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.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association will honor Hamre, Schumann, Mueller, and Larson P.C. (HSML) of Minneapolis at the NAPABA national convention in Scottsdale, Ariz. this week!
NAPABA will honor Hamre Schumann Mueller and Larson PC and Perkins Coie LLP with the 2014 Law Firm Diversity Award during the annual gathering of more than 1500 Asian Pacific American attorneys.
HSML is a longtime supporter of MNAPABA and its commitment to diversity in the legal marketplace makes it well-deserving of this honor. Congratulations, HSML!
Read the full press release here: http://bit.ly/NAPABA_LFDA14
The Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA) will host its annual gala on Thursday, October 9, 2014, at the Loews Minneapolis Hotel. More than 250 are registered to attend the group’s celebration featuring the keynote panel, “Blazing the Trail, Championing Justice.” Moderator Vineeta Sawkar of the Star Tribune will lead a discussion between Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and Daniel Lew, the Chief Public Defender for the Sixth Judicial District.
Choi and Lew are trailblazers both nationally and here at home in Minnesota. Choi is the first Korean-American to serve as a top county prosecutor in the United States and the first Asian Pacific American (APA) to do so in Minnesota. Lew is only the fourth APA chief public defender nationally and the first in Minnesota. The keynote discussion will explore the professional triumphs and tribulations of both Choi’s and Lew’s public service career paths.
MNAPABA will also be noting several milestones and honors at Thursday evening’s gala.
The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), which counts MNAPABA as just one of approximately 68 state and local APA bar associations, will award MNAPABA its highly-coveted Affiliate of the Year award at its upcoming national convention in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Nov. 6-9, 2014.
MNAPABA will also celebrate two additional national honors that will be awarded at the 26th Annual NAPABA Convention.
NAPABA announced it will honor Minneapolis attorney and MNAPABA member Bryan Wong a NAPABA Best Lawyers Under 40 Award winner. Wong is a partner at the Minneapolis intellectual property law firm of Hamre, Schumann, Mueller & Larson, P.C. Wong focuses his patent practice on matters involving patent procurement, infringement investigation, and patentability study. Wong served as MNAPABA’s president from 2011-2012. He is a 1999 graduate of the University of Minnesota and a 2006 graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Law.
NAPABA will also honor Hamre, Schumann, Mueller & Larson, P.C., with its NAPABA Law Firm Diversity Award. The award honors law firms that actively, affirmatively, consistently, and enthusiastically recruit, retain, and promote APA lawyers to equity partnership and firm leadership. The award “celebrates law firm successes in recognizing the potential, supporting the promise, and raising the influence of APA lawyers.”
MNAPABA will award honors of its own on Thursday. MNAPABA will recognize member Bob Webber of the Webber Law Firm, LLC as its Member of the Year. The organization will recognize member and former MNAPABA President Steven Reeves of Faegre Baker Daniels with MNAPABA’s Leadership Award.
Mishra is a longstanding member of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA). He served on MNAPABA's Board of Directors from 2001 to 2003 and was President from 2002 to 2003. Mishra was also honored as one of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association's (NAPABA) "Best Under 40" in 2011.
Ash, his wife Kristin, and their two sons (Soren and Milan) will be moving to the Washington D.C. area in 2015.