as chief cook and a team of young sailors who followed his orders or else! He loved being a member of Puerto Rico’s Olympic Committee and was proud of his participation in the Puerto Rican Sailing Team. He lived life to the fullest.

As an historian, Juan studied the Insular Cases. He took a year off to attend Oxford University and write a thesis about them. His tutor there, Dame Frances Lannon, then Principal of Lady Margaret Hall, tells of her “respect” for Juan’s work, describing her sessions with Juan as “engaging and enjoyable.” I’m sure they were. Juan committed himself wholeheartedly to whatever task he was engaged in and this was anyway a subject close to his heart.

For me, the Journal’s essays about the Insular Cases are learned, scholarly writings. More than that they remind me of days spent with Juan in Puerto Rico, where the First Circuit is lucky enough to hold sessions each year. There, as in Boston, we might talk about the Island’s status and about much else besides–perhaps at breakfast at a café (usually La Bombonera in San Juan) or at dinner sometimes in La Fortaleza, or on tours of the Tall Ships in the San Juan harbor. Juan was my colleague and my friend. I shall miss him very much. Thank you, YLJ, for your dedication.

Stephen G. Breyer is an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.