Jenny Rivera was nominated by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to fill a vacant seat on the state Court of Appeals. The seat was left vacant when Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick retired on December 31, according to the New York Law Journal. Rivera is a professor at the City University of New York School of Law with no experience as a judge.
In Cuomo’s announcement, he praised Rivera as a defender of legal rights for all New Yorkers who will “make our state a fairer, more just place to live.” Rivera served as a special deputy state attorney general for civil rights when Cuomo was the attorney general in 2007 and 2008. She has worked as a professor at CUNY School of Law since 2008.
“As a member of the Court of Appeals, I will work each day to uphold the laws of the state and advocate for fairness and justice,” Rivera said.
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, said, “I think it’s a terrific appointment. Professor Rivera has a wonderful reputation for her legal and academic skills and her background is ideally suited to the court. She has spent her entire professional life in the pursuit of justice and I couldn’t be more pleased with the governor’s sound judgment in making such an outstanding choice for the court.”
The dean of the CUNY School of Law, Michelle Anderson, said the following: “It is a loss for CUNY Law, but it is a substantial win for the courts of New York,” Anderson said. “Jenny has a profound commitment to equality and is a person of extraordinary integrity. She is someone who insists on fairness in process and substance and someone who is a very serious scholar and a serious faculty member.”
Vincent Bonventre, a professor at Albany Law School, said the following: “This is someone who might fall into the category of critical legal theorist or critical legal feminist, somebody who looks at these issues…from a very, very different angle. There just isn’t any question in my mind that if the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee read her stuff, some of them will be a little uncomfortable with it, not because there is anything ‘bad’ in there, but it may be a kind of scholarship they are not used to. It is the kind of legal scholarship that says in society, in the legal profession, this is what is happening to women, this is what is happening to Latinas at home, and the law is not addressing it.”
A colleague of Rivera’s at CUNY Law, professor Steven Zeidman, said, “Law professors bring much to the judicial table… That training and mindset seems just right for a judge. It is hard for me to imagine a law professor coming out of an elective system. In systems where judges are elected, candidates have to one way or another navigate the political process. Just the thought of that causes many terrific candidates to abandon pursuing a career on the bench.”