AABANY hosted for the second time the Columbia Law School’s Spring Break Caravan. This year, Caravan representative Angel Li (CLS ’23) reached out to the Pro Bono & Community Service Committee (PBCS) and Student Outreach Committee (SOC) to supervise six students during the week of March 14, 2022. During this program, students shadowed volunteer attorneys at the Queens pro bono clinics held on Saturdays, researched and drafted legal training materials for the pro bono clinics, attended a legal community presentation about bankruptcy, and met with various mentors from law firms and SOC graduates.
On behalf of PBCS, we want to thank these law students for creating much-needed training materials to help volunteer attorneys in recognizing common issues in housing, family, wills and estates, and immigration law with flowcharts and outlines. These pro bono clinics act like triages in which attorneys spot issues for the individuals and provide legal information and referrals within a 30-minute session. We’ve been quite fortunate to have the support of our volunteer attorneys who are willing to teach each other and to open the eyes of these young law students about the problems many indigent and limited English proficient clients face daily.
On behalf of SOC, we are grateful for the not-for profit and biglaw corporate attorneys coming together to mentor these law students. Despite their different backgrounds and areas of practice, members of AABANY are always generously contributing their time, resources, and efforts to aid the AAPI community and leading these law students to a career of their own choosing.
Rather than picking just one essay from the Caravan, we believe it’s best to share with you all a snippet of these law students’ thoughts about the Caravan. We wish them the best in completing their studies and continue the AABANY’s spirit of giving back to the community.
Eugene Kim, PBCS
William Lee, SOC
May Wong, PBCS
Supervisors of the Caravan
“In the first instance, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the texts that were assigned preparatory to the start of the Caravan. The excerpt from How Do You Live? was especially memorable as a means of getting me into the right mindset before the program even formally began. It goes without saying that behind every law student and lawyer lies a sizable aggregation of resources: years of schooling, various internship opportunities, and votes of confidence from a network of supportive people. Law students and lawyers are the products of considerable societal investment; as such, it is incumbent upon them to give back and to give generously.”
-Andrew Chang –
“While I knew that our society had those problems, I realized that knowing problems is different from helping people facing the problems. I also understood that volunteer attorneys need to deal with various issues in different legal areas in a limited time in the clinic. Therefore, clients’ problems are not entirely solved there, but clients are given helpful advice on the following steps to solve the problems.”
– Nobuko Ikeda –
“Overall, I really valued not only peeking into the issues faced by the community, but also into how Asian American attorneys are helping combat those issues through the clinic. This caravan has inspired me to participate in the pro bono clinic as a future attorney, and I look forward to exploring even more ways to make the sessions efficient and to help the clients legally and emotionally.”
-Angel Li –
“What I found during the research was that massive amounts of materials and resources are already provided by municipal bodies, government officials, and private law firms on the internet. However, people who are not legal professionals would have difficulty utilizing these public resources. The difficulty arises from a language barrier and complexity in understanding and applying legal standards to one’s own situation.”
– Shota Sugiura-
“I appreciated all the genuine and candid advice I received from our Caravan supervisors, and am especially grateful for the wisdom from my AABANY mentor. It was an amazing opportunity to hear from lawyers from a range of backgrounds: those working in public service, those at firms, those who have transitioned to in-house. It was an equally exciting chance to build bonds with other Columbia APALSA members who felt passionate about giving back to our community.”
On Sunday, January 30th, a group of AABANY members from the Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) and Government Service & Public Interest (GSPI) Committees joined a nationwide rally for Asian justice. The AABANY group, led by May Wong, vice-chair of PBCS, and Kevin Hsi, co-chair of GSPI, held vibrant posters to raise awareness on anti-Asian hate and violence.
The Asian Justice Rally was held on the anniversary of the death of 84-year old Thai grandfather Vicha Ratanapakdee, commemorating him and the many victims of Asian hate. The rally drew attendees in San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta, and worldwide on livestream. In Manhattan, speakers included Senator John Liu, Senator Chuck Schumer, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation Jo-Ann Yoo, NYC Public Advocate Jumanne Williams, the daughter of victim Vilma Kari, the aunt of the late Christian Hall, and Assistant District Attorney and AABANY member Grace Vee.
A group of AABANY members, including co-chair of GSPI Kevin Hsi (far left), holding colorful printouts brought by AABANY member and event speaker Grace Vee. Photo by Han Wen Zhang.
“Silence is violence, we are not a virus.”
“Get it right the first time, that was a hate crime.”
The crowd chanted in Foley Square, surrounded by the New York Supreme Court, the Federal Courthouse and the Manhattan Municipal Building. Hundreds of attendees held signs demanding justice and awareness. Around 2:45 pm, a minute of silence was observed in remembrance of the victims of anti-Asian hate. The rally ended with a march through the streets of Lower Manhattan.
On November 8, 2021, the New York Law Journal published an article co-authored by Pro Bono & Community Service Committee Co-Chair Karen King, together with fellow Morvillo Abramowitz Partner Telemachus Kasulis. The article is entitled “DOJ’s China Initiative’s Three-Year Anniversary: Growing Pains and Uncertainty.”
The article discussess how the Department of Justice’s “China Initiative” encourages discrimination and racial profiling against Asian Americans. The China initiative was started three years ago to combat economic and national security threats from the Chinese government. The article reveals how in reality only a small portion of cases involved actual charges of economic espionage or conspiracy. In one instance, a Chinese Canadian engineering professor, Anming Hu, was wrongly prosecuted for being a Chinese spy and was acquitted of all charges this past September.
The authors note a parallel of the China Initiative to other discriminatory acts: “Critics continue to liken the China Initiative to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, McCarthyism, and racial profiling against Muslims in the wake of the September 11th attacks.”
The article relates that the Biden administration has only made five new cases public. The authors note that the Biden administration appears to be stepping away from non-disclosure cases in which ties to the Chinese government appear weak.
To read the full article, click on the following link:
On August 14, AABANY’s Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee and Government Service and Public Interest (GSPI) Committee hosted a hybrid legal clinic and provided a “Know Your Rights” presentation for residential and commercial tenants on the topic of rent arrears and evictions. The event was held at the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) in Manhattan’s Chinatown and was co-sponsored by AABANY, CCBA, Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE), and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of New York (CCCNY).
During the presentation, which was shown on Zoom and screened in-person at CCBA, Rina Gurung, an associate court attorney at the New York State Unified Court System and co-chair of the GSPI Committee; Kensing Ng, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society in East Harlem; and Meghan Liu, a Cleary Gottlieb pro bono fellow at Legal Services NYC, discussed different types of cases that are brought in housing court, such as nonpayment, holdover, and housing part cases. They also explained which eviction moratoria are in effect due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and emphasized that these laws can change at any time. This was especially relevant, given the imminent expiration of the COVID-19 Emergency Eviction and Foreclosure Prevention Act on August 31, 2021; the expiration of the CDC’s moratorium on October 3, 2021; and the U.S. Supreme Court’s August 12, 2021 opinion striking down part of the New York moratorium.
Gurung, Liu, and Ng also provided resources that tenants could contact to file hardship declarations and explained the basics of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which provides rental arrears, temporary rental assistance, and utility arrears assistance to low- and moderate-income households at risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. They also explained that landlords seeking to sue their tenants should hire a lawyer and for those who received a marshal’s notice to go to court. In addition, the presenters explained differences in procedures for cases involving commercial tenants and provided resources for both landlords and tenants, phone numbers for free consultations for income-eligible individuals, and a guide to landlord disputes. Bei Yang, a contract attorney at On Call Counsel, interpreted the presentation live into Mandarin Chinese.
Eighteen clients attended the clinic for one-on-one legal consultations with AABANY volunteers, including 12 who had registered beforehand, one virtual caller, and five walk-ins. Topics ranged from housing and matrimonial law to immigration, fraud, medical malpractice, and personal injury. All available client consultation slots were successfully filled.
One client, an older man who only spoke Cantonese, came to the clinic because he had been scammed by a woman who claimed to be interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with him online. She then asked him to send her a significant sum of money, and he did so before realizing that she was a fraud. Such occurrences are not uncommon, especially among elders, and individuals who have been or who know victims of similar types of fraud should not feel ashamed to tell their stories or speak to an attorney. Sharing these stories promotes awareness of these types of scams and helps others avoid them.
While AABANY volunteers were conducting one-on-one consultations, several clients watched the presentation in the CCBA sitting area. One client asked for the PBCS email to see if she could get a recording of the presentation and re-watch it, as she missed a portion of the live presentation. She also was impressed by clips from the Anti-Asian Violence PSA that explained what hate crimes were and how they can be reported, and asked for the link to the YouTube video, even though she spoke no English. After the one-on-one consultations concluded, volunteers debriefed the clinic and got to know each other over a post-clinic meal at Canton Lounge.
The PBCS Committee thanks Rina Gurung, Kensing Ng, and Meghan Liu for lending their expertise in rent arrears, eviction moratoria, and landlord and tenant rights and Bei Yang for providing a live interpretation of the presentation. The Committee would also like to thank Beatrice Leong, Francis Chin, Guiying Ji, Jae Hyung Ryu, Judy (Ming Chu) Lee, Karen Kithan Yau, Kwok Ng, Samantha Sumilang, and Shengyang Wu for providing clients with legal information and resources during one-on-one consultations; Kloe Chiu and Esther Choi for providing language interpretation during one-on-one consultations; Luna Fu and Wai Yip from AAFE for language interpretation and other assistance; Zhixian (Jessie) Liu and Poonam Gupta for acting as standby consultants for immigration-related questions; and Asako Aiba, Karen Lin, Kevin Hsi, Kwok Ng, May Wong, Megan Gao, and Olympia Moy for coordinating and staffing the clinic. AABANY would also like to thank CCBA, CCCNY, and AAFE for co-sponsoring this event. We are also grateful to the staff at Charles B. Wang for providing video resources on mental health and anti-Asian hate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To learn more about the PBCS Committee and its work, click here and here. The PBCS Committee is tentatively planning to hold its next hybrid legal clinic on Saturday, September 18, 2021 between 12:30 PM – 3:30 PM. For up-to-date details about the clinic and registration information, please click here.
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.
On May 26, the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), along with the New York City Bar Association (NYCBA) and the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA), hosted a CLE program about the rise in anti-Asian violence during the past year. Karen King, AABANY Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee Co-Chair welcomed the attendees. Bret Parker, the Executive Director of the New York City Bar Association introduced the program and gave his thanks to the organizers of the event as well. Karen Kithan Yau, AABANY Board Director and the moderator for the event, introduced the program’s panelists: PBCS Committee Co-Chair and Morvillo Abramowitz Partner Karen King; AABANY Board Director, Issues Committee Co-Chair, Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair and JAMS Mediator Chris Kwok; Girls Rule the Law founder Mirna Santiago; Kings County DA Office Bureau Chief Kin Ng; and Legal Aid Society Cop Accountability Project attorney Jennvine Wong.
Karen King and Chris began the presentation for the event. Karen first discussed the origins of anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic, explaining that anti-Asian bias incidents began very early on in the pandemic. The number of incidents only tapered off due to the stay-at-home orders, before increasing once again after President Trump’s inflammatory statements blaming Asians for the outbreak. Chris also pointed out that the New York Police Department (NYPD) often neglected to fully investigate the earliest occurrences of anti-Asian hate, regarding them as minor incidents. He also presented a brief history of anti-Asian violence, beginning with the Chinese massacre of 1871 which immunized violence against Asians and ending with the Vincent Chin case. Karen then discussed the causes of the violence against Asians. She explained that societal stress, inaccurate information, underreporting, lack of cultural awareness of the discrimination that Asians face, and prosecution’s tendency to not pursue hate crime enhancements all contributed to the increase in anti-Asian incidents. Chris also noted that the NYPD Asian Hate Crimes Task Force not only lacks funding, but that its members are already assigned to other departments in the NYPD and serve on the Task Force on a volunteer basis. The Black Lives Matter and the Defund the Police movements also eclipsed the issue of anti-Asian violence through the end of 2020. Karen explained that AABANY’s report on anti-Asian violence was written to document this issue and keep it in the public eye.
After the presentation, Karen Yau opened the conversation to the rest of the panelists. She began by addressing Mirna, asking her what it meant to be an ally. Mirna explained that the feeling of “otherness” is something that all minority groups face. She also emphasized the need to break away from tit-for-tat allyship and to build a trans-racial coalition united to fight against racism and hate.
Karen then turned to Kin and asked about the reasons why any hate crimes had yet to be successfully prosecuted. Kin explained that unlike other crimes, law enforcement must not only prove that the perpetrator committed the crime, but also must prove that the perpetrator was motivated by racist sentiments. This process is often lengthy and requires a great deal of investigation. Kin also pointed out that acquiring evidence of hate speech can be prevented by the victim’s inability to understand English. He acknowledged how frustrating the process was, but also encouraged the attendees to report any incidents, as establishing a pattern aids the prosecution of hate crimes.
Karen then followed up by asking how prosecutors dealt with the difficulties of investigating hate crimes. Kin explained that establishing trust between the District Attorney’s Office and people in the community is instrumental in acquiring evidence. He also pointed out that more funding and employing more bilingual individuals to act as a liaison between the DA’s Office and the community would aid prosecution immensely.
Karen then turned to the issue of over-incarceration. Addressing Jennvine, Karen asked her thoughts about combating anti-Asian incidents without turning to incarceration. Jennvine acknowledged the issue, emphasizing how hate crime enhancements disproportionately affect other minorities who are already overrepresented in the prison system. She also asserted that criminalization would obscure the root cause of the violence, white supremacy. Rather than buy into the media’s false narrative of blacks versus Asians, Jennvine explained that many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are subjected to violence because they are trapped in poverty and living in unsafe neighborhoods. Jennvine concluded by contending that turning to the NYPD would not offer a viable long-term solution.
Karen then returned to Kin, asking if the new discovery laws had any effect on the prosecution of hate crimes. Kin explained that the new laws would allow the alleged perpetrator’s defense attorney to call witnesses in their homes because the defense is entitled to interview witnesses. This change has resulted in some individuals being less willing to testify, making underreporting more severe.
Karen then moved the conversation to bail reform. She described one incident where, due to the pandemic, the alleged perpetrator of a bias incident was not put on trial and walked free without an order of protection for the alleged victim for several months before going to court. Jennvine responded by emphasizing the importance of bail reform and how previous bail laws only gave victims a false sense of security. She also pointed out that orders of protection are typically granted and also tend to only give protection in name. Kin also noted that the large gap between the report of the incident and the court date was due to the extraordinary circumstances caused by the pandemic. The absence of an order of protection was due to the lack of a court hearing until the later date.
Karen then addressed Chris, asking about his experiences in speaking with the media. Chris explained that when the report was published in February of 2021, mass media was not aware of the basic facts about anti-Asian violence. When the media coverage began to recede in March, the Atlanta shootings gave new gravity to the situation, though much of the nuance about the issue was lost in the popular narrative which pits blacks against Asians. Nonetheless, Chris also noted that the attention Asians have received in the media is unprecedented.
Karen then turned back to Mirna, asking to what degree the conflict between Asians and blacks is real. Mirna emphasized the need to educate others and to reconsider our own bias when being an ally. She also highlighted Grace Lee Boggs, an Asian woman who was extremely active in the fight for black civil rights in the 1960s. She closed by reiterating the need for listening and empathy across communities.
Karen then inquired about the importance of symbols, such as swastikas, in prosecuting hate crimes. Kin responded that since Asian cultures are extremely diverse, finding a single symbol that could be employed as a hate symbol against Asians would be difficult. Kin also reiterated that the police’s ability to prove a connection between race and the crime depends largely on the amount of effort the police are willing to put into the investigation.
Karen’s final question was about the possibility of a program where alleged perpetrators could receive counseling from victims. Karen King disagreed, questioning its practicality, but supported counseling perpetrators. Mirna concurred, stating that it should never be the burden of the victims to help their perpetrators. Chris also emphasized the importance of education and cultural competency in combating racism and building solidarity.
Kin and Chris then closed the panel discussion by reemphasizing the need for reporting incidents, as the issue of anti-Asian violence would remain invisible unless victims and witnesses stepped forward to bring the issue into the spotlight.
The President of the NYSBA, Scott Karson, concluded the event by thanking the organizers, panelists, and attendees for participating in the event, and reiterated NYSBA’s solidarity with the Asian community. Karen Yau also encouraged attendees to volunteer for AABANY’s Hate Eradication Active Response Team (HEART), an initiative which would allow volunteers to connect community members who had experienced a bias incident with legal and mental health resources.
To learn more about the HEART initiative click here. To view the full video of the program, click here.
On May 25, the Asian American Bar Association of New York’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force (AAVTF) hosted an information briefing about the AAVTF’s activities and about the rise in anti-Asian violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The speakers for the event were AABANY President Terry Shen; Board Director, Issues Committee Co-Chair and Asia Practice Committee Co-Chair Chris Kwok; Board Director and past Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee Co-Chair Karen Yau; PBCS Committee Co-Chair Karen King; Prosecutors’ Committee Co-Chair Joseb Gim; and Executive Director Yang Chen.
Chris and President Shen gave the opening remarks, introducing the event, and thanking all the attendees for coming.
After these remarks, Chris began the presentation, explaining how the publicity about anti-Asian violence generated in mainstream media has suddenly catapulted Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) into the public consciousness. Unlike before, Asians are now viewed as a group that experiences discrimination and violence, just like any other minority. Chris explained that these realizations politically empower AAPIs to make change in the political system as Asians become more aware about race and the ways in which it affects them. The AAPI identity has also been recreated through artwork, publications, and other initiatives. Asian non-profits have also begun receiving a large influx of donations that have great potential to aid the AAPI community. Chris also discussed the history of AABANY’s report and how Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric about the virus incited a wave of anti-Asian hate and violence during early 2020. These events culminated in the report’s publication in February 2021. Karen then discussed the report’s publication process which involved the feedback and support of bar associations, law firms and other organizations. The subsequent publicity generated by the report was cemented by the anti-Asian shootings in Atlanta. Ever since, Karen explained, AABANY has frequently been requested to speak at numerous events and on many media outlets. Many initiatives proposed by the report have also since been implemented.
Yang then went on to discuss the genesis of the AAVTF, made up of members of the Academic Committee, Issues Committee, Legal Referral and Information Services (LRIS) Committee, PBCS Committee, Prosecutors Committee, and Student Outreach Committee as well as Immediate Past President Sapna Palla, President Shen, and President-Elect Will Ng. Yang also explained how the AAVTF was founded to realize the goals outlined in the report, focusing on three prongs of action: education/communication, research, and advocacy. Ever since, the AAVTF has pressed for hate crime prosecutions in DA Offices, published Know Your Rights Brochures for community members on what to do if they face an anti-Asian bias incident or hate crime, organized speaking engagements, begun data tracking for incidents, formed the Hate Eradication Active Response Team (HEART), and much more to raise awareness and combat anti-Asian violence.
Joe Gim, prosecutor and the Chief of the new Hate Crimes Bureau at the Nassau County DA Office next discussed the role of the Prosecutors’ Committee in the AAVTF, which was primarily to shed light on criminal statutes and on the gaps between law enforcement’s understanding and implementation of these statutes. This information, Joe explained, is used to strengthen AABANY’s initiatives and advocacy efforts.
Chris affirmed this statement, reiterating his thanks to the AAVTF and the indispensable support it provides in leading the conversation about anti-Asian violence. Chris also pointed out that any movements that fight back against hate, regardless of which group is targeted, are fighting against a common enemy of structural racism.
Yang and Karen Yau went on to promote the Turning the Tide (T3) Project, which is hosted at the Asian American Law Fund of New York (AALFNY) to raise money for the AAVTF’s initiatives, research, and advocacy combating anti-Asian hate and violence. Karen King also gave a special shoutout to the HEART initiative, encouraging the attendees to volunteer their time to help connect victims of anti-Asian violence with legal aid and other resources. She also encouraged attendees to involve their law firms as sponsors for projects and events.
Chris then closed the presentation by pointing out how the police’s lackluster response to hate crimes is in part due to the historical invisibility of the AAPI community. He also explained how this invisibility has its roots in the 1853 People v. Hall case where George Hall, a white man, was convicted but then released after murdering a Chinese miner. Chris explained how Hall appealed his release on the basis of a California statute which prevented people of color from testifying against whites. Chris also emphasized that supporting the Black Lives Matter movement does not detract from support for the AAPI cause. To illustrate the importance of building a multi-racial coalition, Chris recounted an interview he had with the celebrated documentary director Spike Lee for his film about New York City and race that will be released in September 2021. Lee explained that he had chosen to interview Chris because “people were asking where the Asians were. And I listened.”
After the presentations, the discussion was opened to the attendees for a question and answer session.
Karen Lin, PBCS Committee Co-Chair asked whether or not AABANY would advocate for including AAPI history in the public school curriculum. Yang answered by reiterating AABANY’s support of any educational initiatives, pointing to AABANY’s trial reenactments project as an example.
AABANY member Jennifer Luo then pointed the discussion towards the lack of successful hate crime prosecutions. Joe explained that law enforcement currently lacks sufficient resources and infrastructure to investigate hate crimes. As hate crimes are unique in that the prosecutor must prove that the perpetrator was motivated to commit the crime due to racial bias, this process requires more investigation and information which the police currently lacks. To address this issue, Joe also proposed creating a database of hate crimes and bias incidents that would allow law enforcement to easily access information and also to enable community members to report incidents more efficiently. He also mentioned the newly minted COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would allocate funding towards combating hate crimes. Chris also added that AABANY is planning a Candidates’ Forum that would give AABANY and its members an opportunity to ask about measures being considered to protect the AAPI community from violence.
David Ahn then asked about AABANY’s plans to monitor hate crimes going forward. Chris answered by citing AABANY’s involvement in a case in Flushing, Queens where the perpetrator, despite revealing his racist sentiments in a text sent to the New York Times, was not charged with a hate crime. After AABANY’s advocacy in the DA’s Office, the perpetrator was charged with a hate crime. Chris also added that, though not every case would lead to a hate crime enhancement, AABANY is continuing to monitor the news and other outlets for advocacy opportunities. Yang also explained that the HEART initiative would help AABANY keep track of the incidents, connect with the community, and improve AABANY’s advocacy efforts. Karen Yau also pointed out that there are other alternatives to criminal prosecutions that victims would be able to pursue if they wished.
Chris then shared his own experiences with anti-Asian violence growing up, recounting a story where his friends were assaulted by a white supremacist gang while exiting a movie theater in Queens. He also described his efforts to reconnect with them hoping to preserve their stories and voices as a part of the history of anti-Asian violence.
AABANY Treasurer William Hao also discussed his own involvement in the aftermath of the Atlanta shootings while on a call with former U.S. Attorney Byung J. (“BJay”) Pak, the FBI, and local law enforcement. Will shared that even though the media had severely twisted the narrative by promoting the perpetrator’s claim that he had not been motivated by racism, the call served to give Asians a voice in revealing the truth of the events and reshaping the story. Will concluded by emphasizing the importance of AAPI representation in government and law enforcement.
Marilyn Go (USMJ EDNY, ret’d) then asked about AABANY’s ability to speak out during majority political forums. Chris answered by pointing out the difficulty of entering majority forums, but also noted that events recorded on Zoom would allow AABANY to hold candidates accountable for their words. Yang also referenced the City Council District One Candidates’ Forum which did take questions from AABANY regarding the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force. Jennifer then asked about the possibility of keeping a record of candidates’ responses regarding issues of anti-Asian violence. Chris responded that AABANY’s future plans to hold a Manhattan DA Candidates’ forum would allow AABANY to record responses from the candidates on that issue.
AABANY thanks all of the attendees for their time and their commitment to serving the AAPI community. To view the recording of the event, click here.
AABANY announced on May 28, 2021, that through the Pro Bono & Community Service (PBCS) Committee, Government Service & Public Interest (GSPI) Committee and the Student Outreach Committee (SOC), it established a phone line to aid limited English proficient (LEP) applicants in applying for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program, also known as Section 8. Section 8 is a government rental housing program that allows low-income families, the elderly and disabled to rent privately-owned and safe housing. Applicants will be selected by the New York State Homes & Community Renewal (NYSHCR) agency’s Section 8 Voucher Waitlist Lottery. The deadline for application is May 28, 11:59 AM ET. As for ERAP, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) is offering a program that provides rental and utility assistance to eligible New York residents who owe arrears. Households will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as funds remain available.
When applying for housing and aid, many LEP applicants have had difficulty finding language assistance. AABANY hopes to help LEP applicants who do not have electronic access in completing the application by telephone. Interested applicants may contact (929) 251-3022 or email@example.com to schedule a time with an AABANY volunteer to receive aid in contacting HCR and the OTDA.
To view AABANY’s flyer about the Section 8 Waitlist Lottery, click on the image above.
To read more about AABANY’s efforts to aid the Chinese LEP community, click here.
On Tuesday, February 9, 2021, AABANY held its Annual Meeting of Members on Remo. President Sapna Palla called the meeting to order and established quorum. Elections were held for the 2021 Board of Directors and Officers.
President Sapna Palla presented the Year in Review and Executive Director, Yang Chen, presented the report of the Committees. Following the reports, awards were presented to honor AABANY leaders and committees for their dedication to AABANY over the past year. While these presentations were occurring, Immediate Past President Brian Song and President-Elect Terrence Shen tallied the votes.
The following officers were elected and will begin their term on April 1, 2021:
William Ng President-Elect
Cynthia Lam Vice President, Programs and Operations
Joe Eng Vice President, Programs and Operations
Margaret Ling Development Director
William Hao Treasurer
Christopher Bae Secretary
Beatrice Leong Membership Director
The following candidates were elected as Directors to serve two-year terms starting on April 1, 2021:
Jasmine Ball Jeff Ikejiri Suzanne Kim Chris Kwok David Sohn Bart Wu Karen Yau Andy Yoo
Congratulations to all the Officers and Directors who were elected to the Board.
The following awards were presented:
Committees of the Year: The Pro Bono and Community Service Committee and the Student Outreach Committee
For the numerous initiatives they organized to support the community during COVID-19, including Know Your Rights webinars, COVID Rent Relief Program application drives, and postering and social media campaigns to promote the Remote Pro Bono Legal Clinic and other community programs.
Program of the Year: Weekly Membership Mixers
For hosting more than 30 weekly mixers on Zoom and Remo since April 1, 2020 to provide an open space for members and non-members to share their feelings, see old friends, and make new connections.
Member of the Year: Bart Wu
For his outstanding work with the Legal Referral and Information Service, which he helped launch, and his work reviving the Solo and Small Firm Practice Committee.
Congratulations to all the honorees for the recognition of their achievements and hard work during the 2021 fiscal year.
Congratulations to the Officers and Directors elected to the Board to serve during fiscal year 2022 which commences on April 1, 2021.
We would also like to thank our members for attending and participating in the annual meeting.
As an out-of-state law graduate from Tennessee, I was not familiar with any specific New York practice rules. While waiting for my bar exam results and preparing for my legal career in New York, and with the encouragement of my mentor Mr. Rocky Chin, I participated in the AABANY Remote Pro Bono Legal Clinic. The Clinic provides legal information and referrals to individuals, particularly those with limited English proficiency, with legal issues such as immigration, housing, employment, family, elder law, anti-Asian violence, and those pertaining to small businesses.
After registration, I received an email with a list of cases that was sent to all volunteers. Volunteers can choose to take on one or more cases based on interests or experience, and if you are not licensed or not experienced in a specific area, the Clinic partners you with a more experienced attorney to remotely shadow and learn from. Since I have not yet been admitted and this was my first time volunteering, I decided to shadow Ms. May Wong, an experienced volunteer attorney, on a contract law case.
Before making a callback, Ms. Wong and I knew that our client only spoke Mandarin and had been recently served with a Summons. With this limited information at hand, we discussed the legal matters that we needed to inform the client of. These matters included the risk of a default judgment if the clinic client did not respond to the service in a timely fashion (CPLR §3215: default judgment), the possible defenses the client might take, like defects in the service of process (§CPLR 308: Methods of personal service upon a natural person), and the statute of limitations (CPLR §213(2): 6 years for a breach of contract claim in New York). Ms. Wong then patiently went over the normal calling process and basic civil procedure in New York with me. Only after making sure that I did not have any more questions and was comfortable to make the call, she started our three-way phone call with the clinic client.
On the call, we explained our limited roles and asked the client to elaborate on the facts of his case. While acting as a language interpreter, I was able to ask the caller questions about his case to narrow down the issues, thus gaining useful intake skills. I learned that this case was about a family business dispute worth $25,000. The caller was not represented by an attorney and we strongly encouraged him to engage one rather than risking a default judgment, which is enforceable for 20 years and would cost him more money to vacate.
Not only did the client receive useful legal information regarding his case, but he also felt like his voice was finally heard. Volunteering with the pro bono clinic was a great experience, as I was able to learn so much about New York civil procedure rules and gain a lot of important legal experience from just one case. I look forward to continuing my volunteering experience to become an advocate to help those with limited resources and language skills.