Antonio "Tony" Silva died on Sept 15, 2009, after a courageous battle with cancer. He was known as an intelligent and skillful attorney and a strong advocate for his clients and the causes he believed in.
After graduating second in the Class of 1976 from the UNM School of Law, he worked for the Legal Aid Society of Albuquerque. Two years later he became director of Southern New Mexico Legal Aid Services, where he increased the number of offices from three to 10.
In 1983, he went into private practice in El Paso, where for more than 20 years, he focused on employment and sexual harassment law. In the 1980s, he won a class action suit against the FBI. He claimed that Latino agents were being discriminated against in that they were being stationed on the front lines in some of the most dangerous places in the world (Latin America, Cartel Based Intelligence). The class action also sought to correct the discriminatory hiring processes of the FBI.
It was for his work on this case that the Mexican American Law Student Association presented him with its second Fighting for Justice Award in 1997.
Silva grew up in the barrio of Atrisco in Albuquerque, the 12th of 13 children. During his final semester of law school, he was the first student to serve on the Law School Admission Committee. Following graduation, in the 1970s, he helped to change culturally unfair aspects of the New Mexico Bar Exam.