Governor Nominates Jenny Rivera, Professor at CUNY Law School, to Serve on NYS Court of Appeals

State of New York | Executive Chamber
Andrew M. Cuomo | Governor
For Immediate Release: January 15, 2013


Governor Nominates Jenny Rivera, Professor at CUNY Law School, to Serve on NYS Court of Appeals

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today nominated Jenny Rivera, Professor at the City University of New York School of Law, to serve on the New York State Court of Appeals.

Professor Rivera, a longtime Bronx resident and New York native, has had a long and distinguished career in public service. She has held many varied positions, as a staff attorney at Legal Aid Society of New York City, as an Associate Counsel for the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (renamed Latino Justice PRLDEF), and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. She was Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights from 2002 to 2007. In 2007 she joined the Office of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights.

“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,” Governor Cuomo said. “As a Judge on the Court of Appeals, Professor Rivera’s legal expertise and passion for social justice will serve all New Yorkers well, and I am proud to send her nomination to the Senate today.”

Professor Rivera said, “I am deeply honored to be nominated by Governor Cuomo to serve on our Court of Appeals. As a lifetime New Yorker, this nomination is a special opportunity for me to continue to serve the people of New York. 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, and I thank the Governor for this opportunity.”

This year, Professor Rivera will receive the Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. In 2012, she received the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) Diversity Trailblazer Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2011 received the NYSBA Kay Crawford Murray Award. She is a graduate of Princeton University, and received her J.D. from the New York University School of Law and her LL.M, from Columbia University School of Law.

U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez said, “The nomination of Jenny Rivera to serve on the Court of Appeals is great news for all New Yorkers. Professor Rivera is a true public servant, and has spent her entire career as a strong, committed advocate for justice and fairness. Her legal knowledge, talents, and vast expertise will be highly valued on the Court of Appeals, and I commend Governor Cuomo for this nomination.”

Seymour W. James, Jr., President of the New York State Bar Association, said, “Jenny Rivera would bring to the Court of Appeals her keen intellect, insightful legal scholarship and a commitment to equal justice for all New Yorkers. The State Bar Association has rated her as well qualified for the position. In 2012, she won our Diversity Trailblazer Lifetime Achievement Award and, in 2010, she was the recipient of our Kay Crawford Murray Award. Her professional achievements also are being recognized in February by the American Bar Association with its prestigious Spirit of Excellence Award.”

Peter M. Reyes, Jr., Hispanic National Bar Association National President, said, “By appointing Jenny Rivera to serve on the Court of Appeals, Governor Cuomo is selecting one of New York’s sharpest legal minds to the highest bench in the state. Professor Rivera’s qualifications, lifetime dedication to public service, and reputation as a legal scholar and neutral advocate render her the right choice for the Court of Appeals. We commend the Governor for this nomination.”

Elena Goldberg Velazquez, President of the Puerto Rican Bar Association, said, “I commend Governor Cuomo for nominating Jenny Rivera to serve on the State Court of Appeals. Professor Rivera is one of New York’s most gifted legal minds, and with this appointment, Governor Cuomo is nominating an extraordinarily qualified Latina to New York State’s highest court. Professor Rivera has been one of the most active and longstanding members of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and we are very proud of her. Throughout her career, Professor Rivera has fought for justice and social inclusion, and all New Yorkers will benefit from her voice and commitment to fairness.”

Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor of the City University of New York, said, “We commend Governor Cuomo for the inspiring appointment of CUNY Law School Professor Jenny Rivera, a highly regarded scholar and teacher who will bring an impressive breadth of professional experience and judgment to the New York State Court of Appeals. On behalf of the entire community of The City University of New York, we extend our warmest congratulations.”

Michelle J. Anderson, Dean of the CUNY School of Law and Professor of Law, said, “Professor Rivera’s deep understanding and grasp of the law, as well as her temperament and integrity, make her an ideal selection to serve New Yorkers on the state’s highest court. For the years she taught our students at CUNY School of Law, Professor Rivera was a role model and example of an individual who put service to others before all else, and whose passion for equality, justice, and fairness was evident in everything she did. We commend Governor Cuomo for nominating Professor Rivera to the Court of Appeals, and look forward to her swift confirmation.”

John Sexton, President of New York University, said, “The nomination of Professor Jenny Rivera, a 1995 graduate of NYU Law School where she was a Root Tilden scholar and a former law clerk to Justice Sonya Sotomayor, does us all proud. I have known Jenny since her time at NYU where she was a student of mine in the Root Tilden Scholarship Program, which I directed. Back then, Professor Rivera was an impressive student who possessed a first rate intellect and a deep sense of compassion. Since her graduation from law school, Professor Rivera has been a distinguished member of the bar, a champion of civil rights and social justice, and at various times a dedicated public servant. If confirmed, her addition to the New York Court of Appeal as an Associate Justice will benefit all the People of this State as well as those who look to our Courts for justice. NYU commends Governor Cuomo for his excellent selection and congratulates Professor Rivera and her family.

Voters in affected counties can vote affidavit in any county / polling place

Thanks to James Hong at MinKwon for forwarding this timely update.

Governor Cuomo is signing an Executive Order which provides for a voter who is a resident in the federally-declared disaster counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, Westchester and of New York City (which includes Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens and Richmond) who have been displaced by Hurricane Sandy:

1.   To vote an affidavit ballot at any poll site in New York State, other than their regular poll site;

2.   Every Board of Elections in the State shall transmit the completed affidavit ballot of any voter who resides in one of the above counties to the Board of Elections where such voter is registered to vote to be canvassed;

3.   The affidavit ballot can only be canvassed for such contests for which the person was entitled to vote at such election.

 County Boards of Elections are directed to use all available means to:

  1. Provide notice to election inspectors and post the provisions of  the Executive Order conspicuously at poll sites in New York State giving  instruction on how to implement such Order;
  2. Instruct poll workers to provide affidavit ballots and guidance to voters; and 
  3. Provide notice and guidance to voters in accordance with this Executive Order that indicates that voters who reside in the counties of Nassau, Rockland, Suffolk, or Westchester, or in New York City may receive and complete an affidavit ballot at any polling place in New York State, and that the board of elections of the voter’s residence will count such voter’s vote for any office on such affidavit ballot for which the voter is entitled to vote. 

 The following information may help you implement the Governor’s Executive Order:

  • The ballot will be sorted out when suitcases are returned to boards after the close of polls, and those belonging in any of the declared disaster counties shall be transmit to those county boards.  It may be helpful to photocopy/scan for the board’s election files, the affidavit envelopes of voters casting ballots pursuant to this executive order prior to sending the ballots themselves on to the voter’s home county board.
  • Before counting such ballots, the county receiving same shall check to ensure the voter did not vote in person or via absentee ballot.  The county board shall then cast such ballot with other affidavit and emergency ballots, counting only those votes for contests and questions  for which the voter was eligible to vote in their own county

For example, a voter staying with family in Orange County who was displaced from Westchester, would be entitled to vote for statewide contests and Supreme Court (because those 2 counties share a judicial district) and possibly a congressional or state senate contest.  A voter who sought refuge further upstate might only be eligible to vote in the statewide contests, as they would share no other offices/contests.

Maurice Mitchell 
New York Civic Engagement Table, Coordinator
40 Worth St.
Suite 802
Manhattan, NY 10013
Office: 212-523-0180 ext. 28
Mobile: 516-425-1272
[email protected]