Media release from the Asian American Law Fund of New York:
New York, NY – The Asian American Law Fund of New York will hold its 2018 Summer
Reception on June 28, 2018 hosted by a leading international law firm, Paul Hastings,
LLP at its offices at 200 Park Avenue. Featured speaker will be the Honorable Toko
Serita, who presides over the unique & innovative Queens Human Trafficking
Intervention Courtroom, the oldest and largest court in New York dedicated to serving
trafficking victims and survivors. Justice Serita and this impactful court are subjects of a
new documentary entitled “Blowin’ Up”.
Justice Serita, a graduate of Vassar College & the City University of New York School
of Law, has been a longtime advocate for a coordinated judicial response to human
trafficking. She is the chair of New York’s Human Trafficking Working Group and is a
former co-chair of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). A
respected member of the Asian American Bar Association of New York, Justice Serita
recently helped found the Asian American Judges Association of New York (AAJANY).
She is also a member of the statewide Criminal Jury Instructions Committee, the NYS
Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts and the National Association of Women
Judges (NAWJ). Justice Serita was selected as one of ten Japanese-American leaders
from the U.S. to be part of the 2014 Japanese-American Leadership Delegation (JALD),
sponsored by the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
The Summer Reception will also recognize three outstanding law student recipients of
the Fund’s scholarship program: Henna Kaushal, Corinne Merdegia & Nishat Bella
Tabassum. Over 50 law students have received stipends from the Fund since the
program was initiated in 1997.
Henna Kaushal, whose immigrant father came to America from India seeking political
asylum from religious persecution, states in her essay: “my Sikh faith instilled in me a
deep commitment to community (sangat) and service (seva) and relentless optimism in
the face of adversity (chardi kala). Henna is interning at New York Civil Liberties Union.
After she graduates from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, she
intends to pursue her goals “as a public interest lawyer”.
Corinne Merdegia shares her Filipino parents’ commitment to enable “Asian immigrant
families seeking to fulfill their American dreams”. Corinne is interning at the Legal Aid
Society’s Immigration Law Court. After she graduates from the Sandra Day O’Connor
College of Law at Arizona State University, she intends to return to New York City and
use her experience in immigration practice “to serve the needs of New York’s diverse
immigrant community and protect the interests of Asian American families that call new
York City their home.”
Nishat Bella Tabassum is the 2018 AALFNY-SABANY (South Asian Bar Association
of New York) Public Interest Fellowship. She interning at the Kings County District
Attorney’s Office. After graduating from the City University of New York School of Law,
she looks forward to finding work in a law enforcement office.
About the Asian American Law Fund of New York
The Fund (originally the “AABANY Foundation”) was founded in 1993 by leading
members of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY). One of the
early projects funded by the Fund was the Asian Crime Victims Project. The Fund
promotes projects and programs to inform the public on issues of concern to Asian
Americans, to eliminate prejudice and discrimination and promote understanding among
and between different ethnic groups, and to encourage better community understanding
of government and legal processes. The Fund is currently working with the Asian
American Bar Association of New York to support the AABANY Pro Bono Legal Advice
Clinic. It has also funded outreach & other legal service-related programs for the New
York Asian Women’s Center, Advocates for Children of New York, Coalition for Asian
American Children & Families and the MinKwon Center for Community Action.