NAPABA is aware of a highly unusual development in the judicial selection process in the State of New York. It is our understanding that, for the first time in the state’s history, a local screening committee has declined to vote a sitting judge, Justice Doris Ling-Cohan, out of committee, thereby denying her the opportunity to seek re-election, with the effect of removing her from the bench. While we are also aware of press reports of potential changes in this development, to our knowledge, the decision of the screening panel has not been reversed, and Justice Ling-Cohan is not on the ballot for the November election. Justice Ling-Cohan is the first and only Asian Pacific American woman on the appellate courts of New York. This statistic is particularly striking, as Asian Pacific Americans make up 7.3 percent of the population of New York. We encourage our local affiliates, who are closest to the process and to the relevant players, to closely investigate and monitor the situation, and for the New York legal community to take every step necessary to ensure that judges are treated fairly and on the merits, and are given the opportunity to confront and respond to any expressed concerns or objections.
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 approximately 50,000 attorneys and approximately 75 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members include solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal services 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 the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of color in the legal profession.