Hon. Maria P. Rivera (Ret.)

Profile

Hon. Maria Rivera (Ret.) joins ADR Services, Inc. after spending over two decades on the Courts, where she earned a reputation for being a highly accomplished, intelligent, and fair jurist.

Justice Rivera attended law school as a scholarship student, and spent her summers in work-study programs at the San Francisco Neighborhood Legal Assistance Foundation (now Bay Area Legal Aid). She also completed an externship with California Supreme Court Justice Raymond Sullivan. After graduating first in her class, she went on to work at Morrison & Foerster for three years to develop commercial litigation experience. Thereafter, she worked in the Consumer Fraud Division of the District Attorney’s office and in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco before returning to private practice. Ultimately, she became a partner, and later of counsel at McCutchen Doyle Brown & Enersen.

Inspired by her dedication to community service and commitment to improving access to justice, Justice Rivera ran for and was elected to an open seat on the Contra Costa County Superior Court in 1996. As a Judge, Justice Rivera held assignments in the General Trial Department (felony trials), Family Law, and the Civil Fast Track Division, in addition to serving on the court’s Executive Committee. She was appointed to the California Court of Appeal in 2002.

As a recipient of numerous awards and accolades commemorating her staunch dedication and commitment to improving access to justice for all, Justice Rivera has been recognized throughout her legal career for her unwavering support of legal services throughout California. In addition to her long-standing devotion to serving the community, Justice Rivera enjoys a reputation for having a strong legal mind and for actively settling her cases as a trial judge. She is known to be a fair jurist who is well-versed in the law and has an exceptional depth and breadth of legal expertise.

EXPERIENCE INCLUDES

  • Disability Access
  • Elder Care and Abuse
  • Employment
  • Family Law
  • Construction
  • Trade Secrets
  • Land Use and CEQA
  • Landlord / Tenant
  • Real Property
  • Wage and Hour

JUDICIAL EXPERIENCE

CALIFORNIA COURT OF APPEAL, San Francisco, CA

Associate Justice, First Appellate District, Division Four, 2002-2018

  • Appointed by Governor Gray Davis
  • Confirmed and sworn in January 25, 2002

SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Martinez, CA

Judge of the Superior Court, 1996-2002

  • Civil Division (Single Assignment), 2000-2001
  • Chair of Family Law Building Committee, 1997-2001
  • Executive Committee, 1997-1999
  • Supervising Judge, Family Law Division, 1997-1999
  • General Trial Department, 1997

EDUCATION

UNIVERSITY OF SAN FRANCISCO LAW SCHOOL, San Francisco, CA

J.D., magna cum laude, 1974

  • Recorder Prize (graduated first in class)
  • Full academic scholarship, 1972-1974
  • McAuliffe Honor Society, 1972-1974

SMITH COLLEGE, Northampton, MA

B.A. with distinction, 1970

  • Graduated as First Group Scholar
  • Dean’s List 1967-1970
  • Academic scholarships (four years)
  • Major in Hispanic Studies, Minor in Psychology
  • Junior year abroad in Madrid, Spain

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

MCCUTCHEN DOYLE BROWN & ENERSEN (formerly Van Voorhis & Skaggs), Partner, Counsel, 1981-1996

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Assistant U.S. Attorney, 1979-1981

CITY AND COUNTY OF SAN FRANCISCO, Deputy District Attorney, 1978-1979

MORRISON & FOERSTER, Associate, 1974-1978

CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT, Extern to the Honorable Raymond Sullivan, Fall 1973

SAN FRANCISCO NEIGHBORHOOD LEGAL ASSISTANCE FOUNDATION, Law Clerk, 1972, 1973

HONORS AND AWARDS

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD, Judicial Council, 2015

JUDICIAL EXCELLENCE AWARD, East Bay La Raza Lawyers Association, 2013

TARA RIEDLEY BARRISTERS’ CHOICE AWARD, Bar Association of San Francisco, 2012

LEADERSHIP AWARD, California Latino Judges Association, 2012

BENJAMIN ARANDA III ACCESS TO JUSTICE AWARD, Judicial Council, California State Bar, 2011

ALUMNA OF THE YEAR, University of San Francisco Law School, 2010

DISTINGUISHED JUSTICE AWARD, San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association, 2002

TRIAL JUDGE OF THE YEAR, Alameda-Contra Costa Trial Lawyers’ Association, 2001

PRO BONO JUDGE OF THE YEAR, 1999

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS

  • University of San Francisco School of Law, Board of Governors, 2002-2005,
  • University of San Francisco School of Law, Board of Counselors, 2016-Present
  • Hispanic National Bar Association, Judicial Section, 2005-Present
  • California Latino Judges Association, 2004-Present
  • California Judges Association, 1996-Present
  • National Association of Women Judges, 1996-Present
  • Federal-State Judicial Council, 2001-2006
  • Contra Costa County Bar Association, 1981-1996
  • State Bar of California, 1974-1996
  • San Francisco Bar Association, 1974-1978

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

  • Alameda County Bar Association, East Bay Diversity Bar Coalition, Judicial Mentoring Project, Mentor, 2008-2013
  • Bar Association of San Francisco, Judicial Mentorship Program, Mentor, 2009-2013
  • Wardrobe for Opportunity, Advisory Board Member, 1998-2008
  • Invest in Kids, Advisory Board Member, 1996-2007
  • Latino Leadership Forum, Advisory Board Member, 1997-2002
  • Center for Human Development, Advisory Board Member, 1997-2001

Representative Cases

Summary of Experience in Land Use and CEQA Matters

  • During the last dozen or so years in practice, Justice Rivera has become a specialist in land use law and CEQA, representing both developers and municipalities. Justice Rivera was mentored by Dan J. Curtin (a former Walnut Creek city attorney who was known as the dean of California land use law) and has become well-schooled in all areas of land use, including planning and zoning law (she was lead counsel in Lesher Communications v. City of Walnut Creek (1990) 52 Cal.3d 531), the Subdivision Map Act, the Permit Streamlining Act, development agreements, and the Coastal Act. She is also well versed in takings law, including inverse condemnation claims arising out of regulation and imposition of mitigation measures.

    In the last few years of her practice she worked primarily on processing the approval of a major development proposal that has since permitted the construction of 11,000 dwelling units. She managed the administrative and hearing process, the legal oversight of the Environmental Impact Report, and the post-approval litigation.

    For several years Justice Rivera assisted Curtin in updating and editing his book, California Land Use and Planning Law. She also co-authored the following articles: “The Land Use Trilogy: New Directions in Litigation” by Daniel J. Curtin, Jr., and María P. Rivera, Inside Litigation, (Volume 2, Number 1, Nov. 1987) and “General Plans: Coming of Age in California” by Thomas R. Curry, Robert E. Merritt, and María P. Rivera, Real Property Law Reporter, (14 CEB RPLR 141 (May; 1991)). She also delivered the keynote speech at the California Cities’ City Attorneys Conference in May, 2007; a transcript of her speech can be found in the December 2007 issue of Western City, entitled “The Rule of Law.”

    While on the Court of Appeal Justice Rivera adjudicated many land use and CEQA matters. The published opinions include:

    • Heron Bay Homeowners Assn. v. City of San Leandro (2018) 19 Cal.App.5th 376 [CEQA/§1021.5 attorney fees]
    • People ex rel. Dept. of Transportation v. Hansen’s Truck Stop, Inc. (2015) 236 Cal.App.4th 178 [eminent domain]
    • San Francisco Beautiful v. City and County of San Francisco (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1012 [CEQA exemptions]
    • Ideal Boat & Camper Storage v. County of Alameda (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 301 [planning and zoning]
    • Healdsburg Citizens for Sustainable Solutions v. City of Healdsburg (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 988 [attorney fees]
    • No Wetlands Landfill Expansion v. County of Marin (2012) 204 Cal.App.4th 1098 [CEQA]
    • Oakland Heritage Alliance v. City of Oakland (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 884 [CEQA]
    • Katzeff v. Dept. of Forestry & Fire Protection (2010) 181 Cal.App.4th460 [CEQA/Forest Practices Act]
    • Martin v. City and County of San Francisco (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 392 [CEQA exemptions]
    • Salmon Protection & Watershed Network v. County of Marin (2004) 125 Cal.App.4th 1098 [CEQA exemptions]
    • Save Our Sunol v. Mission Valley Rock Co. (2004) 124 Cal.App.4th 276 [land use voter initiative]
    • Bowman v. City of Berkeley (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 572 [CEQA]