In a packed, standing-room-only Ceremonial Courtroom of the United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, in Brooklyn, on Tuesday, January 5, Hon. Peggy Kuo was sworn in during her investiture ceremony.
Joined by family, friends, colleagues and Judges of the Eastern District of New York, the ceremony was a joyous celebration of the newest addition to the court’s bench. Chief Judge Carol Bagley Amon welcomed the attendees, noting the great distances traveled by Magistrate Judge Kuo’s family, coming from all across the United States, with one aunt coming from Taiwan. Chief Judge Amon swore in Magistrate Judge Kuo, after which her parents, Chung Kai and Yuchih Kuo, performed the robing of the Eastern District’s newest judge.
Judge Kuo’s former colleague at the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Hon. Noel A. Brennan (now a judge in the United States Immigration Court), presented remarks that noted Judge Kuo’s outstanding background and major achievements during and after her stint in the DOJ.
Following Judge Brennan was Judge Pamela K. Chen who expressed gratitude that she got to know Judge Kuo as an adult, as colleagues at DOJ, rather than when Judge Kuo was still in school, because had she known Judge Kuo back then, Judge Chen’s parents surely would have held Peggy Kuo up as a model of the perfect Chinese daughter, excelling in school and respectful of her parents. Judge Chen candidly admitted that she would have hated Peggy Kuo, drawing appreciative laughter from the audience. However, Judge Chen got to know Peggy Kuo as an excellent attorney with a strong sense of justice who handled her cases with skill and integrity. Judge Chen welcomed Judge Kuo as a member of the Eastern District bench.
Judge Kuo, in her remarks, thanked her parents for their sacrifice and support, in immigrating to New York in the late 1960s. Judge Kuo poignantly noted that her father departed for the United States in 1964 when her mother was pregnant with her first child, Peggy, and that the first time she met her father was when she arrived at the airport in New York in 1967.
Judge Kuo has three sister and noted that although Chinese families typically favored sons, her parents never regretted having four daughters. They were, however, painfully aware of the challenges that their four daughters would face in a world that was not kind to women, recalling the bound feet of the Chinese women of earlier generations. Judge Kuo and her sisters all excelled academically and professionally.
Judge Kuo concluded by observing that courtrooms are generally not happy places, with people coming mostly to resolve some kind of conflict. The two exceptions are naturalization ceremonies and investitures, which are occasions of celebration. Judge Kuo thanked everyone for coming and invited all to stay for the reception.
Guests were treated to tasty Asian fare, but perhaps more enjoyable than the food and drink was the singing. Judge Kuo’s colleagues in the Federal Bar Council’s Inn of Court, dubbing themselves the “Inn of Court Players,” broke out in a rousing tribute to Judge Kuo in a number entitled (appropriately enough) “Peggy Kuo,” sung to the tune of “Let it Go” from “Frozen.” Not to be outdone, a while later, Judge Kuo’s family members, accompanied by Judge Kuo’s husband Tom Kennedy on bass, sang a string of traditional Chinese songs. At that point, there was no question that we were at a Chinese party.
We congratulate Judge Kuo on her investiture and we thank her for being such an inspirational role model and trailblazer. Many AABANY members were in attendance, and we are all proud of her achievements. We wish her all the best for a stellar career on the bench.