By Daniel Wiessner
ALBANY, N.Y., Jan 15 (Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew
Cuomo on Tuesday nominated CUNY School of Law Professor Jenny
Rivera to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals.
If confirmed by the state Senate, Rivera, 52, would be the
second Hispanic judge in the court's history.
Rivera, a Bronx resident and New York native, would replace
Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, the court's first Hispanic judge, who
stepped down from the bench on Dec. 31 after reaching the
mandatory retirement age of 70.
"Throughout her career, Professor Rivera has worked to
defend the legal rights of all New Yorkers and make our state a
fairer, more just place to live," Cuomo said in a statement.
Rivera did not immediately return a request for comment. In
a statement she said she was deeply honored and vowed to "uphold
the laws of the state and advocate for fairness and justice."
The other candidates for the seat, named in December by the
state Commission on Judicial Nomination, are Justices Sheila
Abdus-Salaam and Rolando Acosta of the Appellate Division, First
Department; Fourth Department Justice Eugene Fahey; Kathy Chin
of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft; David Schulz of Levine
Sullivan Koch & Schulz; and Margarita Rosa, the executive
director of Grand Street Settlement.
Rivera joined the faculty of CUNY School of Law in 1997 and
is the founder and director of the school's Center on Latino and
Latina Rights and Equality. She was an administrative law judge
for the state Division of Human Rights and in 2007 served as a
special deputy attorney general for civil rights under Cuomo,
who was then attorney general.
Rivera also worked as a Legal Aid staff attorney and
associate counsel for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and
Education Fund. She clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia
Sotomayor from 1993 to 1994, when Sotomayor was a judge in the
Southern District of New York.
Rivera graduated from Princeton University and received her
J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1985 and an LLM
from Columbia University School of Law.
If confirmed, she will serve a 14-year term and be eligible
for reappointment until Dec. 31, 2030.
Under the state constitution, the Senate must hold
confirmation proceedings within one month of the governor's
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair John Bonacic said he looks
forward to meeting and interviewing Rivera, and he noted her
significant background in human rights law.
In a statement, Seymour James, the president of the New York
State Bar Association, praised Rivera's "keen intellect,
insightful legal scholarship and ... commitment to equal
Cuomo will have another chance to make his mark on the court
when he fills the seat vacated by Judge Theodore Jones, who died
of a heart attack in November.
The Commission on Judicial Nomination must send a list of up
to seven candidates for Jones's seat by March 7 to Cuomo, who
must select a nominee by early April.
The commission has said that the six candidates who were not
chosen for Ciparick's seat will be considered for the Jones
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