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.
WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Tampa Bay (APABA Tampa Bay) joined the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the South Asian Bar Association of North America, and other partners to oppose the Florida Conveyances to Foreign Entities Law (“SB 264”), a new statute that would prohibit individuals from purchasing real property in Florida based on national origin. The coalition filed an amicus brief, which can be found here, with the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida in support of the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction in Yifan Shen v. Wilton Simpson. The motion seeks a preliminary injunction barring the enforcement of SB 264.
The amicus brief continues the advocacy efforts of NAPABA and our Florida affiliates in opposing SB 264 during the legislative process. In yesterday’s brief, the coalition argued that laws such as SB 264 are “stains on American history” and that alien land laws have “historically and consistently been struck down as invidiously discriminatory.” They promote discrimination against the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community and endanger these populations under the guise of national security concerns.
The opposition to SB 264 coincides with the leadership of NAPABA and its affiliates in combatting similar efforts across the nation. Beyond Florida, NAPABA has opposed similar legislation introduced in Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama that targeted the AANHPI community. During NAPABA Lobby Day last month, our members demanded that Congress act in response to state actions restricting our communities’ ability to pursue a livelihood. Days later, Rep. Judy Chu of California, who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and Rep. Al Green of Texas introduced the Preemption of Real Property Discrimination Act in the United States House of Representatives. The bill, which NAPABA endorsed the same day, would nullify any state law that prohibits or otherwise restricts an individual’s right to purchase real property based only on that individual’s citizenship.
NAPABA President Sandra Leung denounced state efforts to enact such discriminatory policies, which “eerily recall ancient alien land laws, which were enacted over a hundred years ago, that barred Asian immigrants from owning land. Such laws belong in the dustbin of history, and they have no place in our nation today. While policymakers are free to address the legitimate national security concerns of the United States, they may not enact discriminatory laws on the backs of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community.”
“Unless enjoined, SB 264 will be applied in discriminatory ways and inflict lasting damage on Asian Pacific American communities in Florida and beyond,” said SeungEun April Lee, President of APABA Tampa Bay.
NAPABA extends its thanks and appreciation to Professor Robert S. Chang of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, the entire legal team at Foley Hoag LLP, and the NAPABA Amicus Committee, chaired by Radha Pathak and Albert Giang, for their work and leadership.
On May 22 and 23, 2023, AABANY members Yen-Yi Anderson, Vishal Chander, Chris Kwok, Rachel Lee, and Nandar Win Kerr converged on Washington D.C. for National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) Lobby Day. Each year, NAPABA organizes the event to educate members of Congress on issues of importance to the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community. NAPABA Lobby Day is scheduled to coincide with AANHPI Heritage Month in May of each year.
AABANY members met with the legislative staff of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. They discussed issues such as support for the LGBTQ+ community, protection of the right to counsel in immigration, mental health support for AANHPI and other diverse communities, profiling persons of Chinese ancestry, state passage of alien land laws, and AANHPI judicial and executive nominees.
Rachel Lee, an associate at Allen & Overy LLP, shared, “I am happy to have participated in NAPABA Lobby Day this year. It was an educational and eye-opening experience to learn about different issues impacting the AANHPI community and be able to advocate for our community on Capitol Hill at various congressional offices with fellow NAPABA members. I highly recommend the program and would participate again in the future.”
NAPABA is the nation’s largest Asian Pacific American membership organization representing the interest of 60,000 attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. NAPABA Lobby Day activities include a 3-Part Training Event, Congressional office visits, and an AANHPI Heritage Month Congressional Reception.
Written By: Vishal Chander, active AABANY member and Co-Chair, Solo & Small Firm Practice Committee
On May 18, 2023, the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission presented “Empowered Asian American Leadership” at the New York County Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street, in celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The program was co-sponsored by AABANY, the New York State Unified Court Systems Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Asian American Judges Association of New York, and the Asian Jade Society of the New York State Courts.
AABANY member Hon. Jeffrey Oing, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department; Commissioner, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, introduced the Keynote Address, “The Model Minority Victim,” delivered by AABANY member and former Chair of the AABANY: Anti-Asian Violence Task Force, Professor Elaine M. Chiu of St. John’s University School of Law.
Pre-recorded remarks by Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson commenced the program.
Welcome Remarks were provided by:
Hon. Shahabuddeen A. Ally, Supervising Judge, New York County Civil Court and Acting Justice of the New York Supreme Court; President of AAJANY; Commissioner, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, and AABANY member
Hon. Troy K. Webber, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department; Co-Chair, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission
Hon. Richard Rivera, Acting Supreme Court Justice and Supervising Judge of the Family Courts, Third Judicial District; Co-Chair, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission
Karen Kim, Senior Counsel at QBE North America; President, AABANY
The program also included CLE presentations, introduced by AABANY member Rina Gurung, Judge, Housing Part, New York City Civil Court; Commissioner, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission.
“The Path to Success and Overcoming Obstacles” was moderated by the Hon. Austin D’Souza, Judge, Civil Court of the City of New York Kings County and AABANY member. Panelists were:
Hon. Zainab A. Chaudhry – Judge, New York State Court of Claims, and AABANY member
Lieutenant Henry Chen– New York County Civil Court, Co-Founder and President, NYSC
Asian Jade Society; Commissioner, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission
“Positive Action to Combat the Perpetual Foreigner Syndrome and Empowering the Community” was moderated by the AABANY member Hon. Doris Ling-Cohan, former Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department; Commissioner, Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission. Panelists were:
Joseb “Joe” Gim, Esq. – Chief, Criminal Court Unit, Kings County District Attorney’s Office
Christina Seid – Community Activist, Entrepreneur, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, and AABANY member
President Frank H. Wu – President, Queens College, The City University of New York (CUNY)
Tony Walters, Director, New York State Unified Court System’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion provided Closing Remarks.
AABANY was privileged and honored to co-sponsor this event and thanks the Franklin H. Williams Commission for organizing it. AABANY thanks the speakers for sharing their knowledge and insights on important issues affecting the AAPI community. For more information about the Williams Commission visit their website at https://ww2.nycourts.gov/ip/ethnic-fairness/index.shtml
The Nominations and Elections Subcommittee is accepting nominations for Officer and Director candidates and applications for At-Large Board Member candidates for the 2023-24 NAPABA Board of Governors through June 30 at 8 pm ET. Officers and Directors are elected positions and At-Large Board Members are appointed to serve.
As the nation’s largest Asian American and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) membership organization, NAPABA continues to grow exponentially—maturity, stature, and staff. The NAPABA Board of Governors cultivates the strategic direction of the organization, provides resources to achieve goals and strategy, and exercises oversight ensuring the advancement of NAPABA’s strategic plan. The governing Board of 23 and national staff of eight complement and collaborate with each other—together united with a shared focus on advancing NAPABA’s mission through different perspectives and actions.
NAPABA is committed to having a governing board that reflects the diverse AA and NHPI legal community and has the right blend of skill, expertise, community connections, and diverse perspectives. We value an inclusive culture that embraces our diversity and empowers leaders to engage with each other and the community in a meaningful way by building trust, increasing transparency, and maximizing impact. We seek outstanding individuals of high character and integrity with proven leadership and board governance skills and who have demonstrated a strong commitment to NAPABA. The deadline for Officer and Director nominations and applications for At-Large Board Member candidates is June 30, 2023 at 8:00 pm ET.
To be considered for a NAPABA Officer, Director, or At-Large position, candidates must be a current individual member in good standing as of the date that the nominations or applications are submitted.
NAPABA invites you to join us on May 22-23 in Washington, DC for NAPABA’s 12th annual Lobby Day, taking place in-person for the first time in three years!
The NAPABA Annual Lobby Day is an opportunity for NAPABA members from across the country to educate members of Congress and Congressional staffers on issues of importance to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Lobby Day also gives members an active role in promoting NAPABA’s mission of advocating for justice, equity, and opportunity for AAPIs.
Lobby Day activities and events include:
3-Part Training Event
Happy Hour Debrief
Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Congressional Reception (Open to the public. Pre-registration is required.)
AABANY’s Academic Committee was proud to co-sponsor the second ever Workshop for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) and Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) Women in the Legal Academy at UC Davis School of Law, held on Friday, September 16, 2022. This conference is designed to support and mentor women aspiring to enter or who are in the legal academy. AABANY’s generous co-sponsorship allowed travel stipends for individuals to attend. It was a fantastic two-day event. Academic Committee Co-chairs Catherine Kim, Donna Lee, and Elaine Chiu were delighted to attend. To learn more about the Academic Committee, click here.
What do laundry workers in Manhattan’s 1930s Chinatown have to do with the neighborhood’s activists today? Experience stories of repression, mobilization, and resilience in Chinatown, past and present, at this evening of documentary film and discussion. We begin with Betty Yu’s Discovering My Grandfather Through Mao, about Yu’s grandfather’s activist work with laundry workers during the Chinese Exclusion era, followed by ManSee Kong’s Chinatown Tenant Stories: Mrs. Zheng on Delancey, about Chinatown resident Mrs. Zheng’s introduction to community organizing. The screenings conclude with a private preview of Curtis Chin’s unreleased documentary, Dear Corky, about the late photographer Corky Lee, who died of COVID-19. A talkback and audience Q & A with the directors, moderated by reporter Shirley Ng, will follow the films.
About the Speakers: Curtis Chin is an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker whose voice has been recognized by the National Association for Multicultural Education, the National Association for Ethnic Studies, the American Librarians Association, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and more. A graduate of the creative program at the University of Michigan, Chin has also received fellowships from ABC/Disney Television, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts, and served as a Visiting Scholar at New York University. As a community activist, Chin co-founded the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, the premiere non-profit dedicated to promoting Asian American writers. He has also worked as the Director of Outreach for the Democratic National Committee and served on Barack Obama’s Asian American Leadership Committee during his 2008 Presidential Campaign. His memoir, Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant is scheduled to be released in 2024. curtisfromdetroit.com
ManSee Kong is a filmmaker and cultural worker born and raised on unceded Lekawe and Munsee Lenape land (Queens/NYC). Her work is anchored in immigrant experiences and inspired by grassroots community organizing efforts. Her films have screened at Museum of Modern Art, Glasgow Women’s Library, film festivals and community spaces, with support from the Jerome Foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Camargo Foundation, Spike Lee Production Award, Puffin Foundation, and Asian Women Giving Circle. In 2015, she co-founded Chinatown Art Brigade (CAB) with Tomie Arai and Betty Yu, a cultural collective that uses art to advance community-led social justice campaigns. CAB has received support from A Blade of Grass, Rubin Foundation, Asian Women Giving Circle, Fourth Arts Block, Culture Push, Laundromat Project, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, among others. ManSee is a Third World Newsreel Production Workshop alum with an MFA in Film from NYU.
Shirley L. Ng is a staff writer for the news blog, Asian American News (AsAmNews) and a community organizer at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). She is an advocate for the Asian American community, a passionate supporter of Manhattan Chinatown and a member of several groups and associations. Shirley attended NYC public schools and graduated from Hunter College with a BA in Media Communications and Political Science. She was born in Manhattan and raised in Chinatown by immigrant parents from Toisan, China.
Betty Yu is a multimedia artist, photographer, filmmaker and activist born and raised in NYC to Chinese immigrant parents. Ms. Yu integrates documentary film, new media platforms, and community-infused approaches into her practice. She is a co-founder of Chinatown Art Brigade. Ms. Yu has been awarded artist residencies and fellowships from the Laundromat Project, A Blade of Grass, KODA Lab, Asian American Arts Alliance, and her work has been presented at the Brooklyn Museum, Queens Museum, NY Historical Society, and Artists Space. She holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College and a One-Year Certificate from International Center Photography New Media Narratives program. Ms. Yu teaches at Pratt Institute, Hunter College, and The New School and has over 20 years of community, media justice, and labor organizing work. Betty sits on the boards of Third World Newsreel and Working Films and on the advisory board of More Art.
About the Films: Chinatown Tenant Stories: Mrs. Zheng on Delancey (ManSee Kong, 2015, 6 mins.): Chinatown resident Mrs. Zheng reflects on her introduction to community organizing upon joining a local grassroots group after garment factories in Chinatown closed en masse after 9/11. Mrs. Zheng became a lead tenant organizer with CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities and successfully organized tenants in her own building on Delancey Street in 2005, pushing back against an unscrupulous landlord. Based on oral history conversations with Mrs. Zheng, Chinatown Tenant Stories is a video and talkback series created for use in tenant organizing meetings, and produced as part of the Asian American Oral History Collective in collaboration with Chinatown Tenants Union of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, with support from Third World Newsreel and LMCC.
Dear Corky (Curtis Chin, 2022, 16 mins.): For over fifty years, Corky Lee photographed New York City’s Chinatown, as well as the Asian American community around the country. With a strong sense of social justice, he captured the biggest activists and celebrities to the everyday heroes. Sadly, after continuing to document the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes, he fell to COVID. Through his words and pictures, this documentary offers a glimpse of the man behind the camera.
Discovering My Grandfather through Mao (Betty Yu, 2011, 18 mins.) is a short documentary film about Betty Yu’s personal journey as she uncovers her grandfather’s radical history as a labor organizer and co-founder of the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance of New York (CHLA), one of the oldest Chinese-American labor organizations in this country. Her grandfather, Sui Woo, a hand laundry worker came together with other workers and recognized the need for an organization that could challenge the racist and anti-Chinese policies in the 1930’s. Today, Chinese Americans and immigrants can learn from this rich history of workers resisting institutional racism and recognizing the importance of community organizing as a powerful tool.
About Asian CineVision: Asian CineVision (ACV) is a 501(c)(3) media arts nonprofit devoted to the development, exhibition, promotion, and preservation of Asian and Asian American experiences through storytelling. Our mission is to nurture and grow the community of makers and enthusiasts of Asian and Asian American independent film, television, and digital.
NAPABA is now accepting applications for the 2022-23 Leadership Advancement Program (LAP) for August 2022 to February 2023. LAP is a year-long experiential program, meant to equip mid-career attorneys with a skill set that will transform them into leaders, professionally and personally, while cultivating close-knit friends and resources. Attorneys in the program will:
Assess leadership and communications styles and use exercises to gain better self-awareness
Train to be more effective communicators and listeners
Learn how to set goals and ground their career vision
Become better at anticipating the oppositions faced in challenge
Grow their executive presence
Leave with a cohort of 24 advisors and friends
This cohort of 24 individuals will launch in a virtual environment, with the possibility of concluding with in-person workshops.
Grace Jamgochian, a Partner at Shearman & Sterling, a member of AABANY and Vice Chair of its Women’s Committee, and a former participant in the LAP Program described her experience as follows:
“Although I participated in the Leadership Advancement Program almost 5 years ago, I still have constant contact with my LAP community across the nation; we regularly seek advice from each other on all kinds of matters from parenting to random legal musings. The perspective you get from a small (but not too small) group of seasoned attorneys is really incredible!”
You must become a member of NAPABA to take advantage of this exclusive opportunity
If you have any questions or wish to apply, please visit the NAPABA website for more details or contact Maureen Gelwicks, Operations Director.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), represents the interests of over 60,000 Asian Pacific American (APA) legal professionals and nearly 90 national, state, and local APA bar associations. NAPABA is a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting APA communities. Through its national network, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of the federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes the professional development of people of all backgrounds in the legal profession.
On January 4, 2022, City Limits published an article entitled, “As NY Redistricting Forges Forward, Asian American Groups Push for ‘Unity Map’” detailing an independent coalition’s efforts to establish more equitable districts in the state.
As the redistricting process continues in New York, a coalition of three civil rights legal groups—the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Center for Law and Social Justice, and Latino Justice—seek to combat the fragmentation of minority communities. Altogether forming the Unity Map Coalition, the groups’ proposed “Unity Map” recognizes the rapid growth of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in New York and aims to preserve the political power of communities whose interests have historically been undermined in the redistricting process.
If adopted by Governor Kathy Hochul, the “Unity Map” would replace drafts developed by the state Independent Redistricting Commission, drafts which have been influenced by the coalition’s input but that have failed to fully address issues relayed by community members. Legal groups, such as AABANY, in addition to pro-democracy groups have signed onto a letter requesting another opportunity from state lawmakers to provide public comment before the governor approves draft maps.