Senate Confirms Suffolk Law Alumnus to First Circuit

Judge Gustavo A. GelpĂ­, Jr., JD '91, previously served on the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
The U.S. Senate has confirmed Gustavo A. Gelpí, Jr., to the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals. A 1991 graduate of Suffolk University Law School, Gelpí is the second judge of Hispanic origin to serve on the First Circuit and the first Suffolk Law alumnus to serve on the court.

Based at the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse in Boston, the First Circuit handles appellate cases for Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island.

For the last 15 years, Gelpí has served on the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, following his nomination by President George W. Bush. Since 2018, he has been chief judge. He previously served as Puerto Rico’s solicitor general and argued many important cases before the Court of Appeals for the First, Second, and D.C. circuits. He has also held top level posts in Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice, and worked as a federal public defender.

Suffolk Law Dean Andrew Perlman described Gelpí as “a first-rate legal mind who has deftly handled extraordinarily complex cases.” Gelpí presided over a major police reform consent decree case, based on a pattern of civil rights violations by police against Puerto Rican citizens. Another landmark ruling was his recent decision that the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s continued statutory prohibition of same sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Along with his judicial work, Gelpí sets aside time each year to teach the Law School’s Federal Criminal Procedure course. “Judge Gelpí is a devoted advocate for Suffolk Law students,” said Perlman, noting that his students have successfully competed for prestigious government positions, including clerkships and internships in the federal judiciary, for the Federal Defender, and the US Probation Office. A video Gelpí created that explains the critical elements needed to secure federal clerkships has become an integral career training tool at the school.

Judge Gelpí has served as both Puerto Rico chapter and national president of the Federal Bar Association and has received numerous awards, including an honorary doctorate of laws from Suffolk in 2006 and Suffolk Law's Outstanding Achievement Award in 2016.

In September, the Senate confirmed Judge Angel Kelley to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Kelley regularly teaches trial advocacy at Suffolk Law as a member of the Law School’s adjunct faculty. Kelley has served on the Brockton District Court and was elevated in 2013 to the Superior Court, where she has served as the regional administrative judge.


Michael Fisch
Office of Public Affairs

Greg Gatlin
Office of Public Affairs