My friend of many years Gustavo Gelpi, the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, knew Carlos del Valle for even more time than I did. Judge Gelpi wrote up a short eulogy in honor of Carlitos (once again, pictured below) and has graciously granted me permission to repost his eulogy here:
“Carlitos Del Valle, as all who knew him came to call him, was the quintessential idealist. He never saw ‘The Law’ as a mere profession or way to make a living. Rather, he saw it as an instrument that can bring great social change or reform; as a means to help the otherwise powerless or less fortunate; as a David to challenge the Governmental Goliath. To him ‘The Law’ was his very essence and purpose in life.
“I knew Carlitos for three decades. During that time there were periods when he represented the Commonwealth Government and there were others where he represented plaintiffs with civil rights claims against the Government. While indeed a zealous advocate regardless which side he was on, he always presented broader issues than those most other lawyers would raise.
“Back in 2008 I presided over an important case involving the Commonwealth’s noncompliance with the Medicaid statute. As counsel for the Government, Carlitos prevented his client from being found in contempt and ensured that all pending payments be made. Any other attorney would have settled for said result, but not him. Rather, he proceeded to go beyond that and literally indicted the United States Government for disparately treating United States citizens in Puerto Rico as it pertains to federal health benefits. He thus asked the Court to rule that the Insular Cases no longer applied to the Commonwealth. That was his typical self. He will certainly be missed.”
I will only add this to Judge Gelpi’s eulogy: More than any other man I knew, Carlitos truly embodied the spirit of Don Quijote–both for his idealism and willingness to tilt at powerful windmills.