On February 16, in the
AABANY co-sponsored event “Path to the Bench with the Honorable Denny Chin of
the Second Circuit,” held at the offices of Patterson, Belknap in midtown
Manhattan, attendees had the pleasure of hearing from Judge Chin of the United
States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The Muslim Bar Association of
New York (MuBANY) organized the event, which was also co-sponsored by the
Association of Muslim American Lawyers, Filipino American Lawyers Association of New
York, the Hispanic National Bar Association – Region II (New York), the Korean
American Lawyers Association of Greater New York, the New York City Bar Office
of Diversity and Inclusion, the New York Women’s Bar Association, and the South
Asian Bar Association of New York.

Born in Hong Kong, Judge
Chin first moved to the United States at the age of two. He would later on
attend Princeton to study Psychology before enrolling in Fordham Law School.
After law school, he clerked for Judge Henry Werker in the Southern District,
and then moved on to Davis Polk before leaving to serve as Assistant U.S
Attorney for the Southern District. He then founded his own law firm, Campbell,
Patrick & Chin, and also worked at Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard
P.C. before finally moving on to the bench .  

While a district judge,
Judge Chin tried a number of high profile cases, including Doe v. Pataki (which earned him the infamous nickname “Denny ‘the
Pervert’s Pal’ Chin”), Million Youth
March v. City of New York
, Naked
Cowboy v. Blue M&M
, the infamous Bernie Madoff case, and Morales v. Portuondo (which was featured
on an episode of “Law and Order”), among many other cases. As a circuit
 , he ruled on Authors
Guild, Inc. v. Google, Inc.
and NFL
Management Council v. NFL Players Association
, better known as the “Deflategate”

In addition to giving a
sense of the sheer diversity of his past cases, Judge Chin also provided some
insight on judicial practice and the present state of the judiciary. When asked
about the role of empathy in a judge’s decision-making process, Judge Chin acknowledged
the importance of empathy but was careful to note the distinction between
empathy and pity: the former denotes the ability to understand the predicaments
of both the plaintiff and defendant, the latter implies potential leniency in
sentencing. He also mentioned the distinct experience of judging a case that
involved an Asian American male defendant. When asked about whether he was
inclined towards leniency in sentencing because of ethnic ties, Judge Chin
responded by stating that the man had actually, through a letter, expressed how
ashamed he felt in having to inflict such a burden of judgment. Judge Chin also
spoke positively about the increase in the diversity of judges at the federal
level, which he attributed to the earnest efforts of President Obama.

Judge Chin
is a shining example of how diversity can enrich judicial decision-making.
Occasionally, he does get lonely as a circuit judge, for he now no longer has
the opportunity to “rub elbows with the people” as he once did as a trial
judge. Nevertheless, Judge Chin has found other ways to interact with members
of the community, most notably through lecturing and mentoring. 

the presentation, attendees had the chance to speak directly with Judge Chin
and network with other attendees from the various participating bar
associations. Many thanks to MuBANY for organizing this memorable and inspiring

(Thanks to AABANY intern Jason Cheung for the write-up.)