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

August 3, 2012

NAPABA Contact: Emily Chatterjee (202) 775-9555
AAJC Contact: Leonie Campbell-Williams (443) 803-1465


WASHINGTON - Yesterday, President Obama nominated Pamela Ki Mai Chen to a seat on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. If confirmed, she will be only the second Chinese American woman to ever serve as an Article III judge in American history, and one of only a small number of openly lesbian judges in the federal judiciary.

"NAPABA is proud to support the nomination of Pamela Chen to serve as a federal district court judge on the Eastern District of New York," said Nimesh M. Patel, president of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). "She is a long-standing public servant who will bring a wealth of experience and diversity to the federal bench in New York. We thank both President Obama and Senator Schumer for nominating Ms. Chen to this distinguished court."

Chen has a long history of public service. She currently serves as the Chief of the Civil Rights Section at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, where she specializes in the investigation and prosecution of criminal civil rights matters, including human trafficking. She has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in that office since 1998 in various capacities. Chen also served as the Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement at New York State's Division for Human Rights in 2008. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney's Office, Chen was a trial attorney in the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division at the United States Department of Justice, and before that, was in private practice first at Arnold & Porter and then at Asbill, Junkin, Myers & Buffone. Chen received her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center and her B.A. in from the University of Michigan.

"We applaud President Obama and Senator Schumer for supporting a nominee who has devoted much of her career to enforcing civil rights laws. If confirmed, she would bring different experiences that would be tremendously valuable to the Eastern District of New York," said Mee Moua, president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. "Pamela Chen has the experience, intellect, and temperament to be an excellent federal judge."

Asian Pacific Americans are significantly underrepresented in the federal judiciary. In the New York City area, approximately ten percent of the population is Asian Pacific American. However, of the over 90 active and senior Article III judges currently serving the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, none are Asian Pacific American in the Southern District and only one is Asian Pacific American in the Eastern District.


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 64 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 (www.advancingequality.org), a member of Asian American Center for Advancing Justice, works closely with its affiliate organizations - the Asian American Institute in Chicago (www.aaichicago.org), the Asian Law Caucus (www.asianlawcaucus.org) in San Francisco and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center (www.apalc.org) in Los Angeles - to promote a fair and equitable society for all by working for civil and human rights and empowering Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities.


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