AABANY Trusts & Estates Committee Hosts Inaugural Reception on Sept. 20 to Celebrate its Formation

AABANY’s newly-formed Trusts & Estates Committee held its inaugural event in the courtroom of Hon. Rita Mella at New York County Surrogate’s Court on Chambers Street in lower Manhattan on September 20, 2023. About two dozen attendees, including many AABANY members and court staff, filled the ornate courtroom. 

Yang Chen, the Executive Director of AABANY, presented welcome remarks, followed by Co-Chair P.M. Natasha Chang, who then introduced Co-Chair Yi Stewart. Yi introduced the Hon. Rita Mella, Surrogate Judge, New York County. (Yi was formerly Judge Mella’s law clerk.)

Judge Mella, both the host and honored guest, spoke on the history and role of Surrogate’s Courts, and the importance of diversity in the courts and among trusts & estates practitioners. Judge Mella disclosed that the Surrogate’s Court of New York County, which consists of only two judges (including Hon. Hilary Gingold) and their staff, processes approximately 10,000 cases a year. In addition to the probate and administration proceedings, the court handles adoption, guardianship, and miscellaneous proceedings. Among these cases, Judge Mella particularly noted the proceedings for settling 9/11-related personal injury and wrongful death claims which involve many who lived and worked in Manhattan Chinatown. 

Judge Mella had pulled from the records room and laid on the table for exhibit the original wills of Alexander Hamilton, Babe Ruth, Herman Melville, Marilyn Monroe, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Committee members pored over the documents in fascination. Champagne and dim sum were served before everyone gathered on the steps of the courtroom gallery for a photo. 

Congratulations to the T&E Committee, AABANY’s newest Committee, on a successful inaugural event. Thanks to everyone who came and took part, and thanks especially to Judge Mella and her staff for welcoming us into her beautiful and historic courtroom. To learn more about the T&E Committee and how you can get involved, go to https://www.aabany.org/page/1154. If you would like to join the Committee’s listserv, contact [email protected].

AABANY’s Judiciary Committee Hosts 2023 Judges’ Reception in Celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

On Wednesday, June 7, 2023, AABANY’s Judiciary Committee hosted its annual Judges’ Reception to honor newly inducted, elevated, and retiring judges, in celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Despite the poor air quality, the event had an impressive turnout, with nearly 80 in attendance, including  lawyers, judges, and retired judges, as well as AABANY Board Members and Committee Chairs. The event was held at the Surrogate’s Courthouse, 31 Chambers Street, in downtown Manhattan. 

The honorees recognized at the event were individuals who represent the significant strides that AAPI judges have made during the past year in the ongoing effort to enhance diversity in the judiciary. The following judges were honored: 

  • Hon. Jung Park, New York City Criminal Court
  • Hon. Anar Patel, New York State Court of Claims
  • Hon. Hari Singh, New York City Family Court, Bronx County
  • Hon. Karen Lin, New York City Civil Court, Queens County
  • Hon. Kris Singh, Surrogate Court, Montgomery County
  • Hon. Leigh Cheng, New York City Civil Court, Queens County
  • Hon. Nisha Menon, New York City Family Court, Kings County
  • Hon. Sarika Kapoor, New York State Court of Claims
  • Hon. Rina Gurung, New York City Housing Court, Bronx County 
  • Hon. Vijay Kitson, New York City Housing Court, New York County
  • Hon. Jessica Sin, New York City Family Court, Queens County
  • Hon. Shantonu Basu, New York City Housing Court, Kings County
  • Hon. L. Austin D’Souza, New York City Civil Court, Kings County
  • Hon. Zainab Chaudhury, New York Court of Claims
  • Hon. Arun Subramanian, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York

We are proud to celebrate these AAPI trailblazers in the judiciary. AAPI jurists remain significantly under-represented in New York courts. To date, there is no AAPI Justice serving on the United States Supreme Court. There is also no AAPI judge on New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. New York remains in 2023 as one of 42 states in the country without an AAPI judge on the state’s highest court. According to the Asian American Judges Association of New York (AAJANY), AAPI judges comprise nearly 4.60% of the total judiciary in New York State, compared to 10.8% of the population of New York State and 17.3% of the population of New York City being of AAPI descent. Hon. Shahabuddeen Ally, Supervising Judge of New York County Civil Court, and President of AAJANY, emphasized: “[T]he numbers tell us there is a lot of work to do. When the numbers go up, we all do better.” 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 and inspirational role.

Thanks to everyone who joined us for this event and the Judiciary Committee for organizing it. To learn more about AABANY’s Judiciary Committee and its work, click here. To see more photos, go here.

Congratulations to Vanessa Fang on her Appointment as a Housing Court Judge of the New York City Civil Court

The Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY) congratulates Judge Vanessa Fang on her appointment as a Housing Court Judge of the New York City Civil Court, Housing Part. Judge Fang was appointed in June 2021, and currently sits in New York County. 

Judge Fang began her legal career with the New York State Unified Court System as a court attorney in 2010 and has handled residential landlord-tenant summary proceedings throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. Judge Fang is a graduate of St. John’s University School of Law and Boston University; she has also been a member of AABANY since 2018.

Please join AABANY in congratulating Judge Fang on her appointment. We wish her much success during her tenure on the bench.

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.




(NY, NY) The Joint Minority Bar Association Judicial Screening Panel recently interviewed and rated judicial candidates for the Civil Court of the City of New York and the Supreme Court of the State of New York. Interviews were conducted by representatives of the Asian American Bar Association of New York, Dominican Bar Association, LGBT Bar Association, Metropolitan Black Bar Association, Puerto Rican Bar Association and the South Asian Bar Association of New York.

The Committee convened to determine whether candidates were qualified for the judicial office using a three-tiered rating system of “qualified,” “well qualified,” and "exceptionally well qualified."  A candidate was rated “Qualified” if the candidate satisfied the basic criteria to be considered a viable candidate for the judicial position sought. A rating of “Well Qualified” was given if the candidate met the basic criteria and demonstrated a level of skill, experience, sound judgment, and excellence in his or her professional career, which would sustain or improve the quality of the bench or judicial position sought. An “Exceptionally Well Qualified” rating reflects that the candidate has fulfilled the requirements necessary for a “Well Qualified” rating and demonstrated outstanding accomplishments. The ratings were decided during a closed-door vote after review of the each candidate’s background, professional ability, experience, character, judicial temperament, and other pertinent qualities. The Panel’s findings were as follows:

New York Supreme Court – Bronx County
Hon. Larry S. Schachner – Exceptionally Well Qualified

New York Supreme Court – Kings County
Hon. Desmond A. Green – Exceptionally Well Qualified

New York Supreme Court – New York County
Hon. Peter H. Moulton – Exceptionally Well Qualified

Judge of the Civil Court, 1st Municipal District, Bronx County
Lucianna Locorotondo – Well Qualified
Armando Montano – Well Qualified

Judge of the Civil Court, Kings County
Hon. ShawnDya L. Simpson – Exceptionally Well Qualified

Judge of the Civil Court, New York County
Dakota Ramseur – Well Qualified

Judge of the Civil Court, 2nd Municipal Disctrict, New York County
Hon. Kathryn E. Freed – Exceptionally Well Qualified
Hon. Marcy S. Friedman – Exceptionally Well Qualified
Adam Silvera – Well Qualified

For more information contact R. Nadine Fontaine at [email protected].

Immigration and Nationality Law Committee Meeting: April 23, 2013


On Tuesday, April 23, 2013, the Immigration and Nationality Law Committee organized a committee meeting and was honored to have as its featured speaker Rosemary Yu, Co-Director of the Immigrant Affairs Program at the New York County District Attorney’s Office.  Ms. Yu spoke about the important work of the Immigrant Affairs Program, which was established in 2007 to investigate and prosecute fraud committed against immigrants, and to educate the public about immigration fraud and related issues through fraud prevention workshops and seminars.   Ms. Yu also discussed ways that attorneys can help identify and prevent immigration fraud – an especially relevant and timely topic in light of impending comprehensive immigration reform, which is expected to pass later this year.  

If you are interested in learning more about the Immigrant Affairs Program of the New York County DA’s Office or want to get more information about the Immigration and Nationality Law Committee, contact co-chairs Rio Guerrero and Tsui Yee at [email protected].

2012 Attorneys’ Guide to Civil Practice in the New York Country Supreme Court

From our friends at NYCLA:

The 2012 Attorneys’ Guide to Civil Practice in the New York County Supreme Court, compiled by those who work in the Supreme Court, is now on sale! THE essential guide book for every lawyer practicing on the civil side in Manhattan, the Attorneys’ Guide is a concise resource for details about judges, court personnel, and procedures in the Supreme Court. Highlights include: Commencing a Lawsuit, Assignments and Case Processing under the CCJP, Motion Practice, Back Offices and major County Clerk Operations, including Entry of Judgments, Commercial Division, Judges and Staff, and much more! Copies can be purchased at http://www.nycla.org/pdf/2012AttorneysGuideFlyer.pdf .

Use special offer code ASIANAMBAR when ordering to get a 50% discount – pay $50 per copy instead of $100.

Press Release: Joint Minority Bar Judicial Screening Panel

Press Release: Joint Minority Bar Judicial Screening Panel