On September 7, for the first time in the history of New York courts, and according to Court spokesperson Lucien Chalfen, for the first time in any court, three Asian American judges sat as a panel to hear appellate argument. Below are Justice Peter Tom’s remarks marking this historic occasion.
Today, I have the distinct honor of noting a milestone in the 117-year history of this Courthouse. Today’s bench is the first time that we have three Asian American judges sitting together on our panel of justices. As the first Asian American appointed to the Appellate Division, I am particularly proud to be part of this historic moment. During my years at the First Department, I have witnessed many changes including our bench becoming more and more diverse and inclusive, and it finally has now become a reflection of the beautiful mosaic that is New York City. It is not only having the finest legal minds that advance and strengthen our court, but also having the input and perspectives from judges of different cultural backgrounds and unique life experiences that will further enhance the workings of this Court. Therefore, I applaud the Governor on his recent judicial appointments and for supporting diversity in our Court.
And, now to introduce our new judges sitting for the first time as appellate justices, in alphabetical order.
First, Justice Jeffrey Oing, who, before being appointed to our Court was elected to Civil Court in 2003, became the first Asian American supervising judge of the New York County civil court, and then was elected to Supreme Court in 2010, where he was assigned to the Commercial Division and handled complex business and financial disputes. Justice Oing received his J.D. from NYU School of Law and his B.A. from Columbia College. But also important, long before becoming a judge, Justice Oing served in numerous positions in the court system, including as a court attorney in our very own Law Department. So, in many ways this is a return home and we welcome him back.
Next, Justice Anil Singh, who before being appointed to our Court was the first Indian American elected to civil court in 2002, then became the first Indian American elected to Supreme Court in 2013, and now is the first Indian American to serve on the Appellate Division. Like Justice Oing, Justice Singh was also assigned to the Commercial Division and he too spent many years as a court attorney, specifically, to the Honorable Alice Schlesinger in both Civil Court and Supreme Court. Justice Singh earned a B.A. from Lawrence University and a J.D. from Antioch School of Law.
I wish them both luck and ask that we recognize them now by a round of applause.