Hon. Jeffrey K. Oing Interviewed on Amici Podcast for AAPI Heritage Month

To celebrate AAPI Heritage Month this May, Hon. Jeffrey K. Oing, Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, First Department, in Manhattan, was interviewed by John Caher, on Amici, a podcast series which features interviews with judges from the New York State court system. In a program titled, “Promoting Diversity in the Courts,” Justice Oing shared his experiences as an immigrant who grew up with his family in New York City and rose through the ranks in the legal profession to the point where he was being considered for the role of Chief Justice of the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court.

Born in Hong Kong until he was four and raised in East Harlem once his parents immigrated to the States, Justice Oing felt fortunate to have never felt like an outsider. Although his parents were not adamant on preserving his Chinese identity, he did not feel disconnected from his culture because of the large Shanghainese community that surrounded him.

During his adolescence, Justice Oing utilized what he recognized as his “gift of gab,” which is a fun way of saying that he loved to talk with people and get to know them. He uses this skill to this day, stating, “Every time I’m in a room with new people, I’m always interested to learn about them because they can read about me, they know about me but I’m really interested about them. I want to know what their story is.” 

Justice Oing began his career never thinking about being a judge, even after clerking for a Chief Justice in New Jersey Supreme Court. It wasn’t until he started working at New York State Supreme Court at 60 Centre Street and served as a court attorney where he helped draft decisions for judges that he discovered being a judge is what he wanted to do. He describes this eye-opening experience, saying, “I got the job and it was nirvana.”

As there weren’t many Asians running for judge in 2000, he stuck out. Everyone knew his name and eventually he was elected as the fourth judge of Chinese descent in New York County. In 2010, he was elected to New York State Supreme Court, being the third of Chinese descent to serve in New York County.

His representation in the court was pioneering, especially as Asian representation in the law was not common. He hones in on this point, calling out the stereotypical belief that Asians can’t be leaders or are not viewed as having a management capability. He says, “we’re viewed as the … hard-working person and less as a person who can run or manage a company. And it’s sort of the docile image that we have.” Being in his role as a judge and meeting other Asian judges with the same ambition to make strides gave him hope for a future with more Asian representation on the bench. 

Justice Oing expressed his passion for diversity and inclusion with his involvement in the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission and the Chinese American Planning Council. Within the Franklin H. Williams Judicial Commission, he supports their efforts in promoting racial and ethnic fairness to everyone in the court system. As a member of the Chinese American Planning Council, he focuses on services that provide language access to support Asian community needs. “We want to ensure that all people, all the folks who come to our services, get that assistance that they need,” he explained. “So language is a big deal for me, just because of who I am.” 

Justice Oing ends his discussion by recognizing that many immigrant parents have the same goal as native-born Americans: a better life. He perfectly wraps up the conversation by observing, “The pie is pretty big. We all don’t need to have the largest slice, but if everybody can get a slice, I think that will be a good thing.”

Listen here to the full podcast which contains surprising facts about Justice Oing, plus an important announcement: https://soundcloud.com/user-716357085/promoting-diversity-in-the-courts-hon-jeffrey-k-oing/s-cNg2rCXMtv5?si=b6323f1fbc7a47599a252dbc803bc512&utm_source=clipboard&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=social_sharing

All Rise! An Appeal for Moot Court Judges

The ABA Law Student Division would like to invite you to judge the National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC) in Brooklyn on February 22-24, 2024, at the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

Register Here

You be the judge, literally!
Spend a few hours as a Supreme Court Justice without the confirmation hearings! All rounds take place in a courtroom and robes are provided for all competition judges.

Give back and mentor law students
This opportunity will fulfill your need to impart wisdom onto the next generation of lawyers. We are looking for lawyers and judges to sit on the Supreme Court to hear oral arguments and provide feedback on the advocacy skills of each team.

CLE Information
Attorneys acting as judges in moot court competitions may self-report their participation to claim CLE credit. Rules, calculations, and limits vary by state.

Make a day of it. Sign up for one, two, or more rounds. Or invite your colleagues and register as a group. Register Here

The rounds are scheduled as follows:
Round 1: Thursday, February 22 (3:30 pm-7:45 pm)
Round 2: Friday, February 23 (3:30 pm-7:45 pm)
Round 3: Saturday, February 24 (8:30 am-12:45 pm)
Round 4: Saturday, February 24 (1:00 pm-3:30 pm)
Round 5: Saturday, February 24 (3:30 pm-6:00 pm)

For your colleagues across the country, there are also regionals in Boston, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco!

Direct any questions to:

Erica M. Zepeda
American Bar Association
Program Manager, Early Career Strategy
Law Student Division
321 N. Clark, Chicago, IL  60654
T: 312.988.5671
[email protected]

NAPABA Applauds the Nominations of Amir H. Ali, Judge Sunil R. Harjani, and Jasmine H. Yoon to the U.S. District Court

For Immediate Release: 
Date: January 10, 2024 
ContactRahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director for Policy 

WASHINGTON – Today, President Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate Amir H. Ali to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Judge Sunil R. Harjani to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and Jasmine Yoon to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

“Amir H. Ali, Judge Sunil R. Harjani, and Jasmine H. Yoon are exceptionally well qualified to serve on our federal judiciary,” said Anna Mercado Clark, President of NAPABA. “Active in the AANHPI community, if confirmed, Ms. Yoon, a former board member of APABA-VA, would be the first Asian American to serve as an Article III judge in Virginia. A prominent member of the Chicago South Asian legal community, Judge Harjani was the first South Asian American to serve as a U.S. Magistrate in the Northern District of Illinois. Mr. Ali is an experienced civil rights litigator who has worked to elevate the voices of marginalized communities at the U.S. Supreme Court. NAPABA is proud to support these nominees.”

Amir H. Ali has been President and Executive Director of the MacArthur Justice Center since 2021 and Director of the Criminal Justice Appellate Clinic at Harvard Law School since 2018. Previously, Mr. Ali worked in private practice as an associate at Jenner & Block LLP in Washington, DC, from 2013-17. He also served as a law clerk for Justice Marshall Rothstein on the Supreme Court of Canada from 2012-13 and Judge Raymond C. Fisher on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit from 2011-12. Mr. Ali received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 2011 and his B.S.E. from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, in 2008.

Judge Sunil R. Harjani has been a United States Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Illinois since 2019. Judge Harjani served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Section in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois from 2008-19. He also practiced federal civil litigation as a senior counsel at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission from 2004-08 and as an associate at Jenner & Block LLP in Chicago from 2000-01 and 2002-04. Judge Harjani served as a law clerk for Judge Suzanne B. Conlon on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois from 2001-02. He received his J.D., cum laude, from Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law in 2000 and his B.A. from Northwestern University in 1997.

Jasmine H. Yoon has been the Vice President of Corporate Integrity, Ethics, and Investigations at Capital One Financial Corporation since 2022. Previously, Ms. Yoon worked as Interim University Counsel and Associate University Counsel at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville from 2019-22. Prior to that, Ms. Yoon served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia from 2010-16. Ms. Yoon was also an associate at Crowell & Moring LLP in Washington, DC, from 2006-09 in its White Collar and Regulatory Enforcement group. She served as a law clerk for Judge James C. Cacheris on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia from 2009-10. Ms. Yoon received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2006 and her B.A. from the University of Virginia in 2003.

NAPABA thanks Senators Durbin and Duckworth of Illinois, Senators Warner and Kaine of Virginia, and Delegate Norton of the District of Columbia for supporting their nominations.

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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 Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 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.

NAPABA Mourns the Passing of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

For Immediate Release: 
Date: December 1, 2023 
ContactRahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director for Policy 

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) mourns the passing of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, a trailblazer in our Nation and the first woman on the Supreme Court of the United States.

“For a generation, Justice O’Connor blazed the trail for those who thought that the highest pinnacle of the legal profession was unattainable,” said Anna Mercado Clark, President of NAPABA. “She proved that not only was it possible, but inevitable. During her tenure on the Court, she addressed the Nation’s most difficult issues and strived for consensus—a hallmark of her career both before and during her time on the Court. Even during her retirement, Justice O’Connor devoted her time to service and championed the cause of civic education—a cause that goes to the core of our democracy. On behalf of the entire NAPABA community, we send our heartfelt condolences to her family.”

Despite graduating near the top of her class at Stanford Law School, Justice O’Connor struggled to find a role within the profession and was initially offered a secretarial position. Steadily through the course of her life, she demonstrated the tenacity that led to her success. She started her legal career in public service in California and later in Arizona. She served in the Arizona Senate, becoming the first woman to ever serve as Majority Leader. Justice O’Connor then served on the Maricopa County Superior Court in 1974, ultimately being elevated to the Arizona Court of Appeals in 1979. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Justice O’Connor for the Supreme Court, and the United States Senate confirmed her nomination with a vote of 99-0. She retired from the Court in 2006.

NAPABA Disagrees with Eighth Circuit Decision Undermining Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965


For Immediate Release:
 
Date: November 27, 2023 
ContactRahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director for Policy 

WASHINGTON – Since 1965, our Nation relied on the promise of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. It prohibits state and local governments from advancing any election or voting standard that discriminates on the basis of race or color. For decades, private parties brought numerous enforcement actions under Section 2, which became a critical tool to realize Section 2’s fundamental guarantee of equal voting rights for all Americans. Even the Supreme Court of the United States, as it invalidated a separate part of the Act in Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013), recognized the ability of private parties to enforce Section 2 through litigation, observing not only that “individuals have sued to enforce [Section] 2,” but also that “Section 2 is permanent [and] applies nationwide.” And just this past term, in Allen v. Milligan, 599 U.S. _ (2023), the Supreme Court decided a Section 2 claim in favor of private litigants challenging Alabama’s congressional districting plan.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, however, seeks to chart a different course. On November 20, 2023, in a 2-1 decision that disregards decades of precedent, the court held in Arkansas State Conference NAACP v. Arkansas Board of Apportionment that private parties may not bring enforcement actions under Section 2. In its view, only the Attorney General of the United States may do so.

We disagree. Nothing in the plain text of Section 2 compels this result. Considering the long history of Section 2, coupled with Congress’s explicit countenance, the private enforcement mechanism is a central feature of Section 2’s protection of equal voting rights. The Eighth Circuit’s decision, which comes less than a year before the 2024 presidential election, risks upending widespread reliance on a core protection of the Act. If left intact, it leaves any vindication of Section 2 rights to the sole discretion of one government official rather than with the voters themselves.

While this litigation continues, NAPABA continues to call on Congress to strengthen the Voting Rights Act by restoring the Act’s coverage in the aftermath of Shelby County, maximizing the full protections for all eligible Americans to vote, and prohibiting voter suppression efforts that impact the Asian American community along with other communities of color.

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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 Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 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.

NAPABA Statement on the U.S. Supreme Court’s Affirmative Action Decision

For Immediate Release: Date: June 29, 2023

Contact: Rahat N. Babar, Deputy Executive Director for Policy

WASHINGTON – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) is disappointed in the United States Supreme Court’s decision today in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, which held that the consideration of race, as one factor among many in a holistic college admissions process, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. With colleges and universities acting as incubators for the future leaders of the Nation, the decision now places an obstacle to achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion in the pipelines of leadership.

As detailed in A Portrait of Asian Americans in the Law 2.0: Identity and Action in Challenging Times (Portrait Project 2.0) published by the American Bar Foundation and NAPABA, we know that though the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community has seen progress in some areas, underrepresentation of our community in the top ranks of the legal profession persists. Portrait Project 2.0, along with NAPABA’s amicus brief with the Court, highlighted the continuing need to advance diversity efforts in the legal profession, where the AANHPI community, along with all communities of color, struggle to achieve success.

At bottom, the Court’s decision today places an impediment to efforts to diversify the legal pipeline at its early stages, the college admissions process. Despite the ruling, NAPABA remains committed to its long-standing values. Whether advancing our leadership and mentorship programs, working with the private sector, government, and public interest stakeholders, or through our partnership with the law student community, NAPABA remains acutely focused to ensure that the profession and leadership reflect the communities that they serve and that the AANHPI community is meaningfully represented.

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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 Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 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

AABANY Co-Sponsors Inaugural Hon. Randall T. Eng Award Program

AABANY co-sponsored the Inaugural Hon. Randall T. Eng Award Program on May 31, 2023, organized by and held at the Appellate Division, Second Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.

Congratulations to Hon. Randall T. Eng, Retired Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department for this award named in recognition of his tremendous and trailblazing career and impact on the AAPI community. 

Congratulations to Congresswoman Grace Meng, 6th Congressional District. As the first and only Asian American Member of Congress from New York State, it is only fitting that she is the first recipient of the Hon. Randall T. Eng award. Congresswoman Meng’s advocacy for the AAPI community is impactful and far-reaching and AABANY applauds her tremendous work and service, including her work towards the creation of a national museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture. 

Congratulations to Presiding Justice Hector D. LaSalle and the Appellate Division, Second Department with the successful launch of the Hon. Randall T. Eng Award Program. 

The Program included remarks from:

Hon. Lara J. Genovesi, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department

Hon. Hector D. LaSalle, Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department

Letitia James, New York State Attorney General

Melinda Katz, District Attorney of Queens

Hon. Lillian Wan, Associate Justice, Appellate Division, Second Department

Karen Kim, President, AABANY

Chief Judge Hon. Rowan D. Wilson was also in attendance, as well as the distinguished judges of the Appellate Division, Second Department, and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. We would also like to extend our appreciation to the Associate Judges of the Court of Appeals, Hon. Madeline Singas, Michael Garcia, and Anthony Cannataro, for their attendance.

It was a privilege to collaborate with the Hon. Lillian Wan and the co-sponsoring bar associations: KALAGNY, FALANY, SABANY, MUBANY, and SAICBAQ. This event provided a meaningful and memorable way to celebrate and close out AAPI Heritage Month.

Franklin H. Williams Presents: “Empowered Asian American Leadership” AAPI Heritage Month Program at 60 Centre Street

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

Hon. Raja Rajeswari – Chair, NYC Criminal Court Equal Justice Committee; Chair,

NYS Unified Court System Advisory Committee on Language Access

Hon. Toko Serita– Statewide Coordinating Judge for Problem-Solving Courts, NYS Unified

Court System, and AABANY member

“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

Member Profile: Karen King Wins Unanimous Victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in Domestic Violence and International Custody Dispute Case

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On March 22, 2022, AABANY member Karen King argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in Golan v. Saada (20-1034), a case involving the interpretation of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction. Karen is a Partner at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello, Co-Chair of AABANY’s Pro Bono and Community Service Committee, and an active member of AABANY’s Anti-Asian Violence Task Force. She sat down with AABANY to share reflections on the oral argument, diversity among litigators, and the importance of pro bono work. 

Looking back, the law was a natural career choice for Karen.  She was president of the debate team in high school as well as at Yale University, where she majored in philosophy and political science.  After receiving her J.D. from Harvard Law School, she moved to New York and began her career at Cravath.  Two decades later, she appears regularly in federal and state courts on behalf of corporate clients, she was named a “Notable Woman in Law” by Crain’s New York Business, and she received both the Federal Bar Council’s Thurgood Marshall Award for Exceptional Pro Bono Service and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)’s Pro Bono award.  Her pro bono clients include victims of discrimination, survivors of domestic violence, students with learning disabilities, victims of gun violence, and prisoners on civil rights issues. 

Karen’s impressive career reached another milestone this year when she had her first argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in Golan v. Saada . She represents Narkis Golan, an American citizen and survivor of domestic violence, and mother to a young child who was born in Italy.  The case has been pending for nearly four years and was accepted by the Supreme Court for argument last December to resolve a circuit split on whether district courts are required to consider ameliorative measures to facilitate return of a child to a foreign country, even after finding that return would subject the child to a “grave risk” of exposure to harm.

During oral argument, the justices were active in their questioning and seemed interested in how best to address situations where the grave risk is sourced to a complex problem like domestic violence.  “Am I correct that the vast majority of these grave risk cases are ones involving domestic violence?” asked Justice Barrett, who continued to say: “It just seems to me that that’s a much different case for ameliorative measures than, say, the nuclear plant next door that the Chief posited at the outset.  That would be a pretty straightforward move, and then there would be no more grave risk, whereas I think you get into the complexity of the financial support payments and the undertaking or restraining order, however it should be categorized, in these domestic abuse cases that pose maybe a unique circumstance?”  The recording of oral argument is available here

When asked whether she expected at the outset that this case would reach the U.S. Supreme Court, Karen replied that she did not. She added that, at the start of the case in 2018, “we were hopeful that it would end at the trial level.” But despite establishing, by clear and convincing evidence, that return to Italy would expose the child to a grave risk of harm, the case went back and forth to the Second Circuit on the question of appropriate ameliorative measures.  Ultimately, Karen and the team came to believe that the interpretation of the Hague Convention set forth by the Second Circuit required review by the Supreme Court.  Despite the extraordinarily slim odds of having a case accepted for argument, the Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to weigh in on the cert petition and ultimately granted cert. 

Arguing before the Supreme Court is the dream of many litigators. Karen prepared through “lots of moots [i.e., practice sessions], testing answers to every conceivable question we could think of, and reflection and discussion of the issues with colleagues, co-counsel, and pretty much anyone willing to talk about it.” In terms of approach to oral argument, she felt she needed to get straight to the point and anticipate challenging questions from the Justices about the key legal issues. Although the preparation process was similar to what she has done for other appellate arguments, it was clearly “more nerve-wracking, more high profile, and more work.”  She credits having an amazing team supporting her at Morvillo, the incredible work of the Paul, Weiss team (her former firm and co-counsel throughout the case), and the lawyers at the Zashin firm (co-counsel at the Supreme Court merits stage).  Although the oral argument was in person, it was not open to the public because of COVID-19 restrictions.  Karen was accompanied only by co-counsel Dan Levi from Paul, Weiss on the big day.  

At the Supreme Court argument, the Solicitor General’s office was represented by Frederick Liu, and the Respondent Jacky Saada was represented by Richard Min, a family law attorney in New York.  It is believed that this was the first time all three advocates arguing a case before the Supreme Court were of AAPI descent. This is a remarkable moment for the AAPI community, and for AAPI litigators.  Karen recognizes that it was important to “push [herself] to create the moment” and not to “be intimidated by milestones.” 

Karen is a strong advocate for diversity in the courtroom and in law firms.  She advises young litigators to strengthen their courtroom skills and give back to the community through pro bono work.  Karen has been recognized for her pro bono commitment over the years and generally works on one or two ongoing pro bono matters on top of her regular workload. Reflecting on her career thus far, Karen sees her persistence, optimism, and creative thinking, as survival skills that have led to great opportunities.  “You just have to push through… . Keep you head up and keep moving toward your goals.  Don’t let the machine crush you.” 

Oral argument in Golan v. Saada (20-1034) by Todd Crespi

Karen King, Richard Min, and Fred Liu, who argued Golan v. Saada (20-1034)

AABANY Congratulates the Newly-Elected AAJANY Board

AABANY applauds Judge Shababudeen Ally and Justice Ushir Pandit-Durant’s election on February 15 as President and Vice-President of the Asian American Judges Association of New York (AAJANY). Both Judge Ally and Justice Pandit-Durant are AABANY members.

Judge Ally is a Supervising Judge of the Civil Court in New York County. He became the first Muslim male elected to New York City Civil Court in 2018 and the first South Asian Supervising Judge in 2020. Judge Ally began his legal career as a staff attorney with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. Judge Ally then went to work for the NYC Law Department as an Assistant Corporation Counsel. For a decade prior to his time on the bench, Judge Ally operated his own law practice specializing in family and criminal law.

Judge Pandit-Durant is a Justice of the Queens County Supreme Court. Judge Pandit-Durant became the first South Asian judge elected to New York State Supreme Court in Queens and the first South Asian woman judge elected in New York State in 2018. Judge Pandit-Duran began her career as a Prosecutor in the Queens County District Attorney’s Office, serving there with distinction for 25 years before being elected to New York City Civil Court in 2015, becoming the first South Asian to hold that elected office.

On March 2, in an article entitled “Asian American judicial org. works to diversify bench,” the Queens Eagle wrote Asian judges are the “least represented racial or ethnic group on the bench,” making up 6 percent of Queens’s judiciary. In the Queens’s Family Court, “there is only one Asian judge and there are no Asian American judges in the Borough’s housing Court.” In comparison, “White judges account for around 66 percent, 17 percent of judges are Latino and 17 percent are Black,” according to the Office of Court Administration data cited by the Queens Eagle.

This lack of AAPI judicial representation is further exacerbated by the overall increase of Queens’s total population. Data cited by the Queens Eagle indicates that Asian Americans account for the largest population growth of 29 percent in Queens, “outpacing the borough’s overall 7.8 percent growth.”

Judge Ally told the Queens Eagle that though there is a lot of work left to be done, diversity efforts on the bench appear to be headed in the right direction. AAJANY’s board includes three other AAPI judges from Queens: Queens Civil Court Judge Changyong Li is the secretary, recently-elected Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term Judge Karen Gopee is the treasurer and Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term Judge Francis Wang is now a member of the Board of Directors. AAJANY’s Board of Directors also includes Hon. Lillian Wan, Hon. Meredith Vacca, Hon. Karen M.C. Cortes, and Hon. Shorab Ibrahim.

To read more about the AAJANY election, please click here.

Congratulations to Judge Ally, Justice Durant, and all the newly-elected Board members of AAJANY. Thank you for all you do to represent the AAPI community and to enhance diversity and inclusion on the bench.