Additionally, Rivera has written that Hispanics are routinely subjected to "violence by public officials" in the form of police brutality, unwarranted stop-and-frisks, prosecutorial bias resulting in higher charges and longer sentences and a seeming indifference to domestic crimes suffered by Latinas.
"While these forms of violence by public officials stand apart from violence by private individuals, both are intricately connected and arguably codependent," Rivera wrote in 2009 ("The Continuum of Violence Against Latinas and Latinos," 12 New York City Law Review 399, 2009). "Inflammatory media stereotypes that propagate inaccurate images of Latinos as a danger to the United States government and economy are an integral part of this continuum of violence."
She further complained that authorities as well as private individuals "have turned their anger towards one sector of the Latino community, Latino workers who are undocumented," a hostility "made possible by a new, yet all too familiar, wave of anti-immigrant rhetoric."
If Rivera is confirmed, which seems likely because no Court of Appeals nominee has ever been rejected by the Senate, she would bring the perspective of a career academic to the courta perspective it has rarely, if ever, had.
While many renowned scholars have sat on the U.S. Supreme Court, including the late Felix Frankfurter and incumbent Elena Kagan, none of the current or recent judges of the state's top court came from academia. Many were former Appellate Division justices, some were lower court judges, a few were practicing lawyers.
Court watchers and staff were unable to identify any judge who moved directly from a law professorship to Eagle Street.
Retired Court of Appeals Judge Stewart Hancock Jr. said the addition of an academic to the court would increase its intellectual diversity. Hancock said since judges are more commonly elevated from the Appellate Divisionsas was hethey tend to have similar experiences, and the experiences of litigators follow a trajectory similar to that of trial and mid-level appellate judges.
"To have someone who can look at the sophisticated problems that come up in perhaps a different way than those who came up from the Appellate Divisions adds breadth to the court, and I think that is a positive," said Hancock, now of counsel at Goris & O'Sullivan in Cazenovia.
Although Rivera worked early in her career as a Legal Aid attorney and administrative law judge and spent a year and a half as a special deputy state attorney general for civil rights, she has primarily worked in academia.
Rivera, a history major at Princeton before earning law degrees at New York University School of Law (J.D.) and Columbia (LL.M), was an assistant professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston in the mid-1990s, a visiting professor at American University in Washington and has been on the CUNY faculty since 1997.
And unlike most judges, Rivera did not arise from politics. She is a registered Democrat like the governor who nominated her, Andrew Cuomo, and she worked for Cuomo when he was attorney general, but she has never held elective office.