Diversity talk headlined by Superior Court judge

Heidi Stenquist

Heidi Stenquist
City Times

In recognition of Women’s History Month, the World Cultures Program welcomed Judge Lillian Lim, first Filipino-American Superior Court Judge in America, who presented a slide-show of facts to students in the Saville Theatre March 5. She spoke of her rise to the bench, women’s roles in society, justice, ethnic fairness and diversity in the legal system here in the U.S.

Currently, California Judge diversity in the Supreme Court is made up of zero African-American men or women, zero Latina women, one Pacific Islander man and woman, as well as two Caucasian men and women.

Born into a hard working immigrant family, during a time of racial tension, exclusionary laws, and ethnic division, “a real hostility” existed, recounts Lim, who was sheltered by her parents and three brothers. Her only escape she says was to gain her parents respect by going to school.

She graduated from Thomas Jefferson school of Law, then Western State University College of Law, where only 86 of 350 students graduated, three being Asian Pacific she says, “I entered a profession where women and minorities were the minority,”

Where even today, 72% of Judges in California are men, 72.5% of whom are white, 10 out of 105 Court of Appeals Justices are minorities, and only 263 out of 1498 ethnic members make up the California’s Superior Courts appointed Judges.

At less than 5 ft. tall and the size of the podium, her accolades rise above her stature. As former president of the California Asian Judges Association and founding member of the Asian Pacific Bar, member of both Pan Asian and the Filipino American Lawyers of San Diego, Lillian’s hard work has helped lay the groundwork for woman in law.

Now retired, she tours throughout the U.S speaking about the history of women of color in law; writes a column for the Asian Journal of Culture and Commerce, and has recently applied for the Courts of Appeals. Still striving for excellence

Accounting major Ayano Peace, said after the lecture, “compared to my country (Japan), the United States is more open to women,” speaking about the “glass ceiling” that applies to women seeking higher positions in jobs. After listening to the lecture she acknowledges that “Asians do have a voice, [Judge Lim] proved that.”

For more on Asian events and her column check out: http://asainmedia.com or information on future World Culture FREE events, go to: http://www.sdcity.edu/worldcultures.