UW Law Library Celebrates APIDA Heritage Month

In observance of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month, the UW Law Library celebrates the accomplishments of Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi American members of the legal profession. Check out UW-Madison’s APIDA Heritage month page for more information about events hosted by UW-Madison.

Photo of Heather Latu, wearing black shirt and standing in front of brick wall.Taulapapa Brenda Heather-Latu

Born in New Zealand to Samoan parents, Brenda Heather-Latu served as Crown Counsel for New Zealand before becoming  Attorney General of Samoa. She is Samoa’s longest-serving Attorney General, holding that office from 1997 to 2006. Heather-Latu was bestowed the traditional title of Taulapapa in 2015, a title also held by her grandfather and uncle. She is currently in private practice in Apia, Samoa, specializing in commercial law, and consults across the Pacific region on trade and environmental  matters. She also serves as Honorary Consul for Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Samoa and chair of Oceania Rugby’s Judicial Committee.

Sources: Strategic Development GroupWikipediaLinkedInWorld Rugby     

Photo Credit: Strategic Development Group  

Painting of Dalit Singh Saund, standing in government building wearing a blue suit and red tie.Dalip Singh Saund

Dalip Singh Saund was a member of the United States House of Representatives, serving the 29th District of California from 1957 to 1963. He was the first Sikh American, Asian American and Indian American elected to Congress. Born and raised in India, he came to America to do graduate work at University of California.  He was a farmer and distributor of chemical fertilizer for over 20 years before being elected to the House of Representatives with strong support from farmers and the business community. As a congressperson, he was a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, a supporter of the Civil Rights act, and secured funding for many agricultural and development projects in his district. 

Sources: United States House of Representatives History, Art & ArchivesSouth Asian American Digital Archive

Photo Credit: United States House of Representatives History, Art & Archives (Jon R. Friedman, artist)   

Photo of Summer Kupau-Odo, wearing black top and pearl necklace.Summer Kupau-Odo

Summer Kupau-Odo was appointed a District Court Judge of the First Circuit of Hawaii in 2018. She grew up in Lahaina, Maui, and obtained her B.A. from Pepperdine University before returning to Hawai’i to attend the William S. Richardson School of Law.  Prior to being appointed to the judiciary, Kupau-Odo worked in the areas of Native Hawaiian and environmental rights as Co-Litigation Director for the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, and as a senior associate attorney at the Earthjustice. She also served as a Deputy Public Defender for eight years.

Source: Hawai’i State JudiciaryWilliam S. Richardson School of Law

Photo Credit: William S. Richardson School of Law    

Photo of Sen. Daniel Inouye, standing in front of US Capitol building, wearing black suit and red tie.Daniel Inouye

After his service in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in World War II, Daniel Inouye attended and graduated from Harvard Law. He was admitted to the bar in 1953 and served for several years as a public prosecutor. His landslide election to Hawaii’s lone U.S. House seat made him the first Japanese-American Member of Congress, and in 1962 he also became the first Japanese-American Senator. From 1959, when Hawaii first gained statehood, to 2012, when he passed away, there was not a single year of those fifty-three when Daniel Inouye did not represent his state in Washington.

Source: United States House of Representatives History, Art & Archives

Photo Credit: Wikimedia (United States Congress)

Photo of Kashoua Kristy Yang, wearing a black blouse with a bow at the neck.Kashoua Kristy Yang

Kashoua Kristy Yang, a 2009 graduate of the UW Law School, was elected to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in 2017, making her the first Hmong American judge elected without appointment, and the first Hmong American woman to become a judge.Before her election, Yang worked as a family law mediator, as well as concentrating on worker’s compensation and social security disability. Yang has often spoken of how her childhood experience as a refugee has informed her decision to enter law and her career as a lawyer and judge.

Sources: Wisconsin Alumni AssociationNBC News

Photo Credit: Wisconsin Alumni Association (Lacy Landre, photographer)

Photo of Glenn Yamahiro, wearing a black suit and tie.Glenn Yamahiro

Glenn Yamahiro earned his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin in the UW Law School Class of 1991. After his graduation, he served for four years with the public defender’s office before forming a law partnership with two other former public defenders. He was first appointed to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court by Gov. Jim Doyle in 2003, replacing Jacqueline Schellinger and making Yamahiro the first Asian-American judge in Wisconsin history. He was subsequently re-elected in 2004, 2010, and 2016. 

Sources: UW Law School Digital RepositoryWisconsin Circuit Court Judges Directory: Milwaukee County Judges 

Photo Credit: UW Law School Digital Repository

Painting of Herbert Choy, wearing black judicial robes in front of an orange background.Herbert Choy

After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1941, Herbert Choy was the first Korean-American to be admitted to the bar. In World War II, Choy served part of his six years as a member of the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps. After the war, he went into private practice for  several years before serving as the Attorney General of the Territory of Hawaii. He was nominated to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1971 by President Nixon, becoming the first Asian American to serve on a federal bench. He assumed senior status in 1984, and continued to serve until his death in 2004.

Sources: Honolulu Star BulletinFederal Judicial CenterLos Angeles Times

Photo Credit: Wikimedia (United States Department of Justice)

Photo of Patricia A. Yim Cowett, wearing a floral Chinese blouse.Patricia A. Yim Cowett

The first Chinese American female judge in California, Patricia Yim Cowett began her judicial career in 1979 after being appointed to the Municipal Court by then-Governor Jerry Brown, Jr. Judge Cowett succeeded to the Superior Court in 1998. She served as the second of only two women to be the Presiding Judge of the San Diego Municipal Court (1991) and helped establish the specialized criminal domestic violence court. 

Sources: Superior Court of CaliforniaWikipedia        

Photo Credit: Giving Back Magazine

Photo of Zainab Ahmad, wearing a light blue dress.Zainab Ahmad

Zainab Ahmad is a partner at Gibson and Dunn specializing in white collar defense and investigations, as well as regulatory and civil litigation challenges. The child of Pakistani immigrants, Ahmad received her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2005. She spent 11 years as a prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice, traveling extensively throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Europe to investigate and prosecute extraterritorial terrorism cases. Starting in 2013, she served as deputy chief of the national security and cybercrime section of the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office, and in 2017 she joined Robert Mueller’s special counsel office in their investigation of the 2016 elections.

Sources: The New YorkerThe Washington PostThe New York Law JournalGibson Dunn

Photo Credit: The New Yorker (Pari Dukovic, photographer)

Photo of Hong Yen Chang in black and white, wearing a black suit.Hong Yen Chang

Hong Yen Chang, an 1886 graduate of Columbia Law School, was refused a law license in California due to the the federal Chinese Exclusion Act, which barred him from citizenship. Though he was later admitted to the New York Bar through a special act of the New York State Legislature, making him first Chinese immigrant to be admitted to the Bar in the United States, it was not until 2015, 125 years after his first application, that the California Supreme Court awarded him a posthumous law license in California. His great-grandniece, Rochelle Chong, is an attorney who served for three years as a Commissioner of the FCC.

Sources: NPRLos Angeles TimesNew York Times 

Photo Credit: NPR (AP/Ah Tye Family)