May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month. Asian Pacific Americans serve as judges in all but two classes of Georgia’s court system. Only the Court of Appeals of Georgia (on which Justice Carla W. McMillian previously presided) and the State-wide Business Court (which is a newly created, single-judge class) are without an Asian American judge. To celebrate, we are highlighting the Asian Pacific American judges who are currently sitting on the bench in Georgia. Below are these trailblazing judges organized by class of court.
Justice Carla Wong McMillian has served as a Supreme Court Justice since April 10, 2020. Justice McMillian began her career on the bench in 2010 as a judge for the Fayette County State Court. In 2013, Governor Deal appointed her to the Court of Appeals of Georgia. In the subsequent election, she became the first Asian American to be elected to a statewide office in Georgia.
Judge Tony Baker was elected to the Superior Court bench of the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit in 2019, becoming the second AAPI Superior Court judge in Georgia. He was the first AAPI Juvenile Court Judge in Georgia, when he was appointed to the Blue Ridge Circuit in 2007. He also previously served as a Municipal Court Judge for the cities of Canton, Holly Springs and Woodstock.
Judge Meng H. Lim has served as Superior Court judge for the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit since 2015. Upon winning the election in July 2014, Judge Lim became the first Asian American Superior Court judge in Georgia and the first Cambodian American Judge (of Chinese ancestry) in the state.
Judge Alvin T. Wong has served as State Court Judge for DeKalb County since 1998 when he became the first elected Asian American Elected to public office in metro Atlanta and the first Asian American to be elected judge in the Southeast.
Judge Jaslovelin Jessy Lall serves as a senior judge for the Fulton County State Court. Judge Lall is the first South Asian to serve on the bench in any judicial office in Georgia. She is also currently the only South Asian female judge in Georgia. Judge Lall originally hails from Singapore.
Judge Sandra Pak serves as associate judge for the Probate Court of Gwinnett County. Judge Pak is the first Korean American woman to serve as a judge in Gwinnett County, and the first AAPI woman to serve as a Probate Court Judge in Georgia. She was appointed to the court in July 2020.
Judge Nahn-Ai Simms was appointed the Juvenile Court of Gwinnett County in August 2020. Upon her swearing-in, Judge Simms became the second Vietnamese American judge in Georgia and the first AAPI woman to serve as a Juvenile Court judge.
Judge Rizza O’Connor has served as the Chief Magistrate for Toombs County since November 2013. Upon her swearing-in, Judge O’Connor became the first Filipino American to serve as judge in Georgia.
Judge Deepak Jeyaram has served as judge to the Magistrate Court of Gwinnett County since October 2016. Upon his swearing-in, Judge Jeyaram became the first South Asian American judge in Gwinnett County.
Judge Chong J. Kim serves as an associate judge for the city of Doraville. Judge Kim became the first Korean American female judge in Georgia when she was appointed to the Magistrate Court of Fulton County in 2000, where she served until 2008.
Judge Chung Lee currently serves as Associate Judge for the Municipal Court of Duluth. Judge Chung previously served the Magistrate Court of Gwinnett, where he became the first Asian American judge in the county and the first Korean American to serve in a judicial office in Georgia.
Judge Jenny Nguyen serves as Associate Judge for the City of Morrow Municipal Court. Judge Nguyen is the first female Asian-American judge to serve in Clayton County.
Judge Ethan Pham serves as Chief Judge for the City of Lawrenceville Municipal Court and Associate Judge for the cities of Chamblee and Norcross. Judge Pham previously served as Associate Judge for the City Morrow, where in 2018 he became the first Vietnamese American to serve on municipal court in Georgia and the first Asian American Judge in Clayton County.
Judge Mihae Park is the second Korean American woman appointed to serve as a judge in Gwinnett County, and the first AAPI woman judge appointed to a County Recorder’s Court in Georgia. She will be sworn in on May 28, 2021.