BY CLYDE HUGHES | AC JosepH Media
LYNDHURST — The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ and others praised Gov. Phil Murphy’s intention to nominate Michael Noriega to the state’s Supreme Court. Noriega would be just the third Hispanic to ever serve on the court.
If confirmed, Noriega would be the only Latino serving on the seven-member New Jersey Supreme Court. There is currently one other ethnic minority, Fabiana Pierre-Louis, an African American woman, on the court.
Noriega, who was born of immigrants from Peru, is a partner at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan. He served as assistant deputy public defender for Essex County for five years. In 2012, he joined his current firm after running his own law firm for six years.
“One of the chamber’s missions is to promote diversity and ensure that diverse individuals are represented on the boards of directors, C-Suites, and in senior roles such as the prestigious role of the state’s top court,” Carlos Medina, president and CEO of the SHCCNJ said in a statement this month.
Luis Dela Hoz, chairman of the SHCCNJ, added: “As a qualified and local New Jersey talent, we are very happy to hear about this nomination.”
The Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey said Noriega meets all the qualifications to receive such a historic nomination, according to ROI-NJ.
“We expect him to proudly promote and serve justice for all New Jerseyans,” the association said in a statement. “As part of his practice, Michael represents core members of New Jersey’s underrepresented communities, including immigrants fighting for their right to stay in this country.
“He previously worked as a public defender. He has devoted his career to ensuring that everyone has a voice, irrespective of their race, color, religion or socioeconomic status.”
Christian Estevez, the former president of the Latino Action Network, added, according to a story in ROI-NJ: “Not only is he immensely qualified, but he has walked the walk, he’s done work as a public defender, working on behalf of immigrants. He has been in the trenches for the people who need help the most.”
Raised in Union City, Noriega graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s in American studies and the Seton Hall University School of Law in 2002.
Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, who represents Noriega’s hometown of Union City, added her support in a statement.
“Noriega is an accomplished immigration defense lawyer, and former public defender, who has helped both documented and undocumented residents of our state. The son of immigrants himself, Noriega has spent his legal career fighting for those who chose to make New Jersey their home,” she said. “I am pleased to see a Latino selected to serve on the state’s highest court, and look forward to the Senate’s confirmation process.”
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