In the News: AABANY Member Karen Lin Achieves Historical Primary Victory in the Race for Queens Civil Court Judge

On June 29, 2022, QNS published an article congratulating Karen Lin for her historical primary victory in the race for Queens Civil Court Judge. Karen Lin, an AABANY member, is the first East Asian female judge elected in Queens. 

Unofficial election results from the Board of Elections in the City of New York reflect that with over 97% of the scanners reported, Lin captured around 40% of the vote. Responding to her victory, Karen said, “It has been a long but exhilarating and inspirational day of talking with voters, and I am humbled and honored for the tremendous show of support all throughout Queens. I’m proud of the determined and focused campaign we ran and gratified for the support of my family and the community. On to the next step!”

To read the full article, click here. To learn more about Karen Lin’s profile, click here.

AABANY Member Profile: Karen Lin Runs for Queens Civil Court Judge

Karen Lin, an AABANY member since 2019, is a candidate for Judge of the Civil Court in Queens. A dedicated public servant, Karen currently serves as court attorney-referee in Kings County Surrogate’s Court. A former Committee Co-Chair for AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, she led the creation of the Queens Pro Bono Clinic in 2020 and subsequently the Remote Legal Clinic. Now, she hopes to serve her community in a new capacity by becoming the first East Asian female judge elected in Queens. 

A Lifelong New Yorker 

Karen was raised in Flushing and northeast Queens by immigrant parents and continues to call Queens home today. A student of the New York City public school system, she attended the selective Hunter College High School and later the Bronx High School of Science. She attended college at the State University of New York at Buffalo before returning to New York City to pursue her law degree at Brooklyn Law School. 

Motivated to be an advocate for everyday people, Karen began her career as a civil rights and family law attorney at a small firm. She represented families in New York City Family Court and State Supreme Court. She subsequently left for an opportunity to work in the legislative office of New York State Senator Catherine Abate of the 27th District, covering lower and midtown Manhattan. There, as District Counsel and later Chief of Staff, she advocated for constituents in neighborhoods that included Chinatown and the Garment District. The experience gave Karen new insight into the needs of New Yorkers on issues such as affordable housing, fair wages, and labor rights. 

Making the Courts Accessible to Everyone

When Senator Abate gave up her seat to run for Attorney General, Karen returned to the courtroom, this time as a court attorney. Working as a neutral arbiter refined her ability to resolve disputes, facilitate dialogue, and practice empathy. Her commitment to justice was well-recognized by her colleagues, as she was subsequently appointed judge of the New York City Housing Court. “Housing court is the last stop before you’re homeless,” Karen reflects, “[yet] the playing field is so unlevel.” She was humbled by this opportunity. Having advocated for underserved communities for decades, Karen was committed to resolving the disputes before her with full understanding from both parties. 

The bench was Karen’s dream position as a public servant. As a judge, she worked hard to ensure that each person who appeared before her had a meaningful opportunity to be heard. But with a growing family, she decided to step off the bench to care for her three young children. She returned to the courtroom in 2013 as a court attorney-referee in Surrogate’s Court, the position she continues to hold today. She assists grieving families who face difficult conversations following the loss of a loved one. Care and compassion are pillars to Karen’s work: “If you care about people, you’ll care about their problems and see people as people instead of cases to go through,” she explains.  

Changing the Air in the Room

Now that her children are older, Karen hopes to deliver justice again through the bench. She believes that “a good judge knows the law, understands and applies it. A great judge does that and cares about people.” As the daughter of immigrants, a working mother and a lifelong public servant to disadvantaged communities, Karen stresses the need for diverse judges who are attuned to their constituents’ backgrounds. In Queens, where Karen is running, Asians are among the most underrepresented groups in the judiciary. According to the Special Advisor Report on New York State Courts, around 9 percent of Queens judges are Asian although the most recent Queens census reports that Asians constitute 27 percent of the population. 

“The air in the room changes depending on who is in it,” Karen says. She hopes that her campaign will inspire other candidates from underrepresented backgrounds to run for the bench. “As lawyers, [running for the judiciary] is not on our radar…yet invisibility changes when we call it out, when there are more of us who are not silent.” As judge, she is committed to continue serving everyday families and to ensure they are treated with dignity throughout the process. 


For more information about Karen Lin’s campaign, including how you can volunteer or support her candidacy, please visit https://www.karenlin2022.com/.

AABANY Congratulates the Newly-Elected AAJANY Board

AABANY applauds Judge Shababudeen Ally and Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant’s election on February 15 as President and Vice-President of the Asian American Judges Association of New York (AAJANY). Both Judge Ally and Justice Pandit-Durant are AABANY members.

Judge Ally is a Supervising Judge of the Civil Court in New York County. He became the first Muslim male elected to New York City Civil Court in 2018 and the first South Asian Supervising Judge in 2020. Judge Ally began his legal career as a staff attorney with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. Judge Ally then went to work for the NYC Law Department as an Assistant Corporation Counsel. For a decade prior to his time on the bench, Judge Ally operated his own law practice specializing in family and criminal law.

Judge Pandit-Durant is a Justice of the Queens County Supreme Court. Judge Pandit-Durant became the first South Asian judge elected to New York State Supreme Court in Queens and the first South Asian woman judge elected in New York State in 2018. Judge Pandit-Duran began her career as a Prosecutor in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, serving there with distinction for 25 years before being elected to New York City Civil Court in 2015, becoming the first South Asian to hold that elected office.

On March 2, in an article entitled “Asian American judicial org. works to diversify bench,” the Queens Eagle wrote Asian judges are the “least represented racial or ethnic group on the bench,” making up 6 percent of Queens’s judiciary. In the Queens’s Family Court, “there is only one Asian judge and there are no Asian American judges in the Borough’s housing Court.” In comparison, “White judges account for around 66 percent, 17 percent of judges are Latino and 17 percent are Black,” according to the Office of Court Administration data cited by the Queens Eagle.

This lack of AAPI judicial representation is further exacerbated by the overall increase of Queens’s total population. Data cited by the Queens Eagle indicates that Asian Americans account for the largest population growth of 29 percent in Queens, “outpacing the borough’s overall 7.8 percent growth.”

Judge Ally told the Queens Eagle that though there is a lot of work left to be done, diversity efforts on the bench appear to be headed in the right direction. AAJANY’s board includes three other AAPI judges from Queens: Queens Civil Court Judge Changyong Li is the secretary, recently-elected Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term Judge Karen Gopee is the treasurer and Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term Judge Francis Wang is now a member of the Board of Directors. AAJANY’s Board of Directors also includes Hon. Lillian Wan, Hon. Meredith Vacca, Hon. Karen M.C. Cortes, and Hon. Shorab Ibrahim.

To read more about the AAJANY election, please click here.

Congratulations to Judge Ally, Justice Durant, and all the newly-elected Board members of AAJANY. Thank you for all you do to represent the AAPI community and to enhance diversity and inclusion on the bench.


AABANY Member Profile: Hon. John Z. Wang Runs for New York City Civil Court

https://www.instagram.com/judgewang4civilcourt/

Hon. John Z. Wang, a proud member of AABANY, has launched his own campaign to run for New York City Civil Court in the First Municipal Court District, which covers Battery Park, Chinatown, FiDi, Greenwich Village, Soho, Tribeca, and Two Bridges. An active contributor to the Judiciary Committee of AABANY, Judge Wang has organized panels on how to become an appointed and elected judge in hopes of encouraging more Asian American and Pacific Islander lawyers to pursue this path. Now, he hopes to make his community proud by becoming the first Asian American Civil Court Judge elected to the First District.

Judge Wang immigrated to the United States at five years old and grew up in a predominantly working-class Italian American neighborhood in Brooklyn. As one of very few Asian Americans in his community, he recognized the dangers of racism and bigotry and the importance of respecting other cultures and races.

The Judge has devoted his entire career to public service. After graduating from Vassar College and Brooklyn Law School, he received a six-month fellowship to work at Legal Services, where he advocated for claimants of unemployment insurance. Subsequently, he served as a court attorney in Brooklyn Family Court and the Bronx and Manhattan Civil Courts, and clerked for Hon. Anthony Cannataro, a New York State Supreme Court Justice and the Administrative Judge of the New York City Civil Court. Last year, Judge Wang was appointed as a Brooklyn Housing Court Judge. In all his years serving in New York’s courts, he has also contributed to policy-making by helping to restructure parts of the Manhattan Civil Court.

Now, Judge Wang hopes to serve as the first Asian American Civil Court Judge elected to the First Judicial District. Judge Wang views the Civil Court as the people’s court–it serves everyday people with real, working-class issues. He is moved by the stories and individuals that these small claims and credit card disputes represent, and hopes to do his part to deliver justice to everyday people.

Judge Wang also maintains a reputation for treating individuals that come before him with dignity, compassion, and fairness. As the only sitting judge in this contested race, Judge Wang understands the weight of making difficult decisions regarding people’s livelihoods.

AABANY’s Judiciary Committee vetted Judge Wang for his appointment to Housing Court in 2017 and found him highly qualified and well-suited for the role. The Committee noted that “[t]he advocates and judges that encounter Mr. Wang in the courthouse uniformly praise his intellect, work ethic and demeanor.” After more than two years on the bench, Committee Co-Chair Will Wang (no relation) observed: “It is somewhat uncommon for a relatively recent judge to have published the number of opinions Judge Wang has published. To me, this demonstrates both Judge Wang’s work ethic and overall writing ability.”

Judge Wang believes he faces a tough but winnable campaign. The COVID-19 pandemic has created serious challenges, including uncertainty in voter turnout and participation, but he hopes that his experience working in Civil Court will inspire individuals to volunteer and vote for him.

For more information on Judge Wang’s campaign, including how you can volunteer or support his candidacy, visit https://www.judgewang4civilcourt.com/ or email judgewang4civilcourt@gmail.com.

This member profile has been published for informational purposes only and does not constitute and should not be construed as a campaign endorsement.

https://www.instagram.com/judgewang4civilcourt/

AABANY Congratulates Honorable Shahabuddeen Ally on His Historic Induction

On December 20, 2018, wearing his signature bow tie, Shahabuddeen (Shah) Ally made history by being the first Muslim male and the first Indo-Caribbean to be elected to New York state court. In a packed court room at 111 Centre Street, family, friends and supporters of Shah Ally witnessed a lively, emotional and inspiring induction ceremony. This may very well have been the first judicial induction to feature South Asian drumming and dancing in the courtroom and curry at the reception.

Hon. Shahabuddeen Ally was sworn in by his wife, Hon. Alicea Elloras-Ally, as Judge of the New York City Civil Court, as their son, Ryan Elloras, and colleagues from the New York State bench and Manhattan Community Board 12 looked on with pride.

In his remarks, Judge Ally talked about his humble beginnings, which included immigrating to the United States from Guyana and growing up poor in the South Bronx, and how his induction is proof the “American Dream” is still alive and well. He thanked everyone that supported and stood by him to make his “American Dream” a reality.

The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) congratulates Hon. Shahabuddeen Ally on his induction to the Civil Court in New York County and all his well deserved success. We also thank Hon. Shahabuddeen Ally for recognizing AABANY and its Judiciary Committee at his induction.

AABANY CONGRATULATES HONORABLE PHILLIP HOM ON HIS INDUCTION TO NEW YORK CIVIL COURT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – December 15, 2017.
The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) congratulates the
Honorable Phillip Hom on his induction to the Civil Court in Queens
County.

A native New
Yorker and alumnus of SUNY Binghamton, Judge
Hom began his legal career in 1997 as an Agency Attorney for the New York City
Human Resources Administration.  At that
time, he also worked on John Liu’s campaign for New York City Council.  After John Liu’s appointment as Council
Member in 2001, Judge Hom served as his Chief of Staff.  Judge Hom was appointed Assistant Director
and Legislative Counsel for the New York City Council in 2005, serving as
Council Member Liu’s main liaison to Community Boards 7 and 11 in Queens.  After John Liu’s appointment as New York City
Comptroller, Judge Hom served as Deputy General Counsel in the Comptroller’s
Office in 2011.

Judge Hom was
active in APA matters in college and law school, and has promoted prominent APA
elected officials during his career.  Judge
Hom was involved in the campaigns of Ellen Young, the first Asian American
woman elected to the New York State Assembly, and Ron Kim, who later became the
first Korean American elected to state-wide office in New York. As a judicial
delegate in Manhattan in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Judge Hom was instrumental
in then-Civil Court Judge Doris Ling-Cohan becoming a New York County Supreme
Court Justice.  In 2014 Judge Hom joined
Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP as Special Counsel.

“AABANY is
proud to recognize Judge Hom as a longstanding advocate for the Asian Pacific American
community,” states AABANY President Dwight Yoo. “We were delighted to take part
in his induction ceremony and to have the honor of robing him after he was
sworn in by Presiding Justice Randall T. Eng. We commend Judge Hom for serving
the public interest and the community and wish him continued success in making
a positive impact as a judge in the Civil Court in Queens County.”

For more information, please contact Yang
Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (212) 332-2478, or direct any inquiries to main@aabany.org.

The Asian American Bar Association of New
York is a professional membership organization of attorneys concerned with
issues affecting the Asian Pacific American community. Incorporated in 1989,
AABANY seeks not only to encourage the professional growth of its members but also
to advocate for the Asian Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is a
New York regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
(NAPABA).

Additional information about AABANY is available at www.aabany.orgFollow our blog at www.blog.aabany.org.  Follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/aabany.  Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/aabany

ASIAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF NEW YORK APPLAUDS APPOINTMENTS OF THREE ASIAN AMERICAN JUDGES TO NEW YORK JUDICIARY

NEW YORK – March 8, 2017 – The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) applauds the appointment of three Asian American judges to the New York bench: Charles Y.J. Liu to the New York City Housing Court, Phyllis Chu to the New York City Criminal Court, and Frances Wang to the New York City Civil Court.

Judge Charles Y.J. Liu was appointed in February by Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks and is currently sitting in Housing Court in Bronx County. Mayor de Blasio appointed Judge Chu and Judge Wang, and his office announced their appointments in January.

Judge Charles Y. J. Liu previously served as a court attorney in the New York City Housing Court starting in 1997. From 1997 to 2001, he served as a pro se Court Attorney in the New York City Civil Court’s Resource Center, where he assisted self-represented litigants with all aspects of their cases. From 2001 until his appointment to the bench, Liu served as an Associate Court Attorney, assisting Housing Court judges with all aspects of case resolution, including negotiating settlements, drafting decisions, providing procedural information to litigants, and advising judges on facts and issues on matters before the Court. Before that, from 1994 until 1996, Liu advocated on behalf of clients on housing issues within the Asian American community and on behalf of low income tenants.  Judge Liu received his undergraduate degree from the State University of New York at Albany and his law degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Judge Liu is an active member of AABANY.

Judge Phyllis Chu previously worked at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office starting in 1993. After completing the rotational system that included Criminal Court, the Complaint Room, Grand Jury and Investigations, Chu began trying felony trials in the Blue Zone in 1995. Chu investigated and tried all types of felonies ranging from assaults, burglaries, rapes, robberies and drug sales. In 1998, Chu moved on to the Crimes Against Children’s Bureau where she investigated and tried physical and sexual abuse cases concerning children under the age of 11. After being promoted to Supervising Senior Assistant District Attorney in 1999, Chu began trying felony cases in the Red Zone, which included assaults, robberies, burglaries and homicides. In addition, Chu supervised younger assistants on investigation and trial strategies. In 2003, Chu was promoted to the Homicide Bureau, where she prosecuted homicide cases throughout the borough of Brooklyn. Judge Chu received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University and her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law. Judge Chu is an active member of AABANY.

Judge Frances Wang spent eight years as a prosecutor in the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office in the Criminal Court and Appeals Bureau. She subsequently served as a Principal Court Attorney in Supreme Court, Criminal Term in Bronx County. Wang received her undergraduate degree from St. John’s University and her law degree from Hofstra University School of Law. As a law student, she interned for the Hon. Marilyn D. Go, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York, who received the Impact Leadership Award at the AABANY Annual Dinner on February 22. Judge Wang was appointed to Civil Court and has been assigned to Criminal Court.

“Following on the heels of the historic election of Judge Judy Kim and the re-election of Justice Doris Ling-Cohan at the end of 2016, AABANY commends the appointments of our newest Asian American jurists in New York State court,” says Susan Shin, President of AABANY. “We are hopeful that these additions to the bench will continue to increase diversity on the bench. AABANY maintains that diversity and inclusion are vital to strengthened confidence in the justice system, and we applaud these appointments as steps in the right direction. We congratulate Judge Liu, Judge Chu and Judge Wang on their achievement and thank them for their enduring commitment and dedication to public service. We wish them all the best for a long and productive tenure on the bench.”

For more information, please contact Yang Chen, AABANY Executive Director, at (212) 332-2478, or direct any inquiries to main@aabany.org.

The Asian American Bar Association of New York is a professional membership organization of attorneys concerned with issues affecting the Asian Pacific American community. Incorporated in 1989, AABANY seeks not only to encourage the professional growth of its members but also to advocate for the Asian Pacific American community as a whole. AABANY is the New York regional affiliate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).

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Congratulations to Judy Kim

Please join AABANY in congratulating newly elected Civil Court Judge Judy Kim. See below for a statement from KALAGNY.


KALAGNY Congratulates Judy Kim on Becoming the First Korean American Elected to a Judicial Position in the State of New York

We are pleased to announce that our member Judy Kim has been elected to serve on the New York Civil Court (4th Municipal Court District).  Ms. Kim is the first Korean American elected to a judicial position in the State of New York.  Currently, Ms. Kim is an associate counsel in the Legal Division at the New York Liquidation Bureau (Liquidation Bureau). The Liquidation Bureau is a quasi-state agency that assists the Superintendent of Financial Services of the State of New York in his capacity as receiver of insolvent insurance companies. Ms. Kim also worked at Snitow Kanfer Holtzer & Millus, LLP as an attorney focusing on commercial litigation, employment discrimination litigation, and matrimonial litigation matters. Before that, Ms. Kim worked at Kennedy Lillis Schmidt & English, a boutique maritime law firm. Ms. Kim received her J.D. from Tulane Law School, and her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.  

Ms. Kim holds or has held various other non-profit board positions.  Currently, she is a board member of the Korean American League for Civic Action (KALCA), and the Judges and Lawyers Breast Cancer Alert (JALBCA).  She has been a board member of or held various leadership roles within a number of other organizations, including the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York, the Asian American Bar Association of New York, the New York City Bar Association, and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA).  Many congratulations.