LatinoJustice PRLDEF

This is a logo for LatinoJustice PRLDEF. (link)



Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $2,486,397
Expenses: $2,720,183
Assets: $1,770,183


Juan Cartagena


Left-of-Center Civil Rights Group



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LatinoJustice PRLDEF (LJP) is a left-of-center public interest legal group that works specifically with Latinos, especially within the Puerto Rican community. Originally called the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, the group changed its name targeting a broader appeal and expanded mission. LIP is mostly active in New York and Florida and has filed numerous civil rights cases over the course of its history, often related to voting rights and labor issues. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was on the board of directors from 1980 to 1992. 1 2

Founding and History

LatinoJustice PRLDEF was originally founded in 1972 as the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund by Cesar Perales, Victor Marrero, and Jorge Batista with the goal of protecting the civil rights of Puerto Ricans living in the mainland United States. 3 In 1980, future Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, then an assistant district attorney, joined the group’s board of directors and remained there for 12 years until she became a federal judge in 1992. Former staff report that she was very actively involved in the organization and regularly met with the legal staff to review cases. 4

The group has been involved in numerous cases and other left-of-center advocacy causes. In 1981, members of the board, including Sotomayor, issued a memo urging the LIP to oppose the reinstatement of the death penalty in New York, arguing that capital punishment “is associated with evident racism in our society.” 5

One of the group’s earliest and most notable actions came in 1981 when New York City cancelled its primary elections the day before voting due to a lawsuit LIP filed in federal court alleging that legislative districting reduced the influence of minority voters. The districts were later redrawn. 6

In 1987, LIP campaigned against former President Ronald Reagan’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Robert Bork, arguing that he posed a threat to Latino civil rights. 7

In 1992, the group filed a class action lawsuit against the New York City Police Department, alleging that advancement exams for police officers were “discriminatory and not job related.” New York City settled the lawsuit and agreed to promotion quotas for Latino and African-American officers. 8

In 1998, the group merged with the Institute for Puerto Rican Policy, which focused on analyzing government policy toward Puerto Rico. In 2005 the Institute separated from the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund to again become independent. 9

In 2008, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund officially changed its name to LatinoJustice PRLDEF. The decision was the result of 10 years of consideration and was aimed at increasing fundraising and creating a broader base of support among Latinos. 10

In 2009, LJP faced a wave of scrutiny due to the nomination of former board member Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. During the judicial hearings, some U.S. Senators argued that LJP had taken extreme positions on issues like capital punishment, abortion, and racial quotas. 11

For most of its history, LJP focused its work in the New York City area. In 2014, the group opened a regional office in Orlando, Florida. 12

In 2020, LJP filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, et al consolidated with Trump v Pennsylvania, arguing against allowing private employers to refuse to pay for employee contraceptive care for moral or religious reasons. 13


In 2017, LatinoJustice PRLDF had $13,127,120 in revenue, of which $3.4 came from contributions and grants, $101,965 came from program service revenue, and $9.5 million came from investment income. This revenue is far larger than the previous year’s revenue of $2.4 million. The group had $3.3 million in expenses for the year and ended with $11 million in assets, an increase from the previous year’s total of just $1.35 million in assets. 14

Legal Education

LatinoJustice PRLDEF runs a leadership and legal education initiative aimed at increasing Latino admission to law schools, fostering awareness of civil rights, and cultivating Latino leaders. This includes a two-summer-long internship program that places Latino law students with corporate and law firm attorneys for mentorship and hands on learning experience. The initiative also provides educational programs for Latino students interested in a law career and LSAT preparatory courses. 15 16

Policy Advocacy

Decolonize Justice

LatinoJustice PRLDEF produced a seven-part documentary series entitled “Decolonize Justice.” The series argues that the American criminal justice system is not just in need of reform, but that it needs to be “de-structured,” “decolonized,” and entirely dismantled. 17

Economic Justice

LatinoJustice PRLDEF is regularly involved in left-of-center labor litigation and describes its economic philosophy as “expansive.” This vision goes beyond advocating for an increased minimum wage to include “sustainable housing, educational, health, and environmental settings.” LIP initiatives focus primarily on low-wage workers in New York and Central Florida. 18

Puerto Rico

LatinoJustice PRLDEF places special emphasis on Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican diaspora in the mainland United States. LJP calls for Puerto Rican “decolonization” and has taken charges of human rights abuses in Puerto Rico before the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. It has also worked to provide legal assistance to Puerto Ricans in Florida and Georgia who have been displaced by Hurricane Maria. 19


LJP has pursued a legal strategy designed to limit laws and ordinances on the local level that it claims unjustly target immigrants. LIP has also pushed left-of-center initiatives to limit the ability of local law enforcement to participate in immigration enforcement, such as banning local law enforcement cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


Juan Cartagena is the president and general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. Cartagena is affiliated with the Department of Latino and Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University. He has previously worked as the general counsel and vice president for advocacy at the left-of-center Community Service Society of New York and as general counsel to the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey. Cartagena also has experience working in public office, sitting as a municipal court judge in New Jersey, and working for the government of Puerto Rico’s Department of Puerto Rican Community Affairs. 20 21

Jose Ramon Gonzalez is the chair of the LJP board of directors. He is a vice president and general counsel at the multi-billion-dollar insurance company CNA. Previously, he worked as the chief legal officer at QBE North America. 22 23


  1. “LatinoJustice: History.” Accessed October 29, 2020.
  2. Hernandez, Raymond, and David W. Chen. “Nominee’s Links With Advocates Fuel Her Critics.” The New York Times, May 28, 2009. Accessed October 29, 2020.
  3. “LatinoJustice: History.” Accessed October 29, 2020.
  4. Hernandez, Raymond, and David W. Chen. “Nominee’s Links With Advocates Fuel Her Critics.” The New York Times, May 28, 2009. Accessed October 29, 2020.
  5. Jerry, Markon. “Conservative Group Criticizes Sotomayor on Death Penalty Memo.” The Washington Post, June 4, 2009. Accessed October 29, 2020.
  6. Hernandez, Raymond, and David W. Chen. “Nominee’s Links With Advocates Fuel Her Critics.” The New York Times, May 28, 2009.
  7. “Senator: Sotomayor Advised ‘extreme’ Group.”, June 30, 2009.
  8. Mears, Bill. “New Sotomayor Documents Detail Work of Puerto Rican Rights Group.” CNN, July 2, 2009. Accessed October 29, 2020.
  9. Navarro, Mireya. “A Civil Rights Struggle for Survival; Leader Returns to a Hispanic Legal Group Facing Financial Ruin.” The New York Times, August 11, 2003. Accessed October 29, 2020.
  10. Semple, Kirk. “Civil Rights Group Stays Puerto Rican at Heart, but Now Has a Broader Reach.” The New York Times, October 5, 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020.
  11. “Senator: Sotomayor Advised ‘extreme’ Group.”, June 30, 2009. Accessed October 30, 2020.
  12. “LatinoJustice: History.” Accessed October 29, 2020.
  13. Guzman, Stephanie. “SCOTUS Review – LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR v. PENNSYLVANIA, et al – Consolidated with TRUMP v PENNSYLVANIA.” Accessed October 30, 2020.
  14. LatinoJustice PRLDEF, IRS (Form 990), 2017, Part 1.
  15. “CAP Leadership and Education.” Accessed October 30, 2020.
  16. “CLASP Internships.” Accessed October 30, 2020.
  17. “Decolonize Justice Documentary Series.” Accessed October 30, 2020.
  18. “Economic Justice.” Accessed October 30, 2020.
  19. “Puerto Rico.” Accessed October 30, 2020.
  20. “Juan Cartagena.” Accessed October 31, 2020.
  21. “Instructors.” Accessed October 31, 2020.
  22. “Board of Directors.” Accessed October 31, 2020.
  23. “CNA Appoints Jose Ramon Gonzalez as Executive Vice President & General Counsel.”, June 1, 2019. Accessed October 31, 2020.–general-counsel-300878327.html.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: May 1, 1972

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Jun Form 990 $2,486,397 $2,720,183 $1,770,183 $417,725 N $1,736,954 $758,518 $82 $202,586 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $2,589,314 $2,835,353 $2,153,470 $581,776 N $2,057,782 $524,636 $13,668 $199,449
    2015 Jun Form 990 $2,219,177 $2,958,389 $2,637,311 $804,924 N $1,999,543 $96,620 $2,754 $689,597 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $3,860,716 $2,849,921 $3,543,358 $898,980 N $3,711,915 $71,085 $1,370 $230,439 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $2,787,552 $2,801,723 $2,657,537 $1,023,954 N $2,584,467 $78,045 $292 $222,325 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $2,541,689 $2,690,144 $2,821,567 $1,173,813 N $2,448,915 $84,105 $375 $415,185 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $2,809,451 $2,693,622 $3,179,794 $1,383,585 N $2,518,457 $95,123 $1,985 $209,703 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    LatinoJustice PRLDEF

    NEW YORK, NY 10013-2815