Raising the Bar: Perspectives on Taking the Bench

April 11, 2012


Karen R. King

As counsel in the Litigation Department at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Karen King has extensive experience handling a wide range of complex commercial cases, with particular emphasis on private securities litigation and arbitration, securities enforcement proceedings, corporate internal investigations, shareholder derivative lawsuits and contract disputes.  Ms. King also has experience in employment, antitrust and copyright matters.  She has represented many corporate clients, including Citigroup, Merck, Scott & Stringfellow, Time Warner and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Among her current matters, Ms. King is representing Citigroup in its: 

- subprime and credit crisis-related litigations and regulatory matters;
- auction rate securities litigation and regulatory matters; and
- civil litigations brought by investors in CDOs, credit default swaps and municipal arbitrage strategies.  

Ms. King also represents Scott & Stringfellow, LLC and BB &T Corporation in various auction rates securities matters.  In the past, Ms. King has represented Time Warner, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Ripplewood Holdings in securites, antitrust, and breach of contract litigations.  

In addition, Ms. King maintains an active pro bono practice.  She recently won a jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York where she was the lead attorney representing Asian-American police officers in an employment discrimination lawsuit against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  She is currently litigating four retaliation cases on behalf of pro bono clients 

Ms. King received her B.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.  While attending Harvard, Ms. King worked on the Journal of Law and Technology and was a research assistant to Professor Lawrence Lessig. 


The Honorable Marilyn D. Go
United States Magistrate Judge (EDNY)

Marilyn D. Go, United States Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York, was the first Asian American woman to serve as a judge in a federal court.  After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1977, she clerked for the late Honorable William M. Marutani in Philadelphia, who was the only Asian American judge on the East Coast at the time. She then served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the E.D.N.Y. and was later a partner at Baden Kramer Huffman Brodsky & Go, P.C.  As a magistrate judge in one of the busiest federal courts in the country, she is responsible for the pretrial management of over 350 civil cases and conducts hearings and trials in a wide range of cases, including actions for employment discrimination, copyright infringement, malpractice and admiralty.  She also handles a variety of criminal matters, including bail and suppression hearings and misdemeanor trials.

Committed to promoting diversity and professionalism in the bar, Judge Go was a founding member, officer and director of the Asian American Bar Association of New York; chair of the Voting Rights Committee of NAPABA; Vice Chair of the Standing Committee on Minorities in the Judiciary of the American Bar Association; and a member of Governor Cuomo's Task Force on Minority Representation on the Bench.  After becoming a judge, she chaired AABANY's Student Outreach Committee for six years and has helped in organizing a national moot court competition named after the late Honorable Thomas Tang.  Besides participating on numerous programs for students, she has appeared on professional development panels for attorneys on various subjects ranging from civil discovery, appellate argument and trial preparation and strategy.

The Honorable Doris Ling-Cohan
New York State Supreme Court

In a historic election, Justice Ling-Cohan became the first public official (other than school board) of Chinese/Asian descent, elected from the Chinatown district, when she won a hotly contested election to the Civil Court in 1995.  In another historic election, in 2002 she became the first Asian American woman elected to the NYS Supreme Court.

New York Daily News called Justice Doris Ling-Cohan “Exhibit A for keeping New York's 159-year-old tradition of electing, not appointing, trial judges. [I]t's beyond question that she brings gutsy independence and legal brainpower to ... [the] bench... ”, when she decided in favor of Marriage Equality in 2005 (Daily News, Errol Louis, 2/7/05).  The New York Post recognized Justice Ling-Cohan by selecting her as a 2005 Liberty Medal Lifetime Achievement Award finalist.

Justice Doris Ling-Cohan was born and raised in New York’s Chinatown.  Her parents were hardworking immigrants, emigrating from China; her mother was a seamstress and her father worked in a laundry. She also worked in the sewing factories as a seamstress and threadcutter, supporting herself since approximately 16 years old.  Justice Ling-Cohan put herself through college, graduating summa cum laude from CUNY/Brooklyn College and attended New York University’s School of Law on a full scholarship.  She is a former Legal Services attorney and Assistant Attorney General, and law professor.

Recently, she was elected the National President of the Judicial Council (NAPABA), an organization of judges of Asian descent.   She serves as a Commissioner on the Franklin Williams Judicial Commission on Minorities (appointed by the Chief Judge) and is a member of the NYC Bar Association’s prestigious Council on International Affairs, and was elected one of the City Bar’s delegates to the NYS Bar Association’s House of Delegate.

In addition to participation in a number of community organizations, she is a founding member of four organizations: Asian American Bar Association of New York, Jade Council (court employees of Asian descent), Asian Pacific American Voters’ Alliance (education and non-partisan registration of APA voters), and New York Asian Women’s Center (domestic violence services to primarily Asian communities in New York).

Toko Serita
New York City Criminal Court

Judge Toko Serita was appointed to the New York City Criminal Court by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2005, and is the first Japanese-American judge in New York State as well as the first Asian-American female appointed to the Criminal Court. Judge Serita currently presides over the Queens Prostitution Diversion Court, which is a unique court specifically designed to identify victims of sex trafficking and offer alternatives to incarceration for those arrested on prostitution charges.  Judge Serita also presides over the Queens Misdemeanor Treatment Court and the Queens Mental Health Recovery Court.

Prior to her appointment to the bench, she joined the court system in 2000 when she became a court attorney to Acting Supreme Court Justice Joseph A. Grosso.  In 2002, she became  the Executive Assistant to the late Hon. Steven W. Fisher, Administrative Judge of the Supreme Court  Queens County, Criminal and Civil Terms,  and then to the Hon. Leslie G. Leach, until 2005.  Judge Serita began her legal career as an appellate attorney at the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Appeals Bureau, from 1989 - 1999, where she argued several important cases before the New York State Appellate Division, First and Second Departments, the New York Court of Appeals, and the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Judge Serita is currently a member of the statewide Criminal Jury Instructions Editing Committee, as well as a member of the New York State Judicial Committee on Women in the Courts.   From 2007-2011, she was also the  Citywide Chair of the Gender Fairness Committee of the New York City Criminal Court, and currently co-chairs the Queens Criminal Matters Gender Fairness Committee along with Hon. Marcia Hirsch.  She has also served on the Feerick Commission to Promote Public Trust and Confidence in Judicial Elections, as well as the Capital Cases Judicial Resource Committee.   Prior to her judgeship, Judge Serita had served for several years on the national board of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF).  She is a graduate of Vassar College and CUNY Law School.



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