NAPABA Press Release: Nomination of Hon. Jacqueline H. Nguyen


NAPABA Contact: Emily Chatterjee (202) 775-9555

September 23, 2011

AAJC Contact: Leonie Campbell-Williams (443) 803-1465


WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) applaud the decision of President Barack Obama to nominate Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. If confirmed, Judge Nguyen would become the first Asian Pacific American woman in the history of the United States to serve as a federal appellate court judge and only the second Asian Pacific American federal appellate court judge currently in active service nationwide.

“Judge Nguyen is an exceptional judge who has a proven track record as a jurist,” said Paul O. Hirose, president of NAPABA. “Moreover, given that there is not one single active Asian Pacific American federal appellate court judge in the Ninth Circuit, where approximately 10 percent of the population is Asian Pacific American, Judge Nguyen’s nomination is even more appropriate.”

It has been more than seven years since there has been an active Asian Pacific American federal appellate court judge in the Ninth Circuit. From 1971 to 2004, there was at least one active Asian Pacific American federal appellate court judge on this Circuit.

“We commend President Obama on the nomination of Judge Nguyen to the Ninth Circuit,” said Karen K. Narasaki, president and executive director of AAJC. “She has been a trailblazer in every step of her career, and we are confident that she will continue to distinguish herself as the first Asian Pacific American woman to serve as a federal appellate court judge.”

Judge Nguyen has served as a federal district court judge for the Central District of California since 2009. Prior to that, she served as a California state court judge for seven years. Judge Nguyen also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California, where she argued several appeals before the Ninth Circuit.

Judge Nguyen was born in Dalat, South Vietnam, the daughter of a South Vietnamese Army major who worked closely with U.S. intelligence officers. She escaped the fall of South Vietnam with her family in a harrowing trip, starting with a terrifying toss over a fence, to a plane ride filled wall to wall with people, temporary separation from her father, through a chaotic Saigon, to the Philippines, to Guam, and eventually, to Camp Pendleton, California. Having been born into a life of privilege, then to lose it all to the chaos of war, Judge Nguyen embraced her new life in America with grace, fortitude, determination and cheerful modesty. Growing up, she assisted her mother in cleaning dental offices and earned a four-year full tuition scholarship to Occidental College, eventually graduating from UCLA School of Law, continuing all the while to help her mother in the family donut shop on the weekends.

NAPABA and AAJC congratulate Judge Nguyen on her historic nomination. The organizations thank President Obama for nominating her, and commend Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for their support of Judge Nguyen’s nomination.


The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 62 local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members represent solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes professional development of minorities in the legal profession.

The Asian American Justice Center (, a member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, works closely with its sister organizations – the Asian American Institute in Chicago (, the Asian Law Caucus ( in San Francisco and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center ( in Los Angeles – to promote a fair and equitable society for all by working for civil and human rights and empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities.