Assemblymember Karines Reyes suggests Hon. Jenny Rivera as potential Chief Judge

March 14, 2023 Robert Abruzzese
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ALBANY — The annual New York Somos conference is expected to be a significant networking event for lawmakers and politicians in Albany this year. Newly elected Chair of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, Assemblymember Karines Reyes, has outlined a long list of priorities, including health care, housing and securing funding for CUNY, that will guide her legislative agenda this session.

Reyes believes that the timing of the conference, just ahead of the April 1 budget deadline, may allow attendees to impact the final budget and address issues impacting both the Latino community and New York State.

Regarding the recent nomination fight over Hector LaSalle for chief judge, Reyes disagrees with the notion that the battle was an attack on Latinos. Instead, she believes it was an ideological fight over the direction of the state and judiciary.

“This is not about politicizing the court,” Reyes told Shantel Destra of City & State New York. “This is really about having the ideals of New Yorkers represented. It’s unfortunate that Justice LaSalle had to go through all of that, but I think moving forward we have an opportunity to really look at some candidates that would check all those boxes that would be Latino or Latina – because I would love to see a woman there – but also embodies the progressive values of New York.”

Hon. Shirley Troutman and Hon. Rowan Wilson are two other names that were not on the previous nomination list for chief judge that are rumored to potentially be included in the next list due within the next four months. Photo of Troutman courtesy of the Office of Court Administration.

Reyes suggested that Hon. Jenny Rivera, who was overlooked for the position of acting chief judge due to an administrative issue regarding her vaccination status, would be an excellent choice for the role.

“I think Jenny Rivera was somebody who potentially should have been the acting chief judge and was overlooked over an administrative issue regarding her vaccination status,” Reyes said. “We’ve seen that reversed in other public sectors and private sectors. This is an opportunity for us to reevaluate our choices and really look at her as somebody who can fill the role of a chief judge.”

The Commission on Judicial Nomination is facing a difficult task in choosing a shortlist of candidates for the Court of Appeals to replace Hector LaSalle after his rejection by the state Senate.

Hon. Shirley Troutman and Hon. Rowan Wilson are two other names that were not on the previous nomination list for chief judge that are rumored to potentially be included in the next list due within the next four months. Photo of Troutman courtesy of the Office of Court Administration.

The Commission reopened the application process. Three names who did not make it onto the previous list could potentially make it this time around: Hon. Jenny Rivera, Hon. Rowan Wilson, and Hon. Shirley Troutman.

Justice Rivera is aligned with the Democratic Legislature and affinity groups, while Troutman is a swing voter and could potentially bring the divided court together. The Commission has until four months after the March 10 application deadline to submit the new shortlist to Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Justice Rivera is an Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, nominated by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2013 and confirmed by the New York State Senate. She has spent her entire professional career in public service, working for organizations such as the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Family Rights Project, the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the New York State Division for Human Rights.

Judge Rivera also served on the New York City Commission on Human Rights and was a tenured faculty member of the CUNY School of Law, where she founded and directed the Law School’s Center on Latino and Latina Rights and Equality. She received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University and her law degrees from New York University School of Law and Columbia University School of Law.


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