Raymond L. Acosta (1982-2010)

Raymond L.  Acosta  (1982-2010)Judge Raymond L. Acosta was born on May 31, 1925. in New York City. He is married to Marie Hatcher, and they have three children, Regina, Gregory, and Ann Marie. Judge Acosta graduated from Teaneck (New Jersey) High School in 1943, from Princeton University in 1948, and from Rutgers Law School in 1951. He was admitted to the practice of law in New Jersey and Puerto Rico bars, as well as in the Supreme Court of the United States.

Judge Acosta served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946, during World War II, and participated in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy (Utah Beach) on June 6, 1944. He scratched his name on a Nazi bunker on that fateful day. His scratches have been converted to a deserving plaque which greets visitors to what is now a museum and, fittingly French, a bistro-bar. He was awarded a Commendation Medal for his Navy Service.

He was a practicing attorney in Hackensack, New Jersey, from 1953 to 1954; a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigations in the San Diego, Washington, and Miami Field Offices, from 1954 to 1958; an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Puerto Rico, from 1958 to 1961; a Litigation Attorney in the Baker & Woods Law Firm, from 1961 to 1962; a partner in the Igarávidez & Acosta Law Firm, from 1962 to 1967; a Senior Vice-President & Trust Officer of the Banco Crédito y Ahorro Ponceño, from 1968 to 1978, and a Vice-President at Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, from 1978 to 1980. He was Chairman of the Trust Division of the Puerto Rico Bankers Association in 1971, and again from 1975 to 1977, and served as President of the United Fund of Puerto Rico in 1979.

He was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as an alternate delegate to the U.S. Puerto Rico Commission on the Status of Puerto Rico (STACOM) from 1962 to 1963, and was a member of the Governor's Special Committee to study the structure and organization of the Puerto Rico Police Department in 1969.

In 1980 he was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as the United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, serving until September 1982, when he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as a United States District Judge.

He presided over the litigation of the Dupont Plaza Hotel arson during which 98 persons were killed and 140 injured on New Year's Eve 1986. The trial, described as "fast becoming the largest mass disaster litigation in United States history" by The National Law Journal in its January 11, 1988 edition, involved over 2,400 plaintiffs and 250 defendants. The trial commenced on March 15, 1989, a mere twenty seven months after the fire. Judge Acosta instituted a number of innovations to deal with the enormity of the litigation. He divided the trial in phases; he ordered the construction of a special courtroom on the mezzanine floor of a local bank building to accommodate the 50-60 attorneys in addition to their clients and witnesses who were in attendance on any given day; and, at the request of the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee, Judge Acosta approved the use of satellite-transmitted live testimony into the San Juan courtroom from various parts of the United States, a ruling upheld by the First Circuit Court of Appeals. He also initiated the concept of a Settlement Coordinator by utilizing the services of Judge Louis Bechtle, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, to explore settlement possibilities, while Judge Acosta pressed on with discovery and logistical matters in the case, which has been described by Judge Selya of the First Circuit Court of Appeals as a "litigatory monster."  After three trial phases over the course of nineteen months, Judge Acosta approved a $220 million settlement.

Judge Acosta was one of the founders of the then-called Antilles Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, and served as its first president in 1967. On August 28, 2008, the Puerto Rico Chapter of the Federal Bar Association was renamed "The Honorable Raymond L. Acosta Puerto Rico Chapter of the Federal Bar Association" in his honor. On that same date he was named a Life Fellow of the Foundation of the Federal Bar Association.

Judge Acosta retired on February 1, 2010.  On December 23, 2014, he died peacefully in his home in Chapin, South Carolina, after a long and valiant battle with cancer.