Alicia Gerez, the daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic who grew up in the crime-ridden Brooklyn neighborhood of East Flatbush, last month achieved a life-long dream when the State Senate confirmed her to a seat on the New York Court of Claims.
Gerez, 51, was nominated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in late May. She was among a diverse pool of attorneys to fill vacancies left in state courts. Cuomo said the candidates reflected the diversity, talent, and experience present throughout New York’s judicial system.
“It was just an incredible moment for me to have the governor nominate me and the state senate confirm me,” Gerez said. “I’ve been an attorney for about 25 years now and you develop an expertise.”
The New York State Court of Claims is the exclusive forum for civil litigation seeking damages against the State of New York or certain other State-related entities
Gerez reflected on the challenges she faced as a youth in East Flatbush, where crime was prevalent. Being the daughter of two immigrants, she was the family’s translator and at times struggled to make ends meet.
She realized at a young age that she would have to work harder than others to achieve her dreams.
“I was surrounded by a lot of guns and drug violence and I just really wanted to get out of there, “Gerez said. “I wanted better circumstances for myself.”
Throughout her time in school, she began to develop a passion for law and understood that her passion could be the gateway she needed to form a better life.
She moved to Long Beach in 1994, while attending Hofstra Law School. Prior to Hofstra, she attended St. Francis College. She would go on to work as an associate at a personal injury law firm and then serve as a court attorney since 2002, most recently for State Supreme Court Judge Alison Tuitt.
Gerez is also invested in the community serving as a trustee at the Hagedorn Little Village School and a volunteer for Surf For All, where her daughter Grace attends camp and learned to surf. At Surf for All, she met one of her biggest supporters, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who was among the state senators to confirm her appointment.
“Judge Gerez has dedicated her career to advancing justice, and she will make an excellent addition to the bench,” Kaminsky said. “I was proud to confirm her to the Court, and am confident she will bring our community much pride from her service on the bench.”
Gerez also expressed her gratitude for Kaminsky’s support.
“I am eternally grateful to Senator Todd Kaminsky for his unwavering support of my nomination,” Gerez said.
Gerez, who is expected to serve a nine-year term, started her post shortly after being confirmed and went right to work. She noted that the bench and court staff reflect the community they serve, which was an added bonus for her. With the courts recovering from the pandemic, Gerez said she is ready to give the people the justice they are seeking.
“Especially with Covid a lot of people have been waiting for justice,” Gerez said. “It really is a privilege to serve justice and the State of New York. I’m just so honored and humbled.”