The state Senate confirmed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s selection for New York’s top court, formally approved City University of New York law professor Jenny Rivera as the newest addition to the Court of Appeals.
Rivera, who served as a special deputy to Cuomo when he was in the attorney general’s office, was approved by the Senate in a voice vote after several Republican senators expressed concerns about her qualifications.
“Jenny Rivera is a fine legal mind and I am completely confident that New Yorkers who come before her bench will know one certain truth: Justice will be served,” said Senate Independent Democratic Leader Jeff Klein, D-Bronx.
Rivera was Cuomo’s first pick for the seven-judge panel that makes up the Court of Appeals. He nominated her in January, citing her “legal expertise and passion for social justice.”
Several Republicans, however, took issue with her lack of experience as a judge or a trial lawyer, with Senate Judiciary Chairman John Bonacic, R-Mt. Hope, Orange County, accusing governors of “social engineering” rather than picking the most qualified candidate. Rivera will replace retired Judge Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick; both are Puerto Rican females.
Bonacic pointed to the list of seven names recommended by Cuomo’s judicial selection committee. Three are currently judges in the state’s Appellate Division.
“If you want to believe that there is no social engineering in judicial picks and it is qualifications and only qualifications that matter, then you must believe that this nominee is better than three appellate judges,” Bonacic said during the Senate debate.