The Asian Bar Association of Washington & Asian Bar Association of Washington Student Scholarship Foundation’s Annual Gala is just over a month away! Join us as we present this year’s ABAW scholarships and celebrate our award recipients, the Honorable Patrick Oishi (Judge of the Year) and the Vietnamese Friendship Association (Community Service Award). We are honored to have as our keynote speaker Chief ALJ Lorraine Lee, who will share words of wisdom and inspiration from her career in public service.
SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson yesterday announced the official launch of the newly established Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit within the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. The announcement was made at an event at the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle’s International District.
The well attended event included five current and two former Washington State Supreme Court Justices, nine members of Wing Luke’s family and many other luminaries from the civil rights community who share the common goal of equality for all Washington residents.
Supreme Court Justices Steven González, Mary Fairhurst, Debra Stephens, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Associate Chief Justice Charles Johnson, Justice Susan Owens, former Justices Charles Smith and Faith Ireland (click on photo for a full resolution copy)
“We are the lawyers for the people of Washington state. We are the largest law firm in the state. It is appropriate and important that we have a team dedicated to protecting civil rights,” said Ferguson.
Led by Assistant Attorney General Colleen Melody — a Spokane native and former member of the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division — the Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit works to protect the rights of all Washington residents by enforcing state and federal anti-discrimination laws. The unit will investigate and bring actions to end discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, education, credit and insurance transactions, and at government offices and businesses open to the public. The unit will work closely with the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, the Washington State Human Rights Commission, federal agencies, and civil rights stakeholders.
“Our team will enforce the Washington Law against Discrimination and be a community resource to help people know their rights and how to protect them,” said Melody, speaking to the audience of community leaders. “And we will collaborate and work together with all of you on ways to make Washington a fairer place to work, live, go to school, and play together.”
The Civil Right Unit is named for Wing Luke, who served as an Assistant Attorney General for the state of Washington in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went on to become the first person of color elected to the Seattle City Council and the first Asian-American elected to public office in the Pacific Northwest. Throughout his life and career, Luke was a champion for civil rights and fought to improve the quality of life for all people.
“My brother Wing Luke had a saying, ‘Don’t do things because of who is right, but because of what is right,’” said Bettie Luke, Wing Luke’s sister and former board member of the Wing Luke Museum.
It is believed this is the first time the Attorney General’s Office has named a division or unit to honor the life and legacy of an individual. Ferguson’s intent is not only to honor Wing Luke, but to establish a vision and role model for the future work of the Attorney General’s Office civil right team.
Ferguson also announced yesterday that his office is releasing a new Civil Rights Resource Guide. The guide provides Washington residents with information about their rights under state and federal law and where to go if they believe they have experienced discrimination.
If you have a civil rights complaint, you can contact the Attorney General’s Wing Luke Civil Rights Unit by visiting www.atg.wa.gov/have-civil-rights-complaint.
***ABAW PRESS RELEASE***
Contact info: Lisa Dickinson, President, Asian Bar Association of Washington - firstname.lastname@example.org; www.abaw.org
Asian Bar Association of Washington urges voters to focus on qualifications, not race, of candidates in judicial elections.
As we approach an important election, voters need to be able to make informed decisions based on helpful and relevant dialog among and about the candidates. That dialog, of course, should be grounded in the candidates’ experience, the qualities and ability they bring to the positions they seek, and the recommendation of others who have had the first-hand opportunity to observe and assess their work.
A recent comment quoted in the Seattle Times took that dialog in a troubling and dangerous direction. In stating that Judge Ketu Shah’s long list of endorsements was attributable to the political establishment’s desire to appoint minority judges “and protect them” during elections, the comment suggests that Judge Shah ’s endorsements arise from a desire to “protect” him as a person of color, not because of his qualifications. (“DUI lawyers PAC shifts support in judicial races to co-founder’s wife,” Oct. 4, 2014).
ABAW condemns this statement as inappropriately inserting race into this judicial election and potentially any other election involving a sitting minority judge.
“Comments like these are demeaning to minority judges and candidates because they suggest that minorities get where they are because they’re minorities, and not because of their ability to do the job,” said ABAW President Diana Young. “That’s a perception that so many have fought so hard to overcome.” It is, of course, extremely important that our judges reflect the diversity of the community served by our courts, but voters do not benefit from a dialog that uses an individual’s race to diminish his or her true accomplishments.
“Voters need to educate themselves on the qualifications of judicial candidates, no matter who the candidate is. Part of that education is to consider the candidate’s endorsements and certainly not assume that the endorsements are based on the color of the candidate’s skin,” adds ABAW’s immediate past president Jeffrey Liang.
A good resource for Washington voters to learn more about the judges and candidates is the non-partisan site, www.VotingforJudges.org.
The Asian Bar Association of Washington (“ABAW”) is the professional association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students whose mission is to promote justice, equity and opportunity for Asian Pacific Americans.
Attorneys (and judges), please consider helping judge the NAPABA NW Regional rounds of the Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition, to be held October 16-17 in Seattle. Judges are primarily needed for evening rounds on Friday, Oct. 16. Materials & bench memo provided in advance. To volunteer or for more information please contact Presiding Judge C. Kimi Kondo, Seattle Municipal Court, at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Co-Sponsored by the ABAW