On June 30, the Prosecutors Committee held its 7th Annual Reception at Brooklyn Law School, honoring Deputy U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim and the family of fallen hero Detective Wenjian Liu. This reception was one of the Prosecutors Committee’s most powerful yet, paying homage to the work done by those in public service and the sacrifice of those in law enforcement.
As in past years, senior leaders of the District Attorney’s Offices were invited to speak, each person touching upon what exactly makes this event and this Committee so unique. As noted by one speaker, DA of Kings County Ken Thompson, the Prosecutors Committee gives the DA’s Offices a chance to recognize and celebrate the important work done by their Asian American friends and colleagues. In addition to honoring important figures in the community, the AABANY Prosecutors Reception also recognizes that our values and identity as Asian Americans may inform our attitudes in working in the public interest. One of the running jokes of the evening – sorry we disappointed our parents by not becoming doctors – played on the notion that perhaps becoming a lawyer is not the most common choice for Asian Americans, let alone becoming a lawyer who makes no money. Yet it is that humility and humor that underscores the pride in representing the people. As stated by Joon Kim in his speech for the evening, “As a prosecutor, you only have one job to do – and that job is doing the right thing.”
Following the remarks of leading prosecutors and AABANY President Will Wang, Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Public Leadership Award Recipient at AABANY’s 2015 Annual Dinner, introduced his Deputy U.S. Attorney and longtime friend Joon H. Kim. Joking that he and Joon, as the Harold & Kumar of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, had come such a long way, Preet Bharara spoke to Joon Kim’s character and accomplishments. Taking a pay cut from a 7-figure salary as Partner at the prominent law firm Cleary Gottlieb, Joon Kim described his choice to rejoin the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a no-brainer. In his role as a prosecutor, Joon Kim is proud to tell his children what he does every day – he puts criminals away, not as Batman, but as a lawyer who helps Batman.
Each and every person who spoke recognized the ultimate sacrifice of Detective Wenjian Liu and his parents. Prosecutor Committee Co-Chair Kin Ng spoke of Det. Liu’s life and of the spirit of his family and read the translated remarks from Det. Liu’s father. After immigrating to this country at the age of 12, Det. Liu took special care even as a child to take care of his family and those around him. This duty to protect and care for others extended throughout his entire life. Motivated by the events of 9/11, Det. Liu, who with his many talents could have done anything, chose to join the forces of the NYPD to protect the city. Det. Liu was the kind of person that always stopped to help the elderly cross the street. When Det. Liu’s mother was weak, he carried her on his back to the doctor. Det. Liu’s father shared that although they immigrated to this country and they faced such difficulty with the language barrier, they experienced boundless joy due to their only son Wenjian.
Although now Det. Liu has passed, his sacrifice has not been forgotten. We were proud to offer our remembrance of Det. Liu and support of his family. His father, mother, and widow moved the audience to tears and received a warm standing ovation. Although no words can speak to the grief and pain felt by those Det. Liu left behind, we once again thank his family for their sacrifice.
In attendance were over 100 attorneys, judges, law students, and friends. AABANY Executive Director Yang Chen, President Will Wang, and President-Elect Susan Shin were in attendance to present these honors. The Prosecutors Reception has already been covered by Korea Times and World Journal.
We thank the Prosecutors Committee for once again organizing this flagship event, especially Monica Huang, Kin Ng, Jim Lin, and Brian Lee.
AABANY’s live-feed of the event:
Thanks to everyone who made it to the Prosecutors Reception. We can’t wait for the show to start. pic.twitter.com/T46C11W3lr
Tonight, we are honoring Joon Kim and the family of Det. Wenjian Liu. pic.twitter.com/ypc3QczOsZ
We consider our Prosecutors one of the strongest Committees at AABANY and celebrate 7 years. –@AABANYPres Will Wang
Thanks to @brooklynlaw for hosting us!
As the new DA of Brooklyn, I am proud to stand here to recognize the great work of the Prosecutors Committee and Joon Kim. -DA Ken Thompson
To the family of Det. Liu, you gave us a great man who could have done many things but chose to protect us and gave his life. -DA Thompson
DA Thompson gave a public and very warm thank you to Kin Ng of our Prosecutors Committee, Chief of the Immigration Fraud Unit in Brooklyn!
“This whole city’s heart broke when Det. Liu died, and his family has taught us so much of dignity and service.”
“We will never forget the sacrifice that [Det. Wenjian Liu] made in service of this great city.”
“I have only missed one of these celebrations in seven years, and I was direly sick. I come here to honor my colleagues.” -ADA Jessie Slack
“You have made the ultimate sacrifice of giving your son to not only the city, but the world. The world knows of your sacrifice.” -ADA Slack
We also wish Joon H. Kim well in his new role as Deputy U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York!
Preet Bharara of SDNY: “Every year you change the borough, but we find it anyway. Thanks for this wonderful reception.”
Preet Bharara: We used to joke that NAPIPA stood for “National Association of Prosecutors Instead of Physicians, Alas!” #APAHumor
Preet Bharara: Fifteen or sixteen years ago, someone used to joke that Joon H. Kim and I were the Harold & Kumar of line prosecutors.
Preet Bharara: “The loss of your son Det. Liu was felt not only by you, but all of law enforcement and those who respect the rule of law.”
Joon H. Kim: “I feel honored and unworthy of being mentioned in the same night as Det. Wenjian Liu and his ultimate sacrifice.”
Joon H. Kim: “As a prosecutor, you only have one job to do, and that’s the right thing.” pic.twitter.com/oUXIHOiWFr
Joon H. Kim: “I’m proud to tell my kids what I do. I’m not quite Batman, but I’m like the lawyer that helps Batman.”
Joon H. Kim: I applaud the Prosecutors Committee and I applaud the senior leadership of the DA’s Offices that make the time to celebrate.
Joon H. Kim: Thank you to Preet Bharara, who I believe is one of the best U.S. Attorneys in all of the SDNY’s storied history.
Inspired by the events of 9/11, Det. Wenjian Liu joined the @NYPDnews in order to serve his community.
Kin Ng: “Det. Wenjian Liu’s parents remind me of my own.” pic.twitter.com/jrcKIhBNzL
Kin Ng: “It is my honor to recognize a hero and present his family, some of the most genuine people I have ever met.” #WenjianLiu
The father of Det. Wenjian Liu: “I brought my only son to this country when he was 12. Because of Wenjian, we were filled with joy.”
We were so proud to honor Deputy U.S. Attorney – SDNY Joon Kim and the family of Wenjian Liu today! Thank you to all those who attended.
Edit: Our apologies for earlier misidentifying Executive ADA Jesse Sligh as Jessie Slack on our Twitter feed during our Prosecutors Reception!