My Demons Were Real: The Legal Struggles of Joseph Calamia


by Bob Ybarra

ISBN: 978-1-55885-608-0
Publication Date: November 30, 2010
Bind: Trade Paperback
Pages: 280

An informative account of an El Paso attorney’s long career fighting to preserve individual’s rights.

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About The Book

Even as a teenager, Joseph Albert Calamia understood the need to live by the rule of law. In high school, a class bully’s continual harassment of a skinny Hispanic kid led Joseph to confront him. But he wisely did so with the coach’s permission, challenging the boy to a boxing match. The tormentor went down quickly and Calamia settled the score under the jurisdiction of the high school coach.

Calamia began his career as a criminal defense attorney in El Paso, Texas, in 1949. He was a crusader for justice, considered by many to be akin to Don Quixote, tilting at windmills. But he disagreed, “The big difference is that my demons were real.” His demons were the institutionalized practices that favored expediency over the rights of individuals; he spent his lifetime fighting to ensure peoples’ rights were not trampled by law makers and enforcers.

A World War II veteran, Calamia grew up in El Paso’s Segundo Barrio, a few blocks from the Rio Grande River that separated Mexico from the United States. He grew up in a world that expected those of Mexican descent to maintain their inferior status. But he couldn’t stand by and let injustice occur without a fight. Over the course of his long career, Calamia successfully challenged a host of attacks against civil liberties, including police undercover tactics and the constitutionality of searches and seizures in drug, immigration, and other cases.

Published as part of Hispanic Civil Rights Series, this enlightening book documents the efforts of one man who devoted his life to protecting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.