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Jenny Rivera, Raised on the Lower East Side, Appointed to State’s Highest Court

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Governor Cuomo presents Judge Rivera with the gavel of the late Judge Benjamin Cardozo. Photo: Albany Times Union.

CUNY law professor Jenny Rivera was confirmed Monday to a seat on the State Court of Appeals.  She becomes only the second Latina to serve on New York’s highest court.  Rivera grew up on the Lower East Side, though she’s lived in the Bronx for many years.

Senate Republicans grilled Rivera during confirmation hearings, complaining that she had no judicial experience.  In response, Governor Cuomo, who nominated Rivera, said, “What makes a court a great court is a wide perspective.” Noting that Rivera served as an attorney representing those less fortunate, he added, “She didn’t represent big corporations… She wasn’t representing wealthy people on how to arrange their trusts and estates — that’s right. She spent her life, through public service, helping people live their lives.”

Rivera, who’s Puerto Rican,  lived in the Baruch Houses. Her mom struggled financially, working in glove and hat factories.  Rivera has degrees from Princeton and New York University.

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