Monday, May 5, 2008
Retired San Diego Judge to Receive CWL’s Joan Dempsey Klein Award
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Retired San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia A. Yim Cowett is this year’s recipient of the Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award, California Women Lawyers has announced.
The group announced Cowett’s selection for the award—which it said is given for “judicial excellence and for long-term service and inspiration to California’s women lawyers”—in a release issued Thursday.
The award is named after the presiding justice of Div. Three of this district’s Court of Appeal, who was CWL’s founding president.
Klein, who called Cowett an “extraordinarily courageous” woman, and praised her work as a role model and mentor to Asian-American law students, said, “I am quite honored to have her receive an award in my name.”
Cowett was appointed to the Municipal Court in 1979 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, and elevated to the Superior Court when the two courts were unified in 1999.
CWL said that Cowett was the first UC Davis School of Law alumnus to be appointed to the bench, and it that it believes Cowett, who retired at the end of March, is the first Chinese-American woman in the nation to be appointed to the bench.
One of Cowett’s final—and more famous—cases was Chou v. Starbucks Corp., in which she held that the Seattle-based coffee company’s practice of paying shift supervisors from the tip pool violated state law and ordered the coffee giant to pay approximately $105 million to its baristas.
The 60-year-old jurist was valedictorian of her high school class in 1965, and went on to attend U.C. Berkley, where she earned a degree in Psychology.
She is the former District 9 Governor for the CWL and a former president of the Lawyers Club of San Diego, and previously served as Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego’s first President. In 2003, she was awarded the Trailblazer Award for the Orange and San Diego Counties region by that organization.
Cowett also served on the Lawyers Club Fund for Justice and the Lawyers Club Diverse Women’s Task Force, as well as the Mayor’s Advisory Board on Women and as co-chair of the International Outreach Committee for the National Association of Women Judges.
She will receive the award at CWL’s 20th Annual Southern California Judicial Reception, which is scheduled to be held May 16 at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego.
The group requests that those interested in attending contact its office by telephone or email, or register online at its Web site.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company