Contact: Andrew Rush
Director, media Services & Public Affairs

April 2, 2008


Commercial and Federal Litigation Section Honors Pioneer Cesar A. Perales at Annual Reception

On Monday, April 7, 2008 at the Kaplan Penthouse in the Rose Building at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts from 4-8 p.m., the New York State Bar Association's Commercial and Federal Litigation Section is sponsoring "Smooth Moves II: For Attorneys of Color." The event, sponsored for the second year by the Section with complimentary attendance, features a CLE program, awards ceremony and networking reception. The program is co-chaired by the Honorable Barry A. Cozier, Epstein Becker & Green, P.C., former Justice of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, and Carla M. Miller, Esq., Universal Music Group.

The CLE program, entitled, "Pathways to the Bench," will feature as panelists the Honorable George Daniels, United States District Judge, Southern District of New York, the Honorable Marilyn Doran Go, (S.D.N.Y.), United States Magistrate Judge, Eastern District of New York, the Honorable Marguerite A. Grays, New York Supreme Court, Queens County, Commercial Division, and the Honorable Victor Marrero, United States District Judge, Southern District of New York. The panel will be moderated by the Honorable Zachary W. Carter, Dorsey & Whitney LLP and former United States Magistrate Judge, Eastern District of New York and United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

Following the panel discussion beginning at 5:30 p.m., the Section will present its second annual Honorable George Bundy Smith Pioneer Award to Cesar A. Perales (biographical information below), President and General Counsel, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. The Honorable George Bundy Smith (Chadbourne and Parke LLP), former Associate Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals,will present the award. New York State Bar Association President Kathryn Grant Madigan also will be in attendance.

Carrie H. Cohen of New York City (Assistant United States Attorney, Southern District of New York), chair of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section said, "The Section's Award honors a New York attorney whose career accomplishments exemplify the high standards set by the Honorable George Bundy Smith, retired judge of the New York Court of Appeals, and we are thrilled to bestow this award on Cesar A. Perales in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the public interest and the legal profession."

In addition to the Honorable George Bundy Smith Pioneer Award, Fordham Law Schoolstudent Ji Zhang will receive the 2008 Commercial and Federal Litigation Section Minority Fellowship administered by The New York Bar Foundation. The $5,000 award is available to first-year law students attending a law school in the State of New Yorkwho demonstrate an interest in commercial and federal litigation. Mr. Zhang will work this summer in the Chambers of the Honorable Herman Cahn, New York Supreme Court, New York County, Commercial Division.

Section Chair Carrie H. Cohen said, "The Commercial and Federal Litigation Section established this Fellowship with The New York Bar Foundation to help create a network and forge relationships that will foster greater diversity among commercial and federal litigators throughout the State of New York. It is our pleasure to confer this year's Fellowship on Mr. Zhang, and we are confident he will have a wonderful experience working for the Honorable Herman Cahn."

The awards ceremony will be followed by a cocktail and networking reception at which musical entertainment will be provided by the Juilliard Institute for Jazz Studies. There is no charge to attend either the CLE program or the reception, but reservations are recommended by emailing

Founded in 1988, the more than 2,600 member Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of NYSBA strives to improve the quality of representation of commercial clients in litigation matters, provides a forum for the improvement of law and procedure in the areas of commercial and federal litigation, and enhances the administration of justice. The Section is committed to serving the professional development goals of attorneys of color and to fostering diversity in the profession. For more information about the Section, contact Sue Fitzpatrick, at, or go to

The 74,000 member New York State Bar Association is the official statewide organization of lawyers in New Yorkand the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Founded in 1876, NYSBA programs and activities have continuously served the public and improved the justice system for more than 130 years.


About Cesar A. Perales

Cesar Perales was one of the founders of PRLDEF in 1972, and became the organization's first President. Under his leadership, PRLDEF initiated a flurry of lawsuits that would establish the right to bilingual education, strike down civil service requirements that kept Latinos from public employment, and eliminate barriers to government benefits for non-English speaking applicants. PRLDEF also sued the government of Puerto Rico when it contracted with farms entities on the mainland to supply migrant farm workers, but failed in its responsibility to ensure decent working conditions. PRLDEF's national impact was felt in 1975 when the United States Congress amended the Voting Rights Act to include the right to bilingual ballots-a right established by PRLDEF in the federal courts in 1973.

Mr. Perales went on to government service but in 1981 responded to the Board's request that he return for a period to PRLDEF. Within six months, PRLDEF was at the forefront of litigation to block the election of the New York City Council until district lines were redrawn in a nondiscriminatory manner. The Supreme Court refused to overturn the a lower court order and the New York elections were halted the day before they were to be held-perhaps the most dramatic application of the Voting Rights Act in the North.

Mr. Perales' record of government and private-sector service has also been extraordinary. He was nominated by President Jimmy Carter and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as Assistant Secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services. As Commissioner of the Department of Social Services under Governor Mario M. Cuomo, he managed New York State's largest agency budget. He went on to serve as Deputy Mayor of New York Cityduring the administration of David N. Dinkins. After leaving public service he became Senior Vice President of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center; the Community Health Care system he developed during his tenure received national recognition.

Mr. Perales returned to lead PRLDEF once again in 2003. Since then, in addition to achieving renewed fiscal and infrastructural stability, PRLDEF has become a national leader in the fight to protect the rights of immigrants. These lawsuits, protecting the constitutional rights of day laborers and other immigrants, have had an extraordinary impact and focused attention on this new civil rights struggle.

Related Files

Minority Forum(DOC File)