Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vietnamese Refugee Nominated to Federal Bench

NAPABA and AAJC Applaud Nomination of Judge Jacqueline Nguyen as Federal District Court Judge for the Central District of California

Washington, DC - The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) celebrate the nomination of the Honorable Jacqueline Nguyen for United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the Central District of California.  If confirmed, Judge Nguyen would be the nation's first-ever Vietnamese American to serve as an Article III judge. She would also become the third-ever Asian Pacific American female Article III judge in United States history, and the first-ever Asian Pacific American woman to serve as an Article III judge in California.

"Judge Nguyen's nomination is a promising start for the Obama Administration and is extremely significant for the Asian Pacific American community," said Andrew T. Hahn, Sr., President of NAPABA.  "Given that Asian Pacific Americans represent 15% of California's population and less than 7% of the state's Article III judges, the community is long overdue for increased representation at this level. Judge Nguyen is an extremely well-qualified jurist who is uniquely positioned for this important nomination."

There are currently no active Asian Pacific American federal appellate court judges, and of the approximately 850 federal judges nationwide, less than 1% are Asian Pacific American.

AAJC President Karen Narasaki noted, "We are very excited at the significant number of Asian Pacific American attorneys who, like Judge Nguyen, are extremely well qualified to be nominated to federal judgeships.  We believe the President is committed to improving the diversity reflected in the judiciary and are very hopeful that we will see many more Asian Pacific Americans being nominated over the next several months."

NAPABA and AAJC have been working with the Senate and the Obama Administration to identify potential nominees.  NAPABA and its affiliates - local Asian Pacific American bar associations throughout the country - have been working to ensure that Asian Pacific American attorneys are represented on the selection committees who are making recommendations to the Senators who are nominating candidates for the District Court and vetting potential candidates for NAPABA to recommend to the President. NAPABA also screens and supports qualified candidates, and works toward getting state Senators to recommend Asian Pacific American candidates and getting the White House to nominate them.  AAJC has been working in a broad coalition of civil rights and other progressive groups to advocate for increasing the number of Asian Pacific American, women and other underrepresented groups on the federal bench.

Judge Nguyen's courageous life story epitomizes the American Dream. For the past seven years, Judge Nguyen has served as a Judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court.  Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Nguyen served for six years as an Assistant United States Attorney with the Criminal Division, and ultimately as the Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Section.  As a child, she escaped the fall of South Vietnam with her family through a harrowing trip, starting with a plane ride temporarily separating her from her father, through chaotic Saigon, to the Philippines, to Guam, and eventually, to Camp Pendleton, California. Judge Nguyen embraced her new life in America with grace, fortitude, determination, and cheerful modesty, assisting her mother in cleaning dental offices while growing up. She eventually earned a scholarship to Occidental College before attending the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law,! continuing all the while to help her mother in the family donut shop on the weekends.

NAPABA and AAJC join in thanking President Obama for nominating Judge Nguyen, and Senator Dianne Feinstein for recommending Judge Nguyen to the President. 


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