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 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.

AABANY Solo and Small Firm Practice Committee Presents Webinar on Standards of Civility in the Courtroom

On May 28, 2020, the Solo and Small Firm Practice Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) hosted a panel–“How to Woo Clients, Wow Judges, and Win Cases”–discussing professional conduct and standards of civility in the courtroom. The panel was also co-sponsored by the Litigation Committee and Judiciary Committee of AABANY.

The event, moderated by Bart Wu, Chair of the Solo and Small Firm Practice Committee of AABANY, featured panelists: Hon. Tanya R. Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice in New York County; Hon. Lizette L. Colon, Acting Supreme Court Justice in Kings County; and Hon. John Wang, a Housing Court Judge who is a fellow member of AABANY and currently running for Civil Court in District 1.

All panelists emphasized the importance of enforcing civil behavior in the courtroom. Judge Kennedy noted that engaging in civility allows litigators to work towards an effective resolution of the case and weed out unnecessary conduct that frustrates the case. Judge Wang added that standards of civility lift up the bar and the bench, and they help counteract negative perceptions that the public has about members of the bar–for example, that some attorneys are uncooperative.

Judge Colon warned panelists that when litigators engage in disrespectful behavior, they get a reputation for being rude and lackluster, not just to the judge, but also to the staff. Similarly, using condescending language, especially targeting an individual’s identity (for example, referring to a female court attorney as “young lady”), is unacceptable. Judge Wang also observed that courtrooms are now virtual due to COVID-19, and attorneys have difficulty adjusting to the new professional setting. They often sigh very loudly and make inappropriate facial expressions, and forget that they are still in a courtroom.

The judges advised attorneys, especially those who are inexperienced or younger, to study their case very well, research the judge and what they expect (such as reviewing the judge’s individual practice rules), and respect the authority of the court. Judge Colon suggested that attorneys get a summary sheet and review the basics of the case: what discovery is outstanding, if there are any motions, what the injuries or claims are, and what the policy is. Judge Kennedy encouraged panelists to ask their colleagues about what the judge is like in order to better understand the expectations of the judge. Judge Wang urged both seasoned and newer attorneys to respect humility and to not undermine the court’s authority by challenging the judge’s ruling in an unprofessional or inappropriate manner.

We thank the judges for their insightful comments and time, and Bart Wu and the Solo and Small Firm Practice Committee for organizing this event. This event fulfilled one hour of CLE credit in Ethics and Professionalism. For more information on the Committee, please see https://www.aabany.org/page/111.

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/