AABANY Hosts Private Viewing of “Photographic Justice: A Tribute to Corky Lee”

On Thursday, May 19, 2022, AABANY board members, committee chairs and invitees attended a private viewing of “Photographic Justice: A Tribute to Corky Lee.” The event was well-attended by numerous EDNY judges, community members and elected officials.

“Photographic Justice” pays homage to the life and work of renowned New York City-based photographer Corky Lee, who documented the Asian American movement through the last five decades. The group photography exhibit features a selection of Lee’s works along with that of other Asian American photographers. The term “photographic justice” has been used by Lee to describe his mission to rectify the exclusion of Asian Americans in America’s visual history.


Lee’s last project was to chronicle the effort to combat anti-Asian violence before his passing from COVID-19 in 2021.

A long-time friend of AABANY, Lee was the photographer for AABANY’s Annual Dinner for many years. In 2017, AABANY co-sponsored a photo exhibit by Corky Lee in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. At the event, Lee discussed his experiences as a photojournalist over the years as and his role as the self-proclaimed “Undisputed Unofficial Asian American Photographer Laureate.”

AABANY President William Ng, in his remarks during the reception, read the dedication to Corky from AABANY’s Anti-Asian Hate and Violence Report: “Corky Lee personified the Asian-American movement, and AABANY honors his memory by carrying on his work to combat indifference, injustice and discrimination against Asian Americans.”

This exhibit is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM through November 20, at Hon. Charles P. Sifton Gallery of the United States Courthouse for the Eastern District of New York (225 Cadman Plaza East).

Thanks to AABANY board member Chris Kwok for his instrumental role in organizing and making this VIP reception possible.

AABANY Attends Very Big Very Asian Comedy Festival to Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month

On Friday, May 13, 2022, AABANY members celebrated AAPI Heritage Month with a night of laughs at the Very Big Very Asian Comedy Festival at the Broadway Comedy Club on West 53rd Street. Over twenty AABANY members and friends enjoyed a hilarious and wildly entertaining lineup of standup comedians of Asian descent. And the verdict was unanimous: the jokes were in fact “Very Big” and “Very Asian.” Big shoutout to the evening’s host, Vince Chang @vincechang21 for keeping things moving along at a lively pace. Vince Chang should not be confused with AABANY President Vince Chang (2007) who is now the President of NYCLA. Not to say that AABANY Vince Chang is not a funny guy … but standup Vince Chang is much funnier.

After Broadway Comedy Club, folks enjoyed a second round of drinks and networking at @iguananyc

Shoutout to @livingwithchriss and her team for putting together a great show AND giving AABANY our own private tables. And great job by the Membership, Student Outreach & Young Lawyers Committees for organizing a great outing for AABANY. Make sure to sign up for upcoming AABANY events at aabany.org/events.

AABANY Hosts its Annual Judges’ Reception on May 25 in Celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, the Asian American Bar Association of New York’s Judiciary Committee hosted its annual Judges’ Reception on Zoom. The reception honored newly inducted, elevated and retiring judges in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. 

Will Wang, Co-Chair of the Judiciary Committee, served as Master of Ceremonies and welcomed the judges and the attendees to the virtual reception. Last year’s event did not happen, due to COVID-19, and we were pleased to be able to host judges and attendees virtually via Zoom this year.

The following elevated judges were honored:

Hon. Shahabuddeen Ally, Supervising Judge, New York City Civil Court, New York County

Hon. Katheryn S. Paek, New York City Criminal Court, New York County

The following newly elected judges were honored:

Hon. Wyatt Gibbons, New York Supreme Court, Queens County

Hon. Philip T. Hom, New York Supreme Court, Queens County

Hon. Leigh K. Cheng, New York City Civil Court, Queens County

Hon. Hyun Chin Kim, County Court, Orange County

Hon. E. Grace Park, New York City Civil Court, New York County

Hon. Meredith Vacca, County Court, Monroe County 

Hon. John Z. Wang, New York City Civil Court, New York County

The following newly appointed judges were honored:

Hon. James R. Cho, United States Magistrate Judge, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York

Hon. Diane Gujarati, United States District Judge, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York

The reception also recognized and honored two judges who had retired from the bench:

Hon. Peter Tom, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department

Hon. Doris Ling-Cohan, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Term, First Department

The honorees recognized at the event are trailblazers for Asian Americans in the judiciary. Of Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians, Asians remain the least represented group in positions within the judiciary. Although Asians make up around 6% of the United States population, in 2020, they comprised less than 3% of federal judges. In the state of New York, although Asians make up 9% of the population, Asians represent a mere 2% of state judges. That number raises even more concern when we consider that Asians account for some 14% of the population in New York City, and Manhattan’s Chinatown is literally right around the corner from State and Federal courthouses. In light of current events and the rise in anti-Asian violence, AAPI representation on the bench is more important than ever. AABANY thanks the honorees for their pioneering example.

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, the Judiciary Committee also held a short trivia game where participants would answer questions about the history of Asian American Pacific Islanders in the United States. Questions included: What was the purpose of the Chinese Exclusion Act? Which President signed the joint resolution commemorating APA Heritage Month? What was the reason for boycotting Miss Saigon on Broadway? The winners, who each answered nine out of the ten questions correctly, were Joseb Gim, AABANY Prosecutors’ Committee Co-Chair; L. Austin D’Souza, AABANY Judiciary Committee member and SABANY President-Elect; and the Hon. Doris Ling-Cohan, an AABANY Founding Board Member and the AABANY Trailblazer Award honoree from the 2020 Fall Conference. The winners received buttons which had been created to raise funds for AABANY’s Pro Bono Clinic, inscribed with the words “One Humanity against the Virus.”

Congratulations to all the judges who were recognized and honored at this year’s Judges’ Reception, and thanks to everyone who joined us for this event. 

To learn more about AABANY’s Judiciary Committee and its work, click here.

AABANY Hosts Fundraising Event on May 21 to Support Welcome to Chinatown’s Longevity Fund

On May 21, in observance of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, AABANY’s Legal Referral and Information Service (LRIS) hosted an event titled “A Brief History of Anti-Asian Racism in America and Call to Action” to raise funds for Welcome to Chinatown’s Longevity Fund. Welcome to Chinatown is a grassroots initiative working to preserve New York City’s Chinatown by supporting small businesses and amplifying community voices. In 2020, they launched The Longevity Fund, a small business relief program, to support small businesses where cultural and socioeconomic barriers have prevented them from applying for assistance programs.

The first part of the fundraising event consisted of a presentation from Chris Kwok, AABANY Board Director, Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair, and Issues Committee Chair, on the history of anti-Asian racism in America. He provided an overview of the history of sinophobia and anti-Asian violence in the United States, highlighting the passage of laws including the Naturalization Act of 1790, the Page Act of 1875, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Chris also shared the common themes of how Asian Americans have been perceived throughout history and are still seen today as “forever foreign.”

The presentation was followed by an informal Q&A session between Moderator Tiffany Miao, and William Ng, AABANY President-Elect and LRIS Panel Member, on the importance of AAPI representation in the legal profession and how AAPI lawyers can play a role in preserving Asian cultures and communities for future generations. After listening to Chris’ presentation, William spoke about how the history of sinophobia in the U.S. was never taught in school and how it is important to push towards adding it to school curriculums. Chris added that it’s critical for individuals to understand how race works with Asian Americans—although there’s similarity with how African Americans and Jews experience race, there are still differences and nuances. As for how AAPI lawyers can support AAPI communities, William stated, “While it’s a good career opportunity to do meaningful work, this time in particular, Asian Americans have an opportunity to do more, push certain initiatives.” In addition to representing Asian American clients at work, AAPI lawyers can donate to organizations such as Welcome to Chinatown, and join AABANY’s LRIS to provide legal assistance to the Asian American community.

To join AABANY’s LRIS, please email joinlris@aabany.org for an application. To learn more about Welcome to Chinatown, please visit welcometochinatown.com and check out their Instagram account @welcome.to.chinatown

At the conclusion of the fundraiser, AABANY was able to raise $2000 for The Longevity Fund. Thank you to everyone who joined us for the event, and thanks especially to all the donors for their support.

AABANY Co-Sponsors New York County Lawyers Association’s AAPI Heritage Month Celebration on June 2

On June 2, 2021, AABANY co-sponsored New York County Lawyers Association’s (NYCLA’s) AAPI Heritage Month Celebration. The event was hosted by NYCLA’s Asian Practice Committee which AABANY Board Member Margaret Ling co-chairs. Congresswoman Grace Meng was awarded the 2021 NYCLA AAPI Trailblazer Award for all of her civic duty to the AAPI Community. In her keynote speech, she stressed how important it was for all of us to continue to work together and educate others about anti-Asian hate and racism. Attendees applauded the Congresswoman for her dedication and hard work in co-authoring the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act and securing its passage. Those in attendance also applauded the installation of Vincent Chang, the first AAPI President of NYCLA. He vowed to continue to uphold NYCLA’s focus on sustaining the rule of law including the importance of practicing diversity, equity and inclusion in furtherance of fairness and justice for all.

Congratulations to Congresswoman Meng on her award, and we wish Vince much success during his tenure as NYCLA President.

AAPI Judges from the Eastern District of New York Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month

On May 25, the Asian American Judges of the Eastern District of New York celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a presentation titled “Photographic Justice: The Retelling of Asian American History in the United States.” Through the photography of Corky Lee, the presentation chronicled Asian Americans’ involvement in U.S. history, which has mostly been omitted from American history books.

The presentation began with a retelling of the Golden Spike ceremony in 1869 that celebrated the completion of the transcontinental railroad. While the majority of the railroad construction workforce was comprised of Chinese immigrants, the photograph taken to commemorate the railroad completion did not include any of the Chinese workers. At the 100-year anniversary of the ceremony in 1969, speakers still ignored the contribution of the Chinese workers. Corky Lee, a renowned photographer, believed in photographic justice and in 2014, he gathered the descendants of the Chinese workers to reenact the Golden Spike ceremony photograph. He said, “Some people would say we are reclaiming Chinese American history. In actuality, we’re reclaiming American history and the Chinese contribution is part and parcel of that.”

The presentation continued by recognizing the contributions of Asian Americans to the American war effort during World War 2, many of whom fought on battlefields overseas. These individuals include the decorated 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Philippine Scouts, and WASP aviators Maggie Gee and Hazel Ying Lee. The third part of the presentation focused on the numerous laws passed in U.S. history that prohibited Asians from immigrating to America such as the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the 1907 Gentlemen’s Agreement. For years, immigration and access to citizenship was based on race. That situation remained unchanged until 1965 when the Immigration and Nationality Act finally abolished national origin, race, and ancestry as basis for immigration to the U.S. This resulted in increased immigration from China, India, Japan, and the Philippines.

The final segments of the presentation focused on the Asian American Movement and how Asian Americans have come together to address racism and inequality. Addressing the anti-Asian hate and violence occurring today, the presentation concluded that “the current climate of violence against Asian Americans must not stand in the way of Asian Americans being seen, being heard, and being respected in America.”

Thank you to Magistrate Judge Sanket J. Bulsara, District Judge Pam Chen, Magistrate Judge James Cho, District Judge Diane Gujarati, Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo, and District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto for the important presentation on Asian American history and for celebrating AAPI Heritage Month. To view the full presentation, click here.