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.
On May 5, 2023, the Society of Asian Federal Officers held its 32nd Annual Awards and Scholarship Banquet at Golden Unicorn Restaurant. AABANY Board Member, Won Shin, Chief of Appeals, U.S. Attorney’s Office, S.D.N.Y., was awarded Prosecutor of the Year. Charlie Lai and Jack Tchen, Founders of The Museum of Chinese in America (MoCA), received the Civilians of the Year award.
Pictured are (left to right): David Sohn, Karen Kim, Won Shin, Katherine Loanzon and David Chiang.
Congratulations to Won Shin on this well-deserved award and recognition! Click here to read AABANY’s press release on Won Shin being awarded Prosecutor of the Year by the Society of Asian Federal Officers.
On November 17, AABANY together with several other bar associations co-sponsored a program on “Becoming an AUSA,” hosted by Cleary Gottlieb at their New York office.
Joon Kim, former Acting United States Attorney of the Southern District of New York (SDNY) (and longtime AABANY member) gave opening remarks to welcome the standing room only crowd of more than 100 attendees. He reflected on his years serving with Preet Bharara and then succeeding him after his much-publicized termination during the prior Presidential administration. To this day, Joon remembers the gravity and weight of the words, “My name is Joon Kim, and I represent the United States” whenever he appeared before a judge or jury. The seriousness of representing the United States in numerous cases of public importance has never been lost on Joon. Now a Partner at Cleary, Joon was the first Asian American Acting United States Attorney in the Southern District, following Preet Bharara, who was the first Asian American United States Attorney in the Southern District.
Una Dean, former Assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and now in-house counsel at IBM, helped organize the program and moderated the opening panel with current United States Attorneys Damian Williams (SDNY) and Breon Peace (EDNY). Una was also a past AABANY Board member.
Both Breon and Damian spoke about their paths to the US Attorney’s office and their desire to work on matters that would have positive community impact. Both expressed the belief that the US Attorney’s office provides a unique opportunity to do just that. Breon talked about criminal investigations and prosecutions his office has been doing, including a case that helped prevent a potential terrorist attack at the US Open. His office prosecuted R. Kelly for human trafficking. They fight hate crimes and also work on affinity fraud cases which target vulnerable members from diverse ethnic and religious communities in New York. In criminal cases, his office actively seeks out alternatives to incarceration and diversion programs as ways to resolve criminal complaints, and also supports programs that facilitate re-entry into society for formerly incarcerated persons. On the civil side, EDNY pursues civil rights cases, fights housing discrimination and brings cases to protect the environment. His civil rights division has also been addressing claims about NYPD’s handling of sexual assault complaints from survivors.
Damian, after being trained at a prominent law firm, believed that, for his further development as a litigator and trial lawyer, the US Attorney’s office was the next logical step. Damian has served in the SDNY for a decade and spoke about his time at the SDNY with great passion and fondness, and his love for the work is palpable. “It is the best job in the world, and the best job I can ever hope to have,” he declared. Assistant US Attorneys fight bullies, he noted, and he relishes working in an environment where everyone is dedicated to doing the right thing, serving the public interest.
Una asked both Damian and Breon what qualities they look for in candidates for their offices. Damian answered that they are looking for good, decent, human beings – “no sharp elbows” – who are team oriented. In other words, they don’t want any jerks. (He used a stronger word, but you know what he means.) Candidates should be good writers who are smart, can think on their feet and exercise good judgment. They must have a strong moral compass, a sense of right and wrong, because so much authority is delegated to junior attorneys at his office, and they must be “doing the right thing, the right way – always.” Candidates need to have a tremendous amount of energy, because they will be working hard. If you are looking for a lifestyle change or money, Damian advised, working at the US Attorney’s Office may not be right for you.
Breon agreed with Damian and added that for him, any candidate that has a win-at-all-costs mentality raises a major red flag. He believes in doing justice, and that means at times, his office may have to decline cases or admit error. A candidate that rushes to judgment would not work out. He also looks for attorneys with the courage to tell investigators or judges that the evidence is not there to bring a case or to prosecute a defendant.
Una then talked about the reason why she put this program together, noting that during her time at EDNY, the composition of the office did not reflect the makeup of the community they served. Breon responded that “it is incredibly important that the [EDNY] is a reflection of the community.” He wants people of diverse backgrounds and experiences in his office to help solve problems, because “diversity is critical to getting the work done.” To promote diversity, EDNY has made changes to make hiring more diverse and inclusive, such as by making the process more transparent, has implemented a mentoring program for all new AUSAs and has sponsored trainings through the Diversity Committee.
Damian pointed out that he is the first African American US Attorney at SDNY and acknowledged that diversity is a challenge that needs to be addressed. He believes that outcomes are better when there are diverse views on the team. He also offered that the jury box will look like New York, so the government table should try to look like New York as well. Damian emphasized that politics has no role to play in the US Attorney’s office, no matter who the sitting President happens to be. He shared that Justice Sotomayor, at the start of her career was an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, and in a recent speech, she stated that she became a prosecutor because “it gave her the broadest option to do justice.” Damian agrees with that view.
Breon and Damian both closed by extolling the virtues of public service, particularly at the US Attorney’s office. Damian finds it hard to leave his desk each night because of all the great cases he gets to work on. “When I go home at night,” Breon declared, “I feel like I’ve done something good for the community.”
After Damian and Breon spoke, the program shifted to a panel of attorneys of color from both SDNY and EDNY, in both criminal and civil divisions, moderated by former AUSA Maria Cruz Melendez, now a Partner at Skadden. The panel included:
·Sagar Ravi, Assistant U.S. Attorney & Co-Chief, Complex Frauds & Cybercrime Unit, SDNY
·Rebecca Tinio, Assistant U.S. Attorney & Co-Chief, Civil Frauds Unit, SDNY
·Hiral Mehta, Assistant U.S. Attorney & Deputy Chief, Business and Securities Fraud Section, EDNY
·Marietou Diouf, Assistant U.S. Attorney, International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section, EDNY
·Camille Fletcher, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Narcotics Unit, SDNY
·Dara Olds, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Civil Division, EDNY
·Ivory Bishop, Assistant U.S. Attorney, General Crimes, EDNY
All the panelists echoed the passion of Damian and Breon in their love of their work and the weight accorded to representing the United States in court on important cases of great public interest, in both criminal and civil matters.
Hiral Mehta (EDNY) spoke about the proactive nature of the office and the flat structure. There is no hierarchy, and everyone’s input is sought. Ivory Bishop (SDNY) talked about getting to work on all types of cases, from street crimes to public corruption.
Rebecca Tinio (SDNY) mentioned that her cases were great for training, because they go to trial. Her unit works on high stakes cases, such as the tax and bankruptcy case involving Purdue Pharma, the anti-kickback cases involving Novartis, and groundbreaking cases involving the Clean Air Act.
Maria asked the panel what role diversity plays in the cases that the offices see. The panelists gave examples from cases they worked on, in which their own diverse backgrounds and experiences allowed them to connect with and relate to the witnesses in the case, ultimately leading to successful outcomes.
Maria asked the panel to address the hiring process. Dara Olds (EDNY) stated that her office has separate criminal and civil tracks. Rebecca (SDNY) explained that her office has one unified process for all applicants. Both offices have initial interviews, some conducted by those on the panel. Both offices request writing samples, which are reviewed to determine whether a candidate will advance. If the candidate gets through the first round, they are interviewed by more senior AUSAs, including section chiefs. The final round would involve the US Attorney and their executive staff.
Sagar Ravi (SDNY) stated that they are always accepting applications, and Hiral (EDNY) confirmed the same for his office, except during times when a hiring freeze is in place. Currently, there is none so right now “the doors are open.”
What if an applicant thinks that they do not have the right credentials to apply? Dara (EDNY) noted that the US Attorney’s office does not accept applicants straight from law school and encouraged everyone who has obtained several years of experience to apply, regardless of whether they are applying from a large firm or if they had clerked for a judge. Camille Fletcher (SDNY) advised that even if you don’t get called for an interview the first time, you should try again.
After the panels were done, all the attendees stayed for a reception with food and drinks generously provided by Cleary. Many of the panelists stayed to speak directly with the panelists and ask the questions they were not able to during the main program. The room was buzzing with lively conversations among prosecutors, attorneys, and law students in attendance.
Much thanks and appreciation go to all the speakers and moderators for the evening. Thanks to Una Dean for spearheading the event, to Cleary for being such a gracious host, and to all the co-sponsors:
·Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association
·Caribbean Attorneys Network
·Dominican Bar Association
·Hispanic National Bar Association – Region II
·Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York
On February 3, AABANY co-sponsored the SDNY Chapter of the Federal Bar Association’s third edition of the Talking with Trailblazers series. The series presents conversations with legal professionals who were the first to break representational ceilings in their field. The February 3 edition featured the first Federal judges of Asian descent in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. The panelists, all AABANY members, were:
Hon. Ona T. Wang, the first Asian-American Magistrate Judge in the SDNY.
Hon. Diane Gujarati (EDNY), the first Indian-American to serve as an Article III judge in New York.
Hon. Sanket Bulsara (EDNY), the first Indian-American judge within the Second Circuit.
Attendees were welcomed to join both in-person at the offices of Dunnington Bartholow & Miller in midtown Manhattan and on Zoom. All three judges were present in person, surrounded by an audience of lawyers and law students. The moderator was Padmaja Chinta, who is a partner at Chinta & Fratangelo LLP and the SDNY Chapter’s Chief Diversity Officer.
The panelists discussed a variety of subjects, from how they started their careers to the impact of mentorship. The judges had joined the legal industry from unexpected backgrounds. For example, prior to attending law school, Judge Wang had first obtained a Ph.D. in Zoology from Duke University. The judges also discussed the challenges they faced climbing the upper rungs of their careers. Finally, the conversation closed with a reflection on how the judges’ experiences shape their philosophies and practices on the bench.
Following the moderated panel, attendees both in-person and virtual were eager to ask questions. The event was expected to end at 7:00 pm, but due to the number of questions and the liveliness of the discussion, it did not formally end until 7:30 pm. At closing, in-person attendees also took the opportunity to meet the judges and members of the SDNY Chapter of the Federal Bar Association.
Thanks to Judge Wang, Judge Gujarati, and Judge Bulsara for sharing their stories and their insights. Thanks also to the Federal Bar Association’s SDNY Chapter for organizing this series and including AABANY as a co-sponsor.
The Asian American Bar Association of New York (“AABANY”) congratulates Won S. Shin, AABANY Board Director, on his recent promotion from an Assistant United States Attorney to Chief of Appeals at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Criminal Division, Southern District of New York.
Before his promotion, Won S. Shin served as an Assistant United States Attorney at the same office. In that role, Mr. Shin oversaw briefing and argument in criminal appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and advised other prosecutors on legal issues arising in their investigations and prosecutions. He was previously a member of the office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit and is a recipient of the FinCEN Director’s Law Enforcement Award for Cyber Threats.
Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Shin was an Assistant Solicitor General at the New York State Attorney General’s Office, where he briefed and argued appeals on behalf of the state in the Second Circuit and New York state appellate courts. Before entering public service, he was a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, DC. He began his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Karen Nelson Moore of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Mr. Shin received his A.B., magna cum laude, in biochemical sciences from Harvard College, and his J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School.
Mr Shin’s dedication to public service and his record of leadership is well-known and appreciated by all of us at AABANY. Please join us in congratulating Mr. Shin on this well deserved promotion.
Preet Bharara starts from “first principles: Are we doing the right thing, and are we doing it for the right reasons?” – Joon Kim, Acting US Attorney, SDNY.
At the 2015 AABANY Annual Dinner, Charting New Frontiers, we presented the Public Service Leadership Award to Preet Bharara, for his extensive and well-known dedication and commitment to public service as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and in the many years before then. In accepting the award, Preet gave a moving and inspiring speech filled with good humor and the spirit of pride and professionalism in public interest and public service that has characterized his distinguished and storied career. Our usually raucous crowd listened in rapt silence for the entire length of his remarks and rose up in an enthusiastic standing ovation at their conclusion.
Preet, thank you for your leadership and your service, for Charting New Frontiers, for daring to Speak Up, Rise Up and Lift Up, and for serving as an exemplary role model as we seek to Take Charge, Lead Change in the coming weeks and months.
U.S. District Court Judge Lorna G. Schofield, New York City In a four-minute, first-person video, U.S. District Court Judge Lorna G. Schofield, New York City, tells her story of growing up the daughter of a Filipina war bride living in the Midwest. She worked hard to meet the high standards of excellence set by her mother. As a child, she had to adapt to long stays with other families when her mother was frequently hospitalized for treatment of a chronic illness. As a teen, she shouldered adult responsibilities. Judge Schofield’s message to young people: “You have to have faith in yourself that you can make a life that you want.”
Judge Schofield’s video is part of a series called Pathways to the Bench, produced by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. In the videos, judges talk about the personal, character-building challenges in their lives that prepared them to serve on the bench. Each judge has a motivational message for young people that adults find inspiring, as well.
Judge Schofield made history as the first Filipina American Article III judge in the United States.
The Pathways to the Bench series also created a video about the Hon. Denny Chin, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which is available from our blog here.
Thanks to Rebecca Fanning, National Outreach Manager for the Federal Courts, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, for sharing this video with us.
The Board of Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has adopted Local Civil Rule 83.10, which governs how certain 1983 cases against the City of New York are managed.
Initially a pilot program implemented in 2011, the goal of the Local Rule is to improve the administration of justice by standardizing discovery and the dates of production, resulting in more material being produced earlier in the process so as to aid in the required early mediation or settlement conference. The 1983 Plan is responsible for the settlement of 70% of Plan-eligible cases in the first six months after the filing of a complaint.
The Board of Judges extended the pilot program in 2013, and it adopted the plan into the courts Local Rules after soliciting public feedback on the program. The rule will become effective upon approval by the Second Circuit Judicial Council. Prior to the revised rule taking effect, the public is invited to comment. Comments are to be submitted in writing on or at the close of business on Friday, July 20, 2014 to:
Edward A. Friedland District Court Executive U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York 500 Pearl Street, Room 820 New York, NY 10007-1312
A complete version of the Plan and the codified Local Rule follows this notice and can be found at the court’s website at http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov.
SDNY BOARD OF JUDGES ADOPTS A SCHEDULE FOR THE PREPARATION OF PRE-SENTENCE INVESTIGATION REPORTS, EFFECTIVE JUNE 2
The Board of Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York have adopted a standing order that standardizes the timetable for the completion of Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) Reports. The new schedule takes effect June 2.
Highlights of the new schedule include:
On the day of a guilty plea or verdict, judges will direct defense counsel to promptly schedule a Pre-Sentence Interview of the defendant with the SDNY Probation Department;
The Probation Department will complete its Pre-Sentence Interview of the defendant within 28 days of the plea or verdict;
Within 14 days of the Probation Department’s initial disclosure of the Pre-Sentence Investigation Report, the parties must provide the Probation Department with objections.
Please see the standing order that is attached to this notice for a complete schedule.
“The court’s new schedule for Pre-Sentence Investigation Report ensures that defendants can be sentenced no later than 90 days after a guilty plea or the delivery of a guilty verdict,” said Chief Judge Loretta A. Preska. “It improves efficiency, provides some flexibility in scheduling sentencings, and reduces the number of sentencing adjournments—it’s a win-win for all parties.”