Congratulations to the Honorable Doris Ling-Cohan Upon Her Re-Election to the New York Supreme Court
Earlier, the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY) expressed its disappointment with a September 1, 2016 New York Post article reporting on the alleged results of a judicial screening panel. The article reported that Justice Doris Ling-Cohan had not been approved to run on the Democratic ticket for New York Supreme Court. KALAGNY stood behind Justice Doris Ling-Cohan and urged the Democratic Party to re-form a new panel to re-evaluate the Justice’s qualifications for serving on the Court. In response to the unprecedented event and highly negative press leakage, we acted quickly to ensure a fair of review of Justice Ling-Cohan's application to the screening panel of the Manhattan Democrats. Over a number of days, we urged the Democratic Party to re-evaluate the Justice’s qualifications for serving on the Court through a series of correspondences and phone calls.
The Manhattan Democrats' Judiciary Committee ultimately declined to endorse an amended report issued by the screening panel on September 18, 2016. But with the support of the community, Justice Ling Cohan was nominated to run unopposed on the Democratic ticket on September 22, 2016. The Justice was re-elected to the New York Supreme Court. We thank the Manhattan Democrats, Hon. Keith Wright, and the screening panel for their service.
Some of our advocacy efforts included some of the following:
We issued a press release on September 2, 2016 requesting that the New York County Democratic Committee re-convene a new panel to review Justice Ling-Cohan's application. See one of our press releases here.
On Tuesday, September 6, 2016, we, with the support of a number of other concerned bar organizations and legal groups, attended a press conference organized by City Council members Margaret S. Chin and Rosie Mendez. See the press advisory about the press conference here.
On September 7, 2016 letter to Assemblyman Keith Wright, the Chair of the New York County Democratic Committee, requesting a panel reconsideration is here (content of the attachments are at the links below). We continued to transmit other correspondence to the Assemblyman Keith Wright.
"At City Hall Rally, Outcry of Support for Manhattan Judge." (Link.)
"Democratic base rails against party pols for barring 'lazy' judge," New York Post (Link.)
"Questions about Manhattan, Brooklyn Party Judges Have Withdrawn Support from Judges," Progressive Queens. (Link.)
"Manhattan Dems Rejecting Justice Doris Ling-Cohan Sparks Outrage." (Link.)
"Democratic leader won't overturn decision to re-elect 'lazy' judge." (Link.)
"Judge wins re-election ballot battle after being barred." (Link.)
"After Supporter Backlash, Asian-American Justice to Be Considered for Nomination" (Link.)
"Manhattan Democrats Reportedly Reverse Decision To Oust Tenant-Friendly Judge." (Link.)
"Screening Panel Seeks Re-Vote on Ling-Cohan's Rating." (Link.)
"Panel Sources: Fellow Member Balked at Applying Legal Standard for Review of Ling-Cohan." (Link.)
"Asian Bar Wants Review Of 'Gay Marriage' Judge's Ouster." (Link.)
How can you help?
A listing of the judge's notable cases is here.
Find her CV here.
Click here for bullet points of the Justice's track record from the judge.
Read articles featuring Justice Ling-Cohan.
Questions about Justice Doris Ling-Cohan's judicial record can be directed to the Office of Court Administration (OCA). The Communications Office of the OCA serves as the spokesperson for the court system. For further information or assistance, call: Lucien Chalfen from OCA's Press Office at 212-428-2500 or e-mail communicationsoffice[@]nycourts.gov.
We further urge the public to send support letters or e-mails requesting a new panel to screen the judge to Assemblyman Keith Wright, who is the County Leader of the New York County Democratic Committee. Assemblyman Wright’s mailing address and e-mail address are below.
New York County Democratic Committee
Join the sign-on letter from National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance.
In addition, please help spread word about the current situation to your friends and to the media. Send links to our press release and to our website out by email and through social media (click directly on the social media links on our press release).
Quotes from Bar Leaders, Legal Organizations, and Lawyers
"KALAGNY requests reconsideration of the panel's decision. We must take special care to protect sitting judges, such as Justice Ling-Cohan, from the political consequences of making unpopular decisions. Judicial independence is a critical key to maintaining a free and open society, and faith in our legal system. Justice Ling-Cohan has a prolific track record, with wide-ranging decisions, some of which cover difficult and sensitive topics such as marriage equality, due process, discrimination, FOIL, labor and land use issues. (http://goo.gl/fdx0Jf) I am tremendously saddened to see that certain unsubstantiated claims, which should have been vetted by New York's Office of Court Administration, could create an arbitrary decision which would become an embarrassing black mark in our history. For many, this could result in the loss of a beloved hero who has spent a lifetime fighting for the interests of the underdog."
"I am personally shocked to hear that the NY democratic committee would not endorse Justice Ling-Cohan for reelection. This is devastating news for the Asian American legal community as the she has been a trailblazer and a great mentor to many young attorneys. Justice Ling-Cohan is the only female appellate judge of Asian descent. I call upon the NY democratic committee to review its procedures and the process in which Justice Ling-Cohan's credentials were evaluated. She is an esteemed judge with a good record who deserves respect, fairness, and due process throughout this difficult time."
"We cannot have a democracy without an independent judiciary. Judicial independence is eroded when special interests, government or media attempt to influence, or punish judges for their legal, discretionary acts on the bench ... Ending the career of a long-time justice whose life has been dedicated to the public sector,not only deprives the public of her service but has a chilling effect on all other judges and potential judges. Judges must do what is right, acting within the law, without fearing that saving a litigant's home, or displeasing a lawyer or segment of the bar, or employing innovative procedures will result in her removal from the bench. Removing Justice Doris Ling-Cohan would be a disgraceful loss, a travesty based on sound and fury signifying nothing but the destruction of judicial independence."
"AALDEF filed an amicus brief a decade ago in the U.S. Supreme Court in New York State Board of Elections v. Margarita Lopez-Torres, which challenged the judicial convention process in what we called "a closed back-door system built on cronyism and political favors." With the rejection of Justice Ling-Cohan by the Manhattan screening panel, we must ask again: Are New York's judicial election laws preventing a highly qualified candidate from obtaining access to the ballot? ... There are too few Asian American judges in New York. We must not support a nominating system that allows highly-qualified and independent judicial candidates to be kept off the ballot, simply because they fall out of favor with party leaders or unfairly become the target of anonymous attacks. We urge the New York County Democratic Committee to convene another panel that will conduct a fair and impartial review of Justice Ling-Cohan's qualifications, and we support her efforts to remain on the New York Supreme Court." See AALDEF's letter here.
“We are surprised by this development. Justice Ling-Cohan is a pillar in our community and a role model to generations of young lawyers. While we respect the Manhattan Democratic Party’s panel process, we urge the party’s Judiciary Committee to adopt a procedure to afford Justice Ling-Cohan the opportunity to seek reconsideration of this most unusual outcome.”
For 20 years, Justice Doris Ling-Cohan has diligently served the New York State court system and has been a champion for diversity and inclusion, perhaps most notably as a leader in the LGBT fight to legalize gay marriage. She is a respected trailblazer in the Asian American legal community. The Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York (FALA-New York) urges the New York County Democratic Committee Independent Judicial Screening Panel to reconsider its decision not to approve the nomination for re-election of Justice Ling-Cohan and continue in office as a New York State Supreme Court Justice. Without Justice Ling-Cohan, there would be no Asian American woman on the New York State judicial bench. We believe Judge Ling-Cohan has earned the honor of being named to the ballot and nothing in her record as a jurist would indicate otherwise.
"LatinoJustice PRLDEF questions the impartiality, fairness and apparent lack of due process guarantees in the apparent decision by the New York County Democratic Committee not to endorse Justice Doris Ling-Cohan for reelection. Justice Ling-Cohan, a highly-qualified judge and the first Asian American woman elected to the New York Supreme Court wrote one of the first marriage equality decisions in the nation in 2005 and was named among the 75 outstanding women lawyers in 2015 by National Law Journal for excellence in the legal profession. Highly-qualified and independent judicial candidates must be afforded every right to respond to any negative considerations or possible political considerations addressed by the Committee’s review and at a minimum be afforded an right to an appeal.We support her efforts to remain on the New York Supreme Court and urge the New York County Democratic Committee to convene another panel to conduct a fair and impartial review of Justice Ling-Cohan's qualifications."
"ALAA, like many other legal groups and organizations, was disturbed by the New York County Democratic Committee Independent Judicial Screening Panel’s recent decision to reject the candidacy of Justice Doris Ling-Cohan to continue in office as a New York State Supreme Court Justice and we urge the Democratic Party to reconsider. ... Justice Ling-Cohan’s record as a fair and impartial justice and of her longstanding history as a trailblazer in the legal community make her continued tenure on the bench critical for all New Yorkers. She was first Asian American woman elected to the New York State Supreme Court and to be appointed to New York State's appellate courts. We urge the Democratic Party to a new panel to convene another panel to evaluate the Justice's qualifications for serving on the Court."
"She will forever remain a hero to members of LeGaL and the entire LGBT community for issuing her landmark 2005 trial court ruling in Hernandez v. Robles, finding in favor of the fundamental right to marry for same-sex couples. She had the foresight to safeguard the equal protection of members of our community before it was politically popular, over six years before the Legislature acted and over a decade before the Supreme Court of the United States made it the constitutional law of the land."
“Judicial independence is imperative to achieving justice. If the status of sitting Judges is placed in jeopardy by the ebbs and flows of the political process, the foundation of our judicial system is placed at risk. Also troubling is the leaking of unconfirmed information allegedly discussed in the confidential review process to members of the press.
"We urge [the Manhattan Democrats] to uphold the independence of our judiciary by setting aside the findings of the panel and convening a new independent panel to review Justice Ling-Cohan’s proven judicial record in conformance with the guidelines. Alternatively, we request that you do whatever is in your power to ensure that the Party’s commitment to a representative judiciary is realized by providing Justice Ling-Cohan with a fair and impartial review of her record."
"As the foremost institution charged with fairly applying our laws and protecting our rights, diversity in the judiciary is crucial. It is important that the community is represented in those that judge us. As the first Asian American woman elected to the bench in New York City, Justice Ling-Cohan represents the epitome of diversity, sharing the complex, layered identity that New Yorkers often possess. In light of recently leaked revelations around the process by which Judge Ling-Cohan was considered, we respectfully call for the Judiciary Committee of the Democratic Party to review procedures to ensure proper process for all judicial candidates to have a fundamentally fair and transparent opportunity to seek review. We also call for an investigation into the disclosure to the media of confidential deliberations, which may jeopardize and undermine the integrity of the judicial nominations process."
"We respectfully submit that no independent and untainted judicial screening process could f1nd Justice Ling-Cohan not to be qualiﬁed to continue in office as a Supreme Court justice. We also note that the Panel, according to its own Procedural Handbook, is governed by the American Bar Association’s Guidelines for Reviewing Qualiﬁcations of Candidates for State Judicial Office, and no objective application of these Guidelines could possibly result in the determination reached by the Panel. ... We urge, in the strongest possible terms, that you intervene by any means necessary, to ensure that this jurist of the highest caliber be permitted to seek re-election as the Democratic Party nominee." See the letter here.
CITIZENSHIP FOR ADOPTEES: THE PLIGHT OF ADOPTED KOREANS IN AMERICA
Adam Crapser is an adoptee from Korea, who is facing deportation, and his story is, unfortunately, not unique. In late October 2016, an immigration judge ruled against relief that would have enabled Adam to stay in the United States, and Adam will likely be deported. KALAGNY expresses its disappointment with the latest outcome, and we convey our deepest support to the Korean-American adoptee community. We are in contact with our sister bar, The Korean American Bar Association of Washington, which is diligently working with Adam's attorney, Lori Walls, Esq. from the Washington Immigration Defense Group and a group of grassroots adoptee activists and allies to advocate on his behalf. As we learn more about Adam and his situation, and of others similarly situated, we will continue to update you here.
To see a recent New York Times article re Adam, click here.
New advocacy page (#KeepUsHome), click here (updated April 13, 2015).
In the meantime, we ask you to learn about Adam and others like him. If you wish to join KALAGNY's effort, please email us at email@example.com.