On July 8, 2020, over 100 jurists of color across New York, including 13 Queens judges of color, have added their names to a statewide letter affirming their commitment to equal justice and treatment under the law. Of the 13 Queens judges, six are members of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY): Hon. Karen Gopee, Hon. Wyatt Gibbons, Hon. Phillip Hom, Hon. Dean Kusakabe, Hon. John Lansden, and Hon. Toko Serita.
Led by Syracuse City Court Judge Derrek Thomas, the group formed to address the community in light of George Floyd’s murder and the nationwide protests that followed.
The letter stated: “We reaffirm our commitment to make a positive difference within our respective courts each day and to ensure that those appearing before us are treated equally, with the respect and dignity that both the law and humanity require.”
On June 19, 2020, USA Today published an Op-Ed written by Ryan D. Budhu, a member of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) and past president of the South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY).
In the article, Budhu recounts his personal experience with police brutality, when his brother died in the custody of the NYPD. He also reflects on this tragedy in relation to the death of George Floyd, and the need for allyship between South Asian and Black communities. He writes: “I have a duty to listen to and help address inequities, especially those that affect Black lives within the circles that I occupy.”
AABANY Member and immigration attorney Tsui Yee was recently quoted in an NPR story by Alina Selyukh entitled “Will Filing For Unemployment Hurt My Green Card? Legal Immigrants Are Afraid.”
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread and leave millions of people jobless, legal immigrants working and paying taxes in the US fear that applying for unemployment might jeopardize their immigration cases. Tsui noted that even though these individuals are eligible to collect unemployment, many chose not to out of fear that doing so will somehow trigger a red flag with immigration services.
On April 1, 2020, Law 360 published an article co-authored by Immediate Past President Brian Song. The article is entitled “Responding To DOJ’s Increasing Int’l Antitrust Extraditions.”
The article discusses how the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice is increasingly using extradition to prosecute individuals alleged to have violated U.S. law. It discusses various recent cases where extradition has successfully been exercised, mainly from Italy and Germany, by the Department of Justice solely based on an antitrust charge.
The article notes that foreign nationals facing prosecution by the Antitrust Division have few choices of recourse. They include pleading guilty in exchange for the possibility for lower sentences, hunkering down in their home country and not traveling abroad, and seeking to have the charges dismissed on constitutional or statute of limitation grounds from abroad.
However, since the options available to foreign defendants are limited, and given the success of recent extraditions, foreign defendants should consider their options very carefully.
To read the full article, click on the following links:
On March 26, 2020, the New York Daily News published an op-ed co-authored by Chris Kwok. The piece is entitled “Weaponized coronavirus language is endangering Asian-American lives.” (Chris, who sits on the AABANY Board and chairs the Issues Committee, co-wrote the op-ed in his capacity as a Board member of the Asian American Federation).
The article discusses how anti-Asian rhetoric and labeling the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus” is endangering the lives of Asian Americans across the United States. It also provides historical examples of what happens when you link a disease to a particular group of people. It can easily lead to stigma and violence against that group. For example, in the 14th century, Jews were accused of spreading the Bubonic Plague in Europe and massacred. Similarly, in the 1980s to 1990s gay people were blamed for spreading AIDS and suffered violence as a result.
Furthermore, the article notes that this is not the first time Asian Americans have faced something like this in the United States. In the 1850s to 1890s, the Chinese were accused of being carriers of venereal disease and leprosy. As a result of the openly anti-Chinese rhetoric during that period, Chinese people were “…rounded up into thousands of railroad cars, steamers, or logging rafts, marched out of town, or killed.”
Now, history seems to be repeating itself as the spread of the coronavirus pandemic is falsely being attributed to Asian Americans. In recent weeks we have seen a spike in xenophobic incidents targeting Asian Americans throughout the nation. Such incidents include “…Asian Americans being beaten, slashed, kicked, spat at, sprayed with things, yelled at or ostracized in public.” To make matters worse, President Trump’s deliberate campaign to label the coronavirus as “the Chinese virus” has put Asian Americans at an even higher risk.
On January 30, 2020, AABANY Membership Director Beatrice Leong was interviewed by Reema Khrais on her podcast called “This Is Uncomfortable.” During the interview which was broadcast on NPR, Beatrice shared a very personal story about why she decided to become a divorce lawyer. After graduating from college Beatrice and her long time boyfriend, someone she had been with since the age of 16, got married and moved in together. He worked as a financial consultant, and Beatrice went to law school. However, their relationship took a turn for the worst when Beatrice uncovered his infidelity. After a long back and forth internally, she realized divorce was her only choice. Having graduated from law school, she decided to be her own advocate and joined a family law practice to learn more about divorce law. Beatrice recounted her own consultation with a divorce attorney, found it cold and unsympathetic, and believed that she would make a better matrimonial lawyer, one who understands the emotional trauma that her clients may be undergoing.
On May 23, 2019 AABANY co-sponsored a reenactment of the Supreme Court cases Takao Ozawa v. United States (1922) and United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) in the Ceremonial Courtroom at 225 Cadman Plaza, Brooklyn. The two historical cases describe the exclusionary immigration policies that prevented Asian immigrants from becoming naturalized citizens. The reenactment scripts were written by longtime AABANY members Kathy Hirata Chin and her husband, the Hon. Denny Chin. The event was jointly sponsored by the South Asian Bar Association of New York (SABANY) and was held in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, during the month of May. The event was covered by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported on the history of these reenactments, “The Chins began writing and performing these reenactments 12 years ago, and every year they create a new performance based on a different case. Judge Chin explained that they look for cases of importance historically and that still resonate today.”
On March 7, 2019, Hon. Kiyo Matsumoto, District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, participated in honoring Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the New York City Bar Association for her commitment to upholding the rule of law and for being a role model to young students all across America.
At the event, Justice Sotomayor was honored with the unveiling of her portrait that will hang in the New York City Bar’s Great Hall and presented with the New York City Bar Association Medal. The Association Medal is a very prestigious honor that has only been conferred upon a total of 25 people in the last 67 years prior to Justice Sotomayor.
The awardees are chosen by the New York City Bar’s Executive Committee acting upon the nomination of the New York City Bar’s Honors Committee. Judge Matsumoto, a long time member of AABANY, is the chair of the Honors Committee.
The event was covered by the New York Law Journal. To read the article, click here.
On January 30th, AABANY co-sponsored and celebrated New York City’s 2nd annual Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution, at the New York County Lawyers Association. The event was covered by WNYC News.
Today is Fred Korematsu Day — named after an American-born man of Japanese descent who did everything he could to avoid being placed in an internment camp in the 1940s.
What is everything? He changed his name to Clyde Sarah. And got facial surgery in an attempt to appear less Japanese. But it didn’t work — he was arrested and jailed.
To read the full article and to listen to the podcast, click here.
The New York Law Journal featured “Child Care Must Be a Men’s Issue for True Equality,” a letter to the editor by Doris Ling-Cohan, AABANY member and Associate Justice for the Appellate Term, First Department.
Hon. Doris Ling-Cohan recalls the time she and her husband had to juggle child care responsibilities and their professional responsibilities. She notes what Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, that in order for there to be true equality for women child care cannot just be viewed as a women’s issue by society.