On October 7, 2022, Law360 published a piece written by AABANY Member Karen King titled “Key to a 9-0 Court Win: Look for a Common Ground.” Karen argued before the Supreme Court in March 2022 in Golan v. Saada, in which the Court decided in favor of Karen’s client in an unanimous 9-0 decision. Karen is a Partner at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello, Co-Chair of AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, and an active member of AABANY’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force.
Karen has had an impressive and storied career, with accomplishments reaching back to before her time as a litigator. She was president of the debate team in high school and at Yale University, where she majored in philosophy and political science. After Yale, Karen received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and started her career at Cravath. Two decades later, Karen continues to appear in federal and state courts on behalf of corporate clients while also taking on pro bono clients, being named a “Notable Woman in Law” by Crain’s New York Business and receiving both the Federal Bar Council’s Thurgood Marshall Award for Exceptional Pro Bono Service and the National Asian Pacific Bar Association’s Pro Bono award. Her pro bono clients include victims of discrimination, survivors of domestic violence, students with learning disabilities, victims of gun violence, and prisoners in civil rights issues.
In the article, Karen writes about the strategies and steps her team undertook to prepare for arguing Golan v. Saada before the Court.
The case concerned an Italian citizen who filed a petition with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to return his child to Italy through the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. Narkis Golan, the child’s mother, petitioned the court to prevent the child’s return to Italy, as the father’s history of abuse would put the child at a risk of psychological harm. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the District Court for the Eastern District of New York agreed that the child could be required to return to Italy by finding “ameliorative measures” to prevent such harm to the child. When Karen brought the case to the Supreme Court for Golan, the issue was whether, under the Hague Convention, courts must consider all possible “ameliorative measures” which would lead to the return of a child to their country of habitual residence. The Court ruled in favor of Karen’s client, finding that courts are not obligated to find options that will enable the child’s safe return before denying return based on a risk of harm. Karen describes in her article how she and her team navigated the diverse judicial philosophies of the Court’s justices to achieve a 9-0 victory.
Karen and her team took a keen interest in the judicial philosophies and oral argument preferences of justices on the Court to draw broad support from the bench. For example, Karen argued that the Second Circuit’s requirement to consider “ameliorative measures” which would favor return was an outcome not grounded in the text of the Hague Convention—an approach smartly tailored for textualist justices. Karen also writes that this case demonstrated how oral arguments offer not just opportunities for petitioners and respondents to emphasize certain legal points, but also chances to shape the justices’ thinking on the case.
In addition to demonstrating shrewd foresight through a textualist argument, Karen also underscored the importance of children’s interests in the Hague Convention text. These approaches to Karen’s oral argument performance were reflected in the Court’s opinion, where Justice Sotomayor remanded the case back to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The justice drew upon the textualist ideas and child interest issues which Karen had brought forth during oral argument.
Karen’s article also reflected on the challenges she faced in preparing for oral argument at the Court for this case, as COVID-19 restrictions and partisan tensions reached new heights during preparations.
Lastly, Karen’s presence alongside two other Asian American litigators at oral argument before the Court places this case in Asian American legal history. The strategies Karen outlined for stellar advocacy go far beyond Golan v. Saada. As an Asian American community leader, Karen advocates for greater diversity in courtrooms and law firms, guides young litigators, and gives back to communities through pro bono work. AABANY is proud to see the inspiring work Karen King has done inside and outside of her role as a litigator, and we are excited to see how else she will continue to be a leading example for the Asian American community.
The full article can be found at: