AABANY Members: Pro Bono Opportunity – Help Close Civil Justice Gap through New York State Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP)

AABANY encourages its members to become involved in the New York State Attorney Emeritus Program (AEP) this year. The AEP is an initiative of the New York State Unified Court System to promote pro bono civil legal service by senior attorneys. AEP, endorsed by Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson, presents a substantive opportunity for AABANY members to give back and look out for its New York community.

AABANY recognizes the importance of pro bono legal services to ensure fairness in our courts and assist individuals who cannot afford lawyers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New York’s civil justice gap has grown significantly, leading to increased demand for civil legal services in areas such as housing, consumer debt, unemployment benefits, and family law. Through the AEP, senior attorneys who volunteer will provide vital access to justice for New Yorkers facing essential life challenges. 

To volunteer, AEP seeks lawyers aged fifty-five or older, retired or still in practice, in good standing, and with ten years experience. Attorney Emeritus volunteers commit to performing 60 hours of pro bono work with an approved legal services organization or court program over the two-year attorney registration period. 

Attorney Emeritus volunteers also receive benefits including up to 15 CLE credits and special recognition from Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson and Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson.

More information on the AEP or to volunteer, it can be found at https://feerickcenterfordham.galaxydigital.com/

Asian American Judges Association of New York (AAJANY) Statement Raising Concern about Newly Proposed Program Bill

March 30, 2023 – On behalf of the Asian American Judges Association of New York (AAJANY), we would first like to congratulate the seven candidates who have been nominated to fill the Chief Judge vacancy on the New York State Court of Appeals. Our state’s highest court is a Court for the people, inclusive of every race, ethnicity, gender, religion and more. Likewise, the process of selecting the six Associate Judges and Chief Judge that make up this Court must be thorough and all-inclusive. We wish to emphasize the importance of a fair and thoughtful selection process for any future Associate Judge appointment and express concern over the newly proposed Program Bill.


There has never been an Asian American judge on the Court of Appeals. To date, there have only been five Asian American judges on the Appellate Division, and only in the First and Second Departments. Since 1979, the Commission on Judicial Nomination has published 37 nomination lists for appointment to the Court of Appeals. An Asian American candidate did not appear on a list until the 25th vacancy in 2012. In the entire history of the Commission on Judicial Nomination, an Asian American has only appeared on the list on five occasions.


Jeh Johnson’s report on Equal Justice in the New York State Courts, dated October 1, 2020, highlighted the significant deficiencies in the representation and promotion of Asian American and Latino judges. There are no Asian American or Latino American candidates on the Commission’s current list for the Chief Judge vacancy. On Monday, March 27, 2023, new legislation was proposed which would significantly modify the well-established procedure for filling an Associate Judge vacancy on the Court of Appeals. Were the Governor to select a sitting Associate Judge from the Court of Appeals as the next Chief Judge, and then select from this same list of nominees to fill that vacancy, there will be no opportunity for the Governor to consider an Asian American for the Associate Judge position. In fact, there will be no opportunity for the Governor to consider any candidate of color. Diversity of candidates is paramount in the selection process of an Associate Judge to our highest court, and so we call for that process to be complete, fair, and inclusive of all.

In the News: President William Ng’s Op-Ed in Support of the Hon. Jeffrey K. Oing Published in the New York Law Journal

On December 15, the New York Law Journal published an op-ed titled, “Jeffrey K. Oing: The Chief Judge All New Yorkers Need Now,” written by President William Ng. The op-ed states in relevant part:

​​A New Yorker with over thirty years of legal and administrative experience, the majority of which has been in public service, Justice Oing stands out as the candidate with the most experience in all three branches of government — judicial, legislative, and executive.

This breadth of experience makes Oing the ideal judge to help make government work better for all New Yorkers.  Indeed, before his illustrious career on the bench, Oing served as Deputy General Counsel to the New York City Council and worked on issues such as re-districting under the Voting Rights Act. 

Earlier in his career, Oing provided legal and policy advice to the New Jersey State Governor and cabinet members on various pending legislation concerning constitutional law, civil justice, consumer affairs and employee relations. 

If Oing is nominated, Hochul will have full confidence that she is selecting an experienced judge who understands well how government works and who has dedicated his professional career to public service and delivering justice.

The op-ed concludes with the statement that New York has never had a judge of Asian American and Pacific Islander descent sitting on its highest court, and Governor Hochul would not only be appointing a highly qualified jurist to serve as Chief Judge, she would also be making history and adding much needed diversity to the state’s highest court.

To read the full op-ed, click here (subscription required).

We expect Gov. Hochul to announce her decision by Dec. 23, and AABANY continues to urge the Governor to nominate Justice Oing to be Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals.

AABANY Joined by NAPABA and Several New York Bar Associations call on Gov. Hochul to Reject the New York City Bar Association’s Rating of Hon. Jeffrey K. Oing

On December 16, AABANY sent a letter to Governor Hochul calling on her to reject the New York City Bar Association’s “not well qualified” rating of Hon. Jeffrey K. Oing. AABANY was joined on the letter by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the following New York bar associations:

  • Defense Association of New York
  • Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York
  • Jewish Lawyers Guild
  • Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York
  • New York State Trial Lawyers Association
  • Puerto Rican Bar Association
  • South Asian Bar Association of New York

The letter can be found here.

The Women’s Trial Lawyers Caucus separately sent a letter to the Governor indicating its support for both Justice Oing and the call to reject the “not well qualified rating.”

All signatories were unanimous in calling on the Governor to reject the bizarre outlier rating given by the New York City Bar Association, with reference to the New York Law Journal article (subscription required) from Dec. 14 about the controversial and unusual rating.

AABANY stands by its statement released on December 12 endorsing Justice Oing as the most highly qualified candidate for the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals and continues to urge the Governor to nominate him as Chief Judge.

Commission on Judicial Nomination is Seeking Applications for Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals and State of New York

July 29, 2022

Contact: Henry M. Greenberg, Counsel

Phone: (518) 689-1492

e-mail: [email protected]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Yesterday, the Commission on Judicial Nomination was formally notified by the Clerk of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York of the coming vacancy on the Court created by the resignation of Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, effective August 31, 2022.  Accordingly, the Commission is taking up the task of seeking recommendations and applications of persons who may be qualified to serve as Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, as well as Chief Judge of the State of New York. 

Candidates for Chief Judge DiFiore’s vacancy may download an application from the Commission’s website (www.nysegov.com/cjn) or contact the Commission’s Counsel, Henry M. Greenberg, c/o Greenberg Traurig, LLP, 54 State Street, 6th Floor, Albany, New York 12208 [Tel.: (518) 689-1492; e-mail: [email protected]; Fax: (518) 689-1499].  Applications may be filed electronically by e-mailing them to [email protected] or submitted by mail to the Commission’s Counsel.  Applications must be submitted to the Commission no later than August 29, 2022.

The Commission was created by Article 6, § 2 of the New York State Constitution.  Consistent with its mandate, the Commission is entrusted with responsibility for evaluating, and then recommending to the Governor, candidates to fill vacancies on the Court of Appeals.  The Commission vigorously seeks out, carefully evaluates and then shall nominate to the Governor seven well-qualified candidates for the office of Chief Judge from the extraordinary, diverse community of lawyers admitted to practice in New York State for at least ten years.  The Governor’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the New York State Senate.

To fill past judicial vacancies on the Court, the Commission has nominated to the Governor a wide variety of lawyers, including private practitioners, public interest attorneys, law professors, government officials and sitting Federal and State judges. While prospective candidates must file an application with the Commission, recommendations may be made by anyone who believes that a prospective candidate could be an excellent Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals and the State of New York.  Recommendations of qualified candidates for a vacancy are encouraged and may be made to the Commission’s Counsel.  

If any person or organization wishes to receive copies of future Commission press releases, please provide an e-mail or mailing address to the Commission’s Counsel.  The Commission will register the address and make every effort to distribute future press releases in the designated manner.  Persons interested in learning more about the Commission are encouraged to visit its website: www.nysegov.com/cjn.

New York State Courts Press Release: Update on Virtual Courts

A week ago, there was a statewide rollout of virtual court operations via Skype and teleconferencing for essential and emergency proceedings amid the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 13, 2020, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore and Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks announced that this temporary “virtual court” model is being expanded beyond the limited category of essential and emergency matters.

Over the past two weeks, the New York State Courts’ trial court efforts have centered on arraignments, bail applications, orders of protection and other essential and emergency criminal, family and civil matters. Following a successful transition to a virtual court system for the handling of essential and emergency matters statewide, the court system is extending its focus to include pending tort, asbestos, commercial, matrimonial, trusts and estates, felony, family and other cases, which make up the vast bulk of trial court caseloads. The existing ban on the filing of new “non-essential” matters will remain in effect.

For more information, please visit: https://www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/press/PDFs/PR20_15virtualcourtstortsetc.pdf

AABANY Hosts Breakfast Meeting with Chief Judge Srinivasan for Law Students

On Thursday, February 27, AABANY hosted a breakfast event for law students with Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan, U.S. Circuit Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals, at The Smith in NoMad. Judge Srinivasan was in town for AABANY’s 2020 Annual Dinner where he was presented the Public Service Leadership Award, and the judge was gracious enough to take the time the next morning to advise students pursuing careers in law. Judge Srinivasan familiarized students with his many life experiences by speaking about his upbringing, education, and career. Everything from his judicial philosophy to his love of sports provided attendees with important nuggets of wisdom and essential insights. 

Judge Srinivasan elaborated extensively on the three guiding principles that have shaped his life and his service: doing great work, being a good person, and assuming the best of those around you. 

For his first tenet, Judge Srinivasan addressed the familial and social pressures that are widely prevalent in the Asian-American community, acknowledging the constant push to “climb the ladder” and focus heavily on quantifiable success. However, despite this pressure, he insists that the goal of students shouldn’t be to chase after the most lucrative opportunities to bolster a resume, but instead, students should strive to give their best and humble effort to everything that they do, no matter how small or invisible. Such persistence will pay off and be recognized in the long-run. 

Regarding his second principle, the judge drew heavily from his own experiences with people in the legal field. He insisted that acting transparently in good-faith and modeling kind behavior will in turn make people feel heard which increases the likelihood of reaching mutually beneficial agreements. Judge Srinivasan remarked on how surprised he has been in the past by the benefits of simply listening to others. His way of approaching interacting with other people has influenced those around him, garnering the respect and trust of his peers. 

Finally, Judge Srinivasan insists that, despite our initial inclination to expect the worst of others, there are pleasant surprises to expecting the best of others. Especially in such a partisan environment, he insists that it is important to treat traditional “adversaries” not as ill-intentioned individuals but as normal people with differences in how they approach universal problems. By viewing other people as different rather than evil, the judge believes that compromises can be reached more quickly and effectively. 

After giving students background on his experiences and philosophy, Judge Srinivasan opened himself up for questions from the attendees. Many of the students focused particularly on how they can better represent their ethnic communities and perform optimally in the field. 

Since some of the students present are leaders of affinity groups on their respective campuses, the judge applauded the efforts of the student leaders and addressed the importance of student advocacy groups. He referenced a common saying by his sister, “it’s hard to be what you can’t see,” to reveal how these minority cultural groups give face to their community and provide the next generation with role models to look up to. While he acknowledged this responsibility to represent is daunting and can feel lonely at times, Judge Srinivasan believes that student leaders should reframe their thinking to feel excited in the face of adversity. 

Regarding how to achieve success in the field, the judge suggested looking for mentors who look out for your best interests, preparing for cases thoroughly, and embracing fluidity in argumentation. On a concluding note, Judge Srinivasan stressed the importance of establishing credibility in the forum by advocating zealously while still demonstrating objectivity. 

AABANY thanks Judge Srinivasan for his valuable time and thoughtful advice! If you are curious about the judge’s work, please feel free to click the link below as the D.C. Court of Appeals is one of the only appeals courts that livestream oral arguments on its website. Details at https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/home.nsf/Content/Oral+Arguments

Thanks to AABANY Legal Intern David Jung for the write-up and photos.

A Statement from Chief Judge Janet DiFiore on Behalf of the New York Court of Appeals (August 5, 2017)

The Court of Appeals is saddened by the death of George Bundy Smith, who served with great distinction as an Associate Judge of the Court from 1992 to 2006. A freedom rider during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, Judge Smith remained soft-spoken, self-effacing, and completely dedicated to fairness and justice for all people throughout his career. As then-Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye said of him in 2005, “George is a man of few words, but they are absolutely the right words.” He leaves our nation a better place than he found it. We will miss him deeply.

AABANY joins the entire legal community in mourning Hon. George Bundy Smith, a trailblazing attorney and jurist, for his contributions to making positive change in the legal profession and society as a whole.

Please consider supporting the Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA) Hon. George Bundy Smith Scholarship Fund. More from MBBA:

The Honorable George Bundy Smith, served on the MBBA Board and founded its original scholarship fund. Appointed by Governor Mario Cuomo, Judge Smith served on the New York State Court of Appeals from 1992 to 2006. He also served as a judge on the Civil Court of New York City from 1975-1986 and as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of New York from 1987-1992. A former law professor at Fordham Law School, Judge Smith was also a former Freedom Rider and a graduate of Yale University (B.A. 1959), where he was just one of three African Americans in his class, and Yale Law School (LL.B 1962). He also received a Ph.D from New York University and an LL.M from University of Virginia School of Law.

In 2014, The Metropolitan Black Bar Association established The Honorable George Bundy Smith Scholarship Fund to offer three scholarships to students who demonstrate qualities of leadership, a passion for the arts and sciences, or a commitment to diversity and academic excellence. The fund is in honor of Judge Smith, who for many years provided board leadership and guidance to the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, including starting the organization’s first scholarship fund. Above all, Judge Smith valued education and consistently leveraged his successes to the benefit of the African-American community.

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK SEEKING CANDIDATES FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT MENTORING PROGRAM

NOTICE TO THE BAR

CONTACT: Peter Quijano, 212-686-0666; or Anthony L. Ricco, 212-791-3919

SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK SEEKING CANDIDATES FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE ACT MENTORING PROGRAM

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York is seeking candidates for its Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Mentoring Program. Ideal candidates are attorneys with five or more years of experience litigating in state court, with fifteen felony trials to verdict as lead counsel or comparable in-court experience under their belt. Under the supervision of a member of the CJA Panel, CJA Mentees would represent defendants in federal court who qualify for appointed representation under the Criminal Justice Act.

The purpose of the CJA Mentoring Program is to diversify the composition of the CJA Panel—a roster of private attorneys who are authorized to serve as appointed defense counsel pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3006A—and to expose experienced state court practitioners to federal practice. While the mentee’s initial 15 hours of service will be done pro bono, mentees may earn a reduced rate of $65 per hour for their services after the pro bono requirement has been fulfilled.

Candidate interviews will be conducted in early June. To apply for the program, please e-mail your resume by June 4 to:

Peter Enrique Quijano
Quijano & Ennis, P.C.
[email protected]

“The CJA Mentoring Program offers attorneys a unique opportunity to expand their practice and learn from some of the top criminal defense attorneys in the nation,” said Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska. “The Court is fortunate to benefit from such an excellent program and grateful for the time and attention contributed by the mentor lawyers.”

The mentorship program is open to anyone who qualifies, and women, minorities, and persons with disabilities are particularly encouraged to apply. Participation in the mentorship program does not guarantee appointment to the CJA Panel.