Following 2014-2015 Executive Board action and the annual ceremonial vote of the MNAPABA membership at the annual MNAPABA Gala, held this year in conjunction with the NAPABA Central Regional Conference in Minneapolis on September 19, MNAPABA is proud to announce its new Executive Board for the upcoming membership year, beginning on October 1, 2015:
President: Gregory Schwartz, Billion & Armitage
President-Elect: Benjamin Kwan, Halunen Law
Immediate Past President: Irene Kao, League of Minnesota Cities
Secretary: Alene Sussman, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Treasurer: Emily Faber-Densley, 3M
VP of Communications: Maya Tao, Wilson Law Group
VP of Membership: Malika Kanodia, Best Buy
VP of Outreach: Summra Shariff, Robins Kaplan
VP of Programs: Alex Dyste, Fourth Judicial District
Pictured Above, from L to R: Summra Shariff, Malika Kanodia, Benjamin Kwan, Alene Sussman, Maya Tao, Greg Schwartz, Irene Kao, and Emily Faber-Densley (not pictured, Alex Dyste). Photo taken on September 19, 2015, at the MNAPABA Annual Gala at the NAPABA Central Regional Conference in Minneapolis.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Central Regional Conference is underway in Minneapolis. The event, “Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future,” is being hosted by the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA).
The event opened on Friday evening with “A Man of Quiet Bravery: A Reenactment of the Fred Korematsu Case” at the United States Courthouse in Minneapolis. The presentation featured local lawyers and judges in an adaptation of the Peter Irons play on the late civil rights leader’s life and legal experience. Karen Korematsu, Fred Korematsu’s daughter, was in attendance and provided moving first-hand accounts of her dad’s story.
On Saturday, Professor Erika Lee of the University of Minnesota delivered the event’s lunch keynote presentation. Professor Lee is the director of the Immigration History Research Center at the U of MN and is the Rudolph J. Vecoil Chair in Immigration History.
Professor Lee shared findings and reflections fromher new book, “The Making of Asian America: A History” (September, 2015), an account of the fastest-growing minority group in the United States. The book’s release is timed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Immigration Act and has already received starred reviews from Library Journal and Kirkus Review, which calls it “a powerful, timely story told with method and dignity.”
Professor Lee shared historical anecdotes from her book including stories about her grandparents, who opened the very patriotic New Deal Chow Mein Inn in New York in the early part of the 1900s.
Professor Lee recalled a California history class during her early years. It was late in life for her, as she recalls, because it was the first time she had ever learned about anti-Asian American sentiments in United States history.
Her first question, she said, was “why haven’t I ever heard of this?”
Professor Lee said her piqued curiosity quickly transformed the question into: “why are Asian Americans invisible?” she said. “The search for these hidden histories put me on the path to becoming a writer, historian, and teacher.”
Professor Lee said that these early questions have driven her professional career. Professor Lee was on hand to sign copies of her new book following her presentation.
“What I try to do in my teaching and my writing is fix this problem—fix this problem by writing Asian Americans back into history.”
The Central Regional Conference continues Saturday afternoon with continuing legal education breakout sessions at the law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels, an event underwriter. Following the afternoon sessions, the annual MNAPABA Gala will take place at the Marriott in Minneapolis featuring CRC keynote speaker Jenny Yang, Chairperson of the EEOC.
On September 18-20, the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA) is hosting the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Central Regional Conference, which includes attorneys from eight states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin). MNAPABA has partnered with many in the legal and general communities to ensure a successful conference, including 28 sponsors and 40 panelists and speakers at this threeday conference.
The conference kicks off on Friday night with A Man of Quiet Bravery: A Re-Enactment of the Fred Korematsu Case with reflections from Karen Korematsu. Karen Korematsu is the Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, where she works tirelessly to make sure Americans don’t forget the Supreme Court decision that failed to protect the civil rights of her father and thousands of other Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II.
This re-enactment is based on a play written by Peter Irons and adapted by Rick Shiomi, the Co-Artistic Director of the Full Circle Theater Company in Minnesota. The reenactment participants include an impressive representation of local judges and attorneys, including judges from Minnesota District Court, Minnesota Court of Appeals, Minnesota Supreme Court, and U.S. District Court.
The conference continues on Saturday with a full-day of ten Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs, including The Federal Reserve at 100 Years: Perspectives from the Past and Outlook on the Future, Parting the Clouds: What Public Sector and In-House 2 Counsel Need to Know about Privacy, Security, and Compliance in the Cloud, Too Close to the Line: Reflections from the Bench on “Gray Areas” in the Practice of Law, and many others.
Saturday includes two national keynote speakers. Dr. Erika Lee, a professor at the University of Minnesota, is giving the lunch keynote address on Asian immigration, particularly in light of the 50th anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Jenny Yang, the first Asian-American Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), is delivering the Gala keynote address on the 50th anniversary of the EEOC and the future direction of this federal agency.
At the traditionally well-attended annual Gala, MNAPABA will be featuring the Asian Pacific Legal Experience in America Exhibit, which traces the Asian Pacific American legal experience through a retrospective look at events historical including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Japanese American Incarceration in WWII, and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. The exhibit first debuted in the United States Courthouse in Minneapolis on May 20, 2015. It has since traveled to the Duluth and Fergus Falls federal courthouses.
Background on Fred Korematsu
Fred Korematsu was born in Oakland, California. But it didn’t matter that he was a U.S. citizen when President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 in 1942. The President’s order resulted in the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Ten camps were set up nationally and approximately 120,000 people were incarcerated during the war. An estimated two-thirds of these individuals were Japanese Americans born in the U.S. just like Korematsu.
Korematsu was arrested in 1942 for going into hiding in northern California after refusing to go to an incarceration camp. Korematsu challenged the constitutionality of his arrest in court and, two years later, the Supreme Court heard his case. In now one of its most infamous and criticized rulings ever, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government and against Korematsu. The majority of justices claimed that the detentions were not based on racial discrimination but rather on suspicions that JapaneseAmericans were acting as spies.
After World War II, Korematsu was released. But the conviction remained on his record for 40 years until it was finally overturned in 1983.
MNAPABA is proud to co-sponsor the National Association of Women Lawyers’ Regional General Counsel Institute: “Being Your Own Entrepreneur: Define Your Success. Own Your Career.”
MNAPABA members are invited to join experienced women in-house counsel to discuss building your in-house legal career at NAWL's 2015 Regional General Counsel Institute ("RGCI") on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, Minnesota. If you are in-house counsel at any seniority level who wants to advance your legal expertise, improve your communication and management skills, and enhance your C-suite presence to add greater strategic value to your company's business, then consider attending RGCI.
You can learn more at www.nawl.org/RGCIMN. MNAPABA members will receive a 10% discount. Watch for the unique code in an upcoming email from MNAPABA.
On behalf of the FBA Diversity Committee, you are invited to a CLE and networking event to be held on April 16, 2015, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Radisson Blu on 7th Street in Downtown Minneapolis. The program is entitled Cultivating a Diverse Pipeline of New Lawyers in Uncertain Legal Times. The Honorable Tony N. Leung, United States Magistrate Judge, will provide opening remarks. Panelists will include:
Val Jensen, Executive Director, Twin Cities Diversity in Practice
Anthony Winer, Professor of Law, William Mitchell College of Law
Tracy M. Smith, Deputy General Counsel, University of Minnesota
Dr. Luiza Dreasher, Assistant Dean and Director of Multicultural and International Inclusion, William Mitchell College of Law
To RSVP, please contact Jennifer Gerboth at 612-349-8258 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is limited.
The FBA is seeking 1.5 Minnesota CLE elimination of bias credits.
On behalf of The Honorable Nicole J. Starr and the Second Judicial District Court, you are cordially invited to attend the oath ceremony for Ms. Starr as she becomes a member of the District Court of Ramsey County.
The program is scheduled to begin promptly at four o’clock in the afternoon on Friday, April 10, 2015, in the cortile of the Landmark Center, 75 West Fifth Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
A reception hosted by Jenny and Nicole Starr and The Law Offices of John C. Conard at Hellmuth & Johnson will immediately follow in the cortile of the Landmark Center.
Download a PDF copy of the official invitation here.
MNAPABA and its members are off to a busy start in the New Year. Here's a selection of member and organizational highlights from the last few weeks:
A Call for Federal Court Diversity. The Star Tribune's Editorial Board called for more diversity on the federal bench in Minnesota in an editorial published January 6. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael Davis announced he will assume senior status this summer, a move that will open up a vacancy on the federal bench in Minnesota. Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken established a seven-member panel of distinguished members of the Minnesota bar to review applications and have asked that applications be submitted no later than the end of business on Friday. The senators will then recommend a candidate to President Obama for appointment. Meanwhile, MNAPABA President Irene Kao was a co-signatory to a letter to the panel urging the the consideration of bringing women of color to the federal bench.
John Choi Sworn in for Second Term. On Tuesday, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi took the oath of office for his second term as Ramsey County Attorney. The Pioneer Press talked to Choi, a member of MNAPABA's Advisory Board, about his accomplishments in his first term and his goals for his second. The article includes encouraging praise from stakeholders in Ramsey County including St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith.
Governor Mark Dayton announced Tuesday that he has appointed longtime MNAPABA member and former MNAPABA President, Nicole J. Starr, to fill one of two current vacancies on the bench in Minnesota's Second Judicial District. Ms. Starr (formerly Kubista) was appointed along with Sara R. Grewing to fill vacancies on the bench created when the Honorable Paulette K. Flynn and the Honorable Gregg E. Johnson retired earlier this year, according to the Governor's office. Ms. Starr will be chambered in St. Paul.
In a news release issued Tuesday, Governor Dayton said, "Ms. Sara Grewing and Ms. Nicole Starr will bring diverse experiences and very impressive skills to their new roles in the Second Judicial District.” Governor Dayton continued, “Both women are extremely accomplished, and have shown exemplary commitments to public service. I have great confidence that Ms. Starr and Ms. Grewing will serve the people of the Second Judicial District with excellence."
Ms. Starr is an Assistant Public Defender in the Second Judicial District Public Defender’s Office, where she specializes in forensic science. She is also of counsel at Hellmuth and Johnson, PLLC, and previously served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Katherine D. Roe in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District and the Honorable Justice Zakeria Mohammed Yacoob in the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Ms. Starr earned her BA from the University of Minnesota and her JD from the University of Minnesota Law School.
Ms. Starr served as MNAPABA President from 2009-2010 and is a current member of MNAPABA's Advisory Board.
"We congratulate Nikki Starr in her appointment to the Second Judicial District," said Irene Kao, president of MNAPABA. "Ms. Starr is highly qualified, and selected from a very competitive field. Her appointment is significant for the Asian Pacific American legal community."
Kao added that MNAPABA has been actively engaged in identifying, cultivating, and supporting Asian Pacific American attorneys who have an interest in serving on the bench.
Daniel Lew, fellow MNAPABA Advisory Board Member and Minnesota's Sixth Judicial District Chief Public Defender, welcomed the news and noted that Ms. Starr is the first Asian Pacific American appointed to the bench in Ramsey County by a Minnesota governor, notable since Ramsey County is home to Minnesota's largest Asian Pacific American community.
"It's few days when you can say an appointment is: tremendous for the APA community; historic for citizens of Ramsey County and a joyous day for Nikki, her family and spouse," Lew said. "Today is that day!"
The Honorable Gail Chang Bohr retired from the bench in Ramsey County earlier this year and went on senior status. Senior Judge Bohr, the first Asian Pacific American to serve on the bench in Ramsey County, won her seat through a judicial election.
"The Governor is to be congratulated on two excellent appointments, Nikki Starr and Sara Grewing," Senior Judge Bohr said Tuesday. "In particular, the appointment of Nikki Starr to the Second Judicial District shows the Governor's recognition of the changing demographics in Ramsey County and the importance of the community seeing itself reflected in its judges."
Ms. Starr is also an active member of the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association (MLBA). With her appointment to the bench, Ms. Starr becomes one of fewer than ten out LGBT judges in the state, according to Lousene Hoppe, co-chair of the MLBA.
"We heartily congratulate Ms. Starr for her appointment to the Ramsey County bench and to Governor Dayton for his selection of a highly-qualified candidate," Hoppe said. "A bench filled with judges of diverse experiences and perspectives is highly important to the LGBT community, and Ms. Starr's appointment moves Minnesota further toward that goal."
Please stay tuned, MNAPABA will have more information on Ms. Starr's appointment to the bench and reactions from MNAPABA members.
More than 20 people attended the MNAPABA outing to the Timberwolves/Lakers game on Sunday, December 14, 2014. While the Timberwolves played well, they lost to Jeremy Lin and the Lakers 100-94. During this historic game, Kobe Bryant passed Michael Jordan for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Jeremy Lin also had season highs with 11 assists and 4 steals during this game.
Thank you to the Timberwolves for the photo op on the court.