AABANY Co-Sponsors Virtual Fireside Chat with Prominent Asian American Judges on January 26, 2021

On January 26, 2021, AABANY co-sponsored a virtual fireside chat hosted by the New York City Bar entitled, “Our Story: Asian American Judges Share Their Path to the Bench, and Thoughts on Diversity and of the Future.” Prominent speakers included:

  • Hon. Shahabudeen Ally, Supervising Judge, New York County Civil Court;
  • Hon. Jeffrey K. Oing, New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department and AABANY member;
  • Hon. Ushir Pandit-Durant, New York State Supreme Court, Queens County; and
  • Hon. Lillian Wan, New York State Supreme Court, Kings County and AABANY member.

Serving as moderator, Judge Ally led the discussion on each jurist’s path to the bench, challenges faced in their paths regarding issues of diversity and inclusion, and their thoughts on the inclusion of more Asian Americans in the future of the court system. 

For Justices Oing, Pandit-Durant, and Wan, they did not anticipate becoming jurists when they were in law school. Justice Pandit-Durant had previously served at the Queens Assistant District Attorneys Office for over 20 years, and Justice Wan had been a litigator at the Administration for Children’s Services for 9 years and later as a court attorney referee at Surrogates Court. They became interested in joining the bench after their experiences of appearing before judges everyday and learning more about the judicial appointment process. Speaking about the path to the bench, the speakers emphasized the importance of getting outside their own comfort zone and attending events to get their names out there. You want people to recognize you as someone who would be able to do the job, said Justice Pandit-Durant. “They’re not going to know you until they want to know you.”

Speaking on diversity in the court system, the speakers agreed that compared to the past, we are moving in the right direction. There are now many more women and diverse women on the bench. In the state of New York, there are currently 39 judges of Asian American descent. Justice Wan said, “There is more respect and acceptance of the outcome if we have a bench that looks like the community they serve. Diversity matters.”

In the final segment of the fireside chat, Judge Ally asked the speakers: “What can we do as a population to engage the next generation?” Justice Wan spoke about the importance of mentorships. Many people do not realize that practically anyone with the right qualifications can become a judge, and it is necessary for mentors to help demystify the process. Speakers also discussed how students can be inspired by looking at the diversity of the bench and the progress that has already been made. The jurists praised the 80+ audience members for joining their chat and asking great questions, and concluded with the hope that the number of judges of Asian American descent in New York will continue to increase.

AABANY’s Judiciary Committee has a mission to do just that: increase the number of judges of Asian American and Pacific Islander descent in New York. To learn more about the Judiciary Committee, read this blog post about the March 19 membership mixer featuring that Committee or visit this page on the AABANY website.

AABANY Hosts Weekly Membership Mixer Featuring the Judiciary Committee on March 19

On March 19, 2021, the Membership Committee hosted their weekly virtual Membership Mixer, with 25 participants in attendance. This week, we co-hosted the mixer with the Judiciary Committee. The icebreaker question was: “Who is your favorite judge, whether it be from television, judges you have appeared in front of, or judges you studied in law school?” Participants answered their favorite judges were Denny Chin, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Thurgood Marshall, Judge Judy, Tara Collins, Norma Ruiz,  LaShann DeArcy Hall, Pamela Chen, Sandra Day O’Connor, Lewis Pollack, Learned Hand, and Anthony Cannataro. 

The co-chairs of the Judiciary Committee told members their role at AABANY, and their wish to help more Asian lawyers become judges.  Members also heard from Honorable Lillian Wan and Honorable John Wang about their journey to judgeships, and how AABANY helped. We also heard from judicial candidate Christopher Chin, who is running in the primary this June. 

The Membership Committee previously hosted Monthly Mixers at bars, ballparks, stadiums, operas, etc, but due to COVID, we have moved online to offer members a weekly outlet to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections. Mixers start at 6:30pm on Friday and the main event ends at 7:30pm but many often stay on after 7:30pm for smaller breakout groups.

Membership Committee will continue to host weekly virtual mixers until it is safe to gather together again in person.

Please join us this week on March 26, 2021 for a very special mixer with Founders of AABANY. Please come listen to Hon. Doris Ling Cohan, Rocky Chin, Hon. Marilyn Go and Sylvia Chin discuss how AABANY started! Register by Thursday, March 25, at https://www.aabany.org/events/event_details.asp?legacy=1&id=1468900.

Chris Kwok Testifies Before the City Council Committee on Public Safety

On March 16, Chris Kwok testified on behalf of AABANY before the City Council Committee on Public Safety in support of two changes to the NYPD Asian Hate Crimes Task Force: to fully fund the Task Force and to replace its volunteer staff with paid personnel. An AABANY Board Director and Chair of the Issues Committee, Chris shared that AABANY was the first to publicly voice these recommendations in its report on anti-Asian violence. The report recounts numerous instances of assault and harassment against Asian Americans in New York over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Chris highlighted the persistence of such racially fueled attacks to this day. Chris also noted that media outlets, community leaders, and politicians have since backed AABANY’s proposals to fully fund and formally staff the Task Force. Among these supporters, Chris identified the inspector of the Task Force itself, New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang, and all of the District 1 City Council candidates. District 1 covers Manhattan’s Chinatown among other neighborhoods and sites. In the face of unrelenting anti-Asian violence throughout the state, the statement concluded with Chris’s call for a fully funded and full-time task force to foster trust within the Asian American community and to encourage the continued reporting of anti-Asian hate crimes. To read Chris’s written statement, submitted with his testimony, click here. AABANY gratefully acknowledges Student Leader Taiyee Chien for his assistance in drafting the statement.

NAPABA Congratulates Katherine Tai on Confirmation as U.S. Trade Representative

For Immediate Release: Date: March 18, 2021

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) celebrates Katherine Tai’s confirmation to be U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in the Biden-Harris administration. Tai is the first Asian American woman and woman of color to lead the agency.

“We congratulate Katherine Tai on her historic confirmation today,” said A.B. Cruz III, president of NAPABA. “Ambassador Tai’s confirmation by a 98 to 0 vote to lead the Biden-Harris administration’s trade policy shows that she is the most qualified person for this position. We look forward to Ambassador Tai serving as a voice for our community in the Cabinet, especially in the wake of increased acts of hate against Asian Americans.”

Tai formerly served as Chief Trade Counsel and Staff Director of the Trade Subcommittee in the Ways & Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, as Chief Counsel for China Trade Enforcement in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and clerked for Judge John D. Bates, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Judge Deborah K. Chasanow, U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Tai is the first AAPI to be confirmed to serve in President Biden’s Cabinet. She was first nominated December 2020. NAPABA advocated for Ambassador Katherine Tai’s nomination. We thank President Biden and the Senate for nominating and confirming her.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of approximately 50,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network, 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. 

NAPABA Calls on Law Enforcement to Fully Investigate Georgia Shootings

For Immediate Release: Date: March 17, 2021

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON—Last night, a gunman entered multiple businesses in Atlanta and opened fire on their predominantly Asian American workforces. This horrifying act of violence left eight dead, including six Asian American women. There have now been nearly 3,800 documented attacks against Asian Americans since the start of the pandemic just over a year ago, with this incident, sadly, being the most brazen and violent.

The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)’s president A.B. Cruz III issued the following statement:

“NAPABA extends its heartfelt condolences to the family, friends, and coworkers of the eight victims. Last night’s murders are only the latest in a distressing trend that specifically targets and physically attacks Asian Americans—particularly the elderly and women. This is totally unacceptable.

While further details of this violent act are still forthcoming, it is clear, from this latest tragedy and the many before it, that the Asian American community has good reason to be acutely concerned. Therefore, we specifically call on federal and local state law enforcement to aggressively investigate and prosecute these unconscionable killings to the fullest extent, including unearthing and evaluating all evidence supporting that these murders were racially motivated.

NAPABA is working closely with its Affiliate, the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association on this matter. We are fully committed to providing the necessary resources to the victims and their families to ensure justice ultimately prevails, and our community and our allies may heal and transcend this atrocity.”

NAPABA’s hate crimes resources, including providing pro bono legal assistance, can be found here. NAPABA’s Stand Against Hate campaign, denouncing racism can be found here. NAPABA and its affiliates’ past statements on anti-Asian hate can be found here.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of over 50,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network, 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.

AABANY Issues Statement on Atlanta Shootings

The Asian American Bar Association of New York expresses its pain and sorrow at this latest act of violence in Atlanta involving shootings of members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. We extend condolences to the families of the victims in these shootings. In this time of increased violence and harassment against the AAPI community, we commend the quick apprehension of the suspect. We urge law enforcement officials to conduct a full investigation, working with community organizations Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association (GAPABA) that will be able to offer culturally and historically guided assistance in how hate crimes impact and affect AAPI communities.

Fireside Chat – Thursday, March 18 at 6:30 pm

From the Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo:

We are proud to present the next Fireside Chat as part of a series of discussions produced in partnership with the New York State COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Taskforce.

We would appreciate your help in spreading the word – please invite your networks to attend the event through email, or by posting the event information on social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Participants can view the program at ny.gov/VETF.

We encourage you to submit questions for the speakers in advance by emailing COVID19VaccineEquity@health.ny.gov, and we will also be taking live questions from attendees. We will do our best to pose as many questions to our panelists as possible. You may also choose to register for this event (not required), as a means of adding the event to your calendar and for reminders, at the link here: https://covid-19-vaccines-lgbt-community-staying-informed.eventbrite.com

Thank you all and let’s #VaccinateNY!

Please refer any questions to Emily Stetson, Special Assistant for Intergovernmental Affairs, by email at Emily.Stetson@exec.ny.gov or by phone at (518) 956-2617.

Todd Kim Nominated Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources at the U.S. Department of Justice

For Immediate Release: Date: March 15, 2021

Contact: Priya Purandare, Executive Director

WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden nominated Todd Kim as Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources at the U.S. Department of Justice. If confirmed, Kim will be the first AAPI to lead this division.

“NAPABA offers its sincerest congratulations to Todd Kim on his nomination to lead the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice,” said A.B. Cruz III, president of NAPABA. “Todd is a talented and accomplished attorney who has extensive litigation experience of high-profile matters of national significance, including winning appeals with the U.S. Supreme Court and across appellate and state supreme courts. NAPABA applauds the Biden-Harris administration on their commitment to diversity with the nomination of Todd, and urges the Senate to confirm him as Assistant Attorney General.”

Todd Kim currently serves as the Deputy General Counsel for Litigation, Regulation, and Enforcement at the U.S. Department of Energy, and previously served as the first Solicitor General of the District of Columbia, and as an appellate attorney with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Kim was a partner at Reed Smith and clerked for Judge Judith Rogers of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  He received his A.B. with honors from Harvard College and his J.D. with honors from Harvard Law School.

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The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) represents the interests of approximately 50,000 legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local Asian Pacific American bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network, 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.

PRESS RELEASE: MENG AND HIRONO TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO COMBAT SURGE OF ANTI-ASIAN HATE CRIMES

This press release has been issued by the Offices of Congresswoman Grace Meng and Senator Mazie Hirono.

For Immediate Release: March 11, 2021

Contacts: 

  • MENG: Mark Olson, 202-819-5580
  • HIRONO: Martha Spieker, 202-365-7943

Legislation comes as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders experience wave of physical, verbal, and online attacks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (NY-06), First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Executive Board Member of CAPAC, announced their plan to reintroduce the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which seeks to address the ongoing hate and violence targeted toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) by providing greater assistance with law enforcement response to COVID-19 hate crimes and creating a position at the Department of Justice to facilitate expedited review of such cases.

Specifically, the bill would:

  1. Designate an officer or employee of the Justice Department to facilitate expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes reported to federal, state, and/or local law enforcement;
  2.  Issue guidance for state and local law enforcement agencies to:
    1. establish online reporting of hate crimes or incidents, and to have online reporting available in multiple languages;
    2.   expand culturally competent and linguistically appropriate public education campaigns, and collection of data and public reporting of hate crimes; and
  3.  Issue guidance describing best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language in describing the COVID–19 pandemic, in coordination with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the COVID–19 Health Equity Task Force and community-based organizations.

“The ongoing anti-Asian hate crimes and incidents, especially against our elderly Asian Americans, is absolutely horrific. I am honored to introduce the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act with Senator Hirono to address this disgusting pattern of hate,” said Congresswoman Meng. “Before this pandemic started, I urged everyone—including elected officials—to not blame Asian Americans for the virus. My words were not heeded. The former president and his Congressional Republican enablers trafficked racist, bigoted terms to describe COVID-19. In doing so, their language stoked people’s fears and created an atmosphere of intolerance and violence, which persists even today. Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been nearly 3,000 reported incidents of physical, verbal, and online attacks against Asian Americans. Even in my own district in Queens, New York, Asian Americans have been attacked. To combat those acts, we need DOJ to prioritize addressing these heinous acts by designating a point person for these COVID-19 related hate crimes; make it easier for victims to report crimes committed against them; and expand public education campaigns to address COVID-19 hate crimes and incidents. This must end and it is why we are working to ensure our justice system has the people and resources to effectively account for and mitigate anti-Asian hate crimes. I look forward to this bill becoming law.”

“We’ve seen the horrifying consequences of racist language as AAPI communities across our country experience hate crimes and violence related to the pandemic,” said Senator Hirono. “The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act addresses the surge in violence against AAPI communities by dedicating an official at the Department of Justice to expeditiously review hate crimes reported to law enforcement. The bill also provides resources for communities to come together and fight intolerance and hate. This is no less than victims deserve.”

“We are grateful for Senator Hirono and Representative Meng’s leadership in responding to the increased attacks on Asian Americans during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “We need improvements in the reporting and handling of COVID-19-related hate crimes by law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as making systems more accessible for people with limited proficiency in English. We appreciate the emphasis on linguistically appropriate and culturally competent engagement on data collection and reporting. Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC is committed to countering hate in all its forms, and we will to continue to push for a comprehensive approach to documenting and addressing hate crimes and prioritizing health and safety for all.”

“NAPABA applauds Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Meng for their decisive action to introduce legislation responding to the rise in anti-Asian hate incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said. A.B. Cruz, III, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). “NAPABA is committed to ensuring that hate crimes against the Asian American community are properly investigated and prosecuted. The expedited review of hate crimes reported to federal, state, and local law enforcement by the Department of Justice will increase accountability in addressing hate against our community, and establishing a platform for online reporting of hate crimes and incidents in multiple languages will allow more victims to come forward.”

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In the News: AABANY and Paul, Weiss’ Report on Anti-Asian Violence Cited in The Guardian and Madison.com

AABANY and Paul, Weiss’ report on anti-Asian violence was recently mentioned in a March 1, 2021 article on The Guardian about TurboVax, a bot created by Huge Ma to help New Yorkers across the state locate available COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Over the February 27 weekend, Huge Ma temporarily suspended TurboVax to protest the hate crimes against Asian Americans. In the article, The Guardian cited AABANY’s report on the surge of incidents of anti-Asian hate and violence. To read the full article, click here.

Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director and Co-Executive Editor of the report, was interviewed in a madison.com segment titled “Anti-Asian attacks on the rise” on February 23, 2021. He encouraged Asian Americans who have experienced anti-Asian discrimination or harassment to report and discuss what happened, rather than let it go unreported.

Please also take a look at previous blog posts from February 19, March 1, and March 8 highlighting news stories about our report. If you have come across a news report or article about our report that is not listed above, please let us know at main@aabany.org.

More public awareness about our report and the rise in anti-Asian violence is needed. Please share our report widely. If you have ideas or thoughts about how we can combat anti-Asian violence, please share them with us at main@aabany.org.