U.S. Senate confirms first Filipino-American federal judge in America (with photo)

December 16, 2012 11:24 am 

By Ben Cal

MANILA, Dec. 15 -– The first-ever Filipino-American named by President Barack Obama to serve as federal judge for the Southern District of New York has been confirmed by the United States Senate, according to Global Balita, a Filipino-owned website based in the U.S.

The appointment and subsequent confirmation of Judge Lorna Gail Scholfield, whose mother is a Filipina, was hailed by various Filipino-American communities in America.

The U.S. Senate confirmed her in a vote of 91-0.

In an e-mail to the Philippines News Agency, Perry Diaz, owner and columnist of Global Balita, said that the appointment of Schofield “to the Federal Court is an important milestone in U.S. jurisprudence."

“As Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Schofield’s appointment is a testament to the Obama administration’s commitment to the Filipino-American community and to have a Judiciary that reflects the nation it serves,” Diaz pointed out.

This is the first time in the long history of the U.S. that a Filipino-American in the person of Judge Schofield has been named as federal judge in the U.S. judiciary.

Tracing her roots, Diaz said that Schofield was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Jan. 22, 1956.

Diaz said that Schofield belongs to the second-generation Filipino-American. She is the only child of a Filipina mother who immigrated to the United States after World War II.

Schofield grew up in New Haven, Indiana. She graduated from New Haven Senior High School in 1974.

“The year before, she was elected governor of Hoosier Girls State, a program of the American Legion Auxiliary,” Diaz said.

Schofield received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University in 1977 and got her doctorate from New York University School of Law in 1981.

Later, she worked as an associate at the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.

Diaz said that in 1984, Schofield was appointed as assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where she specialized in prosecuting domestic terrorism, smuggling and tax fraud.

In 1988, Schofield went into private practice and joined the New York City law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP as an associate. In 1991, she was promoted and became the firm’s first minority partner. She specialized in complex civil litigation and white-collar criminal defense.

“Schofield has been heavily involved with the American Bar Association (ABA), holding a number of leadership positions. She was the first Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) to chair the ABA’s Litigation Section. The National Law Journal named her one of the nation’s 50 most influential minority lawyers,” Diaz said.

He said that on April 25, 2012, President Obama nominated Schofield to serve as U.S. District Judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

On June 6 this year Schofield testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and on July 12, the Judiciary Committee submitted her nomination to the full U.S. Senate.

Diaz said that “On December 13, 2012, the U.S. Senate confirmed her in a 91-0 vote. She received her commission – a life time tenure — the same day.”

In a related development, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) based in Washington, D.C., lauded the confirmation of Schofield.

“Ms. Schofield’s confirmation by the Senate is a historic moment not only for our community but for the entire nation,” said NaFFAA National Chairman Ed Navarra.

“Given that Asian Americans are significantly underrepresented in the federal judiciary, Ms. Shofield’s addition will greatly enhance the judiciary’s diversity,” Navarra added.

Rozita Lee, former NaFFAA national vice chair and a member of the White House Commission on Asian Pacific American Islanders, said that “we are elated with her confirmation and our community is very proud to see a Filipino-American achieve this honor and distinction.”

Gloria T. Caoile, a former White House commissioner, said: “We need more role models like Judge Schofield to inspire our young people to aspire for public service.” (PNA)

SCS/RBC/UTB

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