Press Release

AALDEF statement on NY Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan


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New York City…AALDEF executive director Margaret Fung spoke at a rally and press conference at City Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to support New York Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan, who is facing re-election this year. We issued the following statement:

We are disappointed to learn that Doris Ling-Cohan, a highly-qualified judge and the first Asian American woman elected to the New York Supreme Court in 2002, has not received the endorsement of the New York County Democratic Committee. The Manhattan screening panel’s refusal to report out Justice Ling-Cohan as a “qualified” candidate effectively blocks her re-election to the bench, where she has served for 14 years.

Justice Ling-Cohan is a graduate of New York University Law School and a founder of the Asian American Bar Association of New York and the New York Asian Women’s Center. After her election to the New York Supreme Court, she was appointed to the Appellate Term in 2014. She wrote one of the first marriage equality decisions in the nation in 2005, Hernandez v. Robles. In 2015, she was among the 75 outstanding women lawyers named by National Law Journal for excellence in the legal profession. Justice Ling-Cohan is a prominent member of the Asian American community and has been a mentor to young Asian American lawyers for many years.

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.

For more information, contact:

Margaret Fung, Executive Director
212.966.5932 x201