Gilberto Gierbolini Ortiz (1980-2004)

Gilberto  Gierbolini Ortiz  (1980-2004)Judge Gilberto Gierbolini-Ortiz was born in Coamo, Puerto Rico on December 22, 1926. His father, Juan Gierbolini, and his mother, Emilia Ortiz, had five children; 3 daughters and 2 sons. Gilberto was the youngest child. He attended public schools in his hometown. After he graduated from Coamo High School, like many Puerto Ricans of his generation, he joined the Army's 65th Regiment in 1943, during World War II. After basic combat training, he was sent to Hawaii where he and thousands of other soldiers and marines were preparing for the invasion of Japan. He obtained the rank of Sergeant during his military service. After the war ended and he was discharged, he returned to Puerto Rico and enrolled at the University of Puerto Rico in Río Piedras, where he joined the ROTC. He married Eli Rodríguez of Coamo; they had a son, Gilberto, who served as Court of Appeals Judge in Puerto Rico from 1984 to 2007. His wife Eli died in 1963.

Still a few credits shy of graduation, he was again called to active duty in 1951 and was sent to Korea as a second lieutenant, where he spent a year, after which he was transferred to Germany, and later to Fort Benning, Georgia. He was discharged as a captain in 1957 and returned to Puerto Rico. He completed the credits he needed to complete his bachelor's degree in just one semester, and obtained his B.A., Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus in 1957. He obtained a law degree, Cum Laude, from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law in 1961. UPR President Jaime Benítez wanted Judge Gierbolini to obtain a doctorate degree in Spain and return to the University as a professor. Instead, Judge Gierbolini worked as an assistant to the university's Dean of Administration, and as an assistant to the Finance Director. He did not like the academic life, however, and opted for a government job. He was admitted to the Bar on September 29, 1961.

Five days after he was sworn in as an attorney, United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy appointed him to be an Assistant United States Attorney in Puerto Rico, where he served until 1966. Governor Roberto Sánchez Vilella appointed him to be a Superior Court Judge in 1966, and he served in Bayamón from 1966-1967 and in Caguas from 1967-1969.

He married Migdalia Córdova-Picorelli on July 7, 1967. Two daughters, Amarillys, a mother of one boy and one girl, who studied Modern Language, and Lynette, who is a doctor in Veterinary Medicine, were born to their marriage.

When Governor Luis A. Ferré won the elections in 1968, he tapped Judge Gierbolini to be the Commonwealth's Solicitor General. Judge Gierbolini could not assume the position immediately, however, because it required eight years of legal experience, and he was shy by four months. He was named an Assistant Attorney General for those four months, and then was appointed as the Commonwealth Solicitor General, serving from 1969 to 1972. Simultaneously, he also served as Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust from 1970 to 1972. From August 1972 to December 1972 he was the Chairman of the Puerto Rico State Election Board. He was in private practice in various law firms from 1973-1980. He also held academic positions, University of Puerto Rico professor, and from 1974-1977, a part-time lecturer at the Catholic University Law School in Ponce.

He was a member of the Puerto Rico Bar Association, and a member of the sub-committee that drafted and submitted the Canon of Ethics to the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. He also served as the Chairman of the Commission on Criminal Procedure of the Judicial Conference of Puerto Rico.

Judge Gierbolini was nominated to be a United States District Judge by President Jimmy Carter on November 30, 1979 to one of the four new seats created by Congress for the District of Puerto Rico. On February 18, 1980 his confirmation hearing took place before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. Resident Commissioner Baltasar Corrada del Río, who knew Gierbolini for 20 years, presented him during the hearing and exalted Gierbolini's qualities as a highly competent attorney bestowed with high moral values and integrity. Congressman Corrada enumerated Gierbolini's sound experience as an Assistant United States Attorney, Superior Court Judge in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Solicitor General, Assistant Attorney General for Litigation, and his years of private practice. Judge Gierbolini was confirmed by the Senate on February 20, 1980, and received his commission that same day. He served as chief judge from 1991-1993, assumed senior status on December 27, 1993, and retired on March 23, 2004, to enjoy life with his family, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

The two-hundredth anniversary of the enactment of the Bill of Rights occurred during Judge Gierbolini's term as Chief Judge. His remarks during the dedication of the plaque commemorating that bicentennial were published in Volume 61, Number 2, of the Revista Juridica de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, pages 527-529.

Judge Gierbolini presided one of the most important trials in the history of Puerto Rico, the trial of Police Lt. Colonel Alejo Maldonado, a trial that uncovered the web of corruption that ran throughout the Police Criminal Investigations Corps.

He enjoyed history, music and poetry and loved to recite poetry during social activities. He was a co-founder in Puerto Rico of the Fundación Pro Adelante de la Musica.

Judge Gierbolini died peacefully in his sleep on December 29, 2009.