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Click here to download a PDF copy of the press release.


NAPABA Contact: Brian Wang (202) 775-9555

January 20, 2010

AAJC Contact: Vincent Eng (202) 296-2300
(703) 981-6636 (mobile)


WASHINGTON – Today, The Honorable Edward M. Chen and The Honorable Lucy H. Koh were nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

“Judge Chen and Judge Koh are committed members of the legal community with strong reputations for fairness, impartiality and integrity,” said Joseph J. Centeno, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. “Both nominees are outstanding choices to be the first Asian Pacific American Article III Judges in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley.”

If confirmed by the Senate as Article III federal judges, Judge Chen and Judge Koh would serve lifetime appointments. Judge Chen was originally nominated on Aug. 7, 2009 and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved him Oct. 15, 2009. His nomination, and others, was not acted upon before the full Senate recessed. This caused the nomination to be returned, per Senate rules.

Judge Chen has served more than eight years as a U.S. magistrate judge and is strongly supported by law enforcement officials, former prosecutors and multiple bar associations. The American Bar Association and the Bar Association of San Francisco have both given Judge Chen their highest rankings. Centeno noted that “since his Judiciary Committee vote in September, Republicans and Democrats alike have spoken out even more strongly in support of Judge Chen and have noted how his confirmation would strengthen the judiciary.”

Judge Koh was appointed to the Santa Clara County Superior Court in January 2008 by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Prior, she was an intellectual property and commercial litigator in Silicon Valley for more than eight years. She began her legal career in the public sector, serving as an assistant U. S. attorney in Los Angeles in the major frauds section and in several positions at Justice Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. If confirmed, she will be the first female Korean American Article III judge.

“With 35 percent of the San Francisco Bay Area population being of Asian American descent, the absence of an Asian American Article III judge is appalling,” said Karen Narasaki, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center. “This is especially significant because many infamous cases affecting Asian Americans – including U.S. v. Korematsu and Yick Wo v. Hopkins – were first decided by this court.”

Centeno and Narasaki congratulate both Judges upon their historic nominations and thank President Obama and California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein for nominating them.


The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and 62 local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members represent solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes professional development of minorities in the legal profession.

The Asian American Justice Center is a national organization dedicated to defending and advancing the civil and human rights of Asian Americans. It works closely with three affiliates – the Asian American Institute in Chicago, the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in Los Angeles – and nearly 100 community partners in 47 cities, 25 states and the District of Columbia.


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