Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Nguyen Confirmed as Federal Judge in Central District
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The U.S. Senate yesterday confirmed the nomination of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Nguyen, 44, was the first Vietnamese American woman to serve on the California bench. She will be the first federal judge in California appointed by President Obama, and the first Vietnamese American to serve as an Article III federal judge.
Senators confirmed Nguyen by a vote of 97-0 shortly after noon EST. Sen. Dianne Feinstein recommended her appointment to the president earlier this year, and she received a unanimous “Well Qualified” rating from the American Bar Association and was approved in a voice vote of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Nguyen, who sits in Alhambra, did not return a MetNews phone call.
Feinstein, whose office provided a copy of her floor remarks, told her colleagues that the jurist “is a tested judge with a track record of success as both a judge and a federal prosecutor” and was highly recommended by the bipartisan committee the senator uses to screen judicial applicants.
She noted the difficult path that Nguyen had traveled since coming to the United States as a child.
Nguyen was born in Dalat, South Vietnam, the daughter of a South Vietnamese Army major who worked closely with U.S. intelligence officers. The family fled after the fall of the government in 1975, and lived for several months in an Army tent at Camp Pendleton.
After leaving Vietnam and Camp Pendleton, Nguyen grew up in Los Angeles and La Crescenta and graduated from Occidental College in Highland Park in 1987, several years after Obama attended the school. She earned her law degree from UCLA.
“Judge Nguyen’s parents worked two and three jobs at a time in Los Angeles, and Judge Nguyen and her siblings worked side-by-side with them—cleaning a dental office, peeling and cutting apples for a pie company, and finally managing the donut shop that their parents bought and owned.
“In her application to my selection committee, she explained that looking back on these experiences, she realizes now that they were difficult. She wrote, ‘But I nevertheless feel incredibly fortunate because those early years gave me invaluable life lessons that have shaped who I am today.’”
Nguyen was named to the Superior Court by then-Gov. Gray Davis in August 2002, prior to which she was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District.
Nguyen has been a member of a number of Asian American bar groups, including the Vietnamese American Bar Association of Orange County, the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association, the Korean American Bar Association and the Japanese American Bar Association. She helped found and was president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
She was also a board member of the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles.
Nguyen began her legal career in 1991 as a litigation associate with the law firm of Musick, Peeler & Garrett. She moved to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1995 and served in the Public Corruption and Government Fraud Section. Her job included overseeing Department of Defense fraud prosecutions.
She later served as a deputy chief of the General Crimes Section, where she was responsible for training and supervising new federal prosecutors in the Central District.
Nguyen, who is married to Assistant U.S. Attorney Pio Kim, will fill a seat that has been vacant since Nora Manella was named to this district’s Court of Appeal in 2006.
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company