SAN JOSE, California - The United States Senate today confirmed the Honorable Lucy H. Koh to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Judge Koh is the first Asian Pacific American federal district court judge in the Northern District of California’s 160 year history. The Northern District of California is one of the nation’s leading venues for intellectual property and business litigation, and serves one of the largest populations of Asian Americans in the nation. It has been the forum for many landmark United States Supreme Court decisions that have affected Asian Americans since the 1800s, including U.S. v. Korematsu and Yick Wo v. Hopkins. Judge Koh is also the first Korean American federal district court judge in United States history.
“Given her broad legal experience, integrity and judicial temperament, Judge Koh will be an excellent addition to the bench,” said Rudy Kim, President of the Asian Pacific Bar Association of Silicon Valley and an intellectual property litigation partner at Morrison & Foerster in Palo Alto. “Judge Koh’s confirmation is not only historic for Silicon Valley’s Asian American community but for Asian Americans nationally."
Over the course of nearly two decades, Judge Koh has accumulated extensive experience at the highest levels of the legal profession. Before being appointed to the Superior Court of California for the County of Santa Clara by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in January 2008, Judge Koh served as an intellectual property and commercial litigator in Silicon Valley as a partner at McDermott Will and Emery LLP. She litigated the In re Seagate Technology case, in which the Federal Circuit overturned the 24-year old standard for willful patent infringement. Before joining the private sector, Judge Koh spent many years in public service. She served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Major Frauds Section of the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles. A jury instruction from one of her trials is a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Model Criminal Jury instruction. She received an award from then FBI Director Louis J. Freeh for prosecuting a $54 million securities fraud case. Judge Koh also worked in several positions at the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., including Special Assistant to the United States Deputy Attorney General. Judge Koh began her legal career working for the United States Senate Judiciary Committee. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard University.
"We applaud President Obama for nominating and the Senate for confirming such a stellar judicial nominee as Judge Koh. We thank Senator Boxer for recommending Judge Koh to President Obama and Senator Feinstein for her support for Judge Koh." said Bijal Vakil, Executive Partner of White and Case’s Silicon Valley office and Regional Governor of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. "In addition, we urge the Senate to confirm the other outstanding Asian Pacific American nominees whose nominations are pending as soon as possible."
Judge Koh’s life story epitomizes the American Dream. Her mother escaped North Korea as a child by walking for two weeks to cross the 38th Parallel and arrive in South Korea. Her father fought in the Korean War against the Communists. He later opposed the military dictatorship in South Korea and immigrated to the United States for a better life.
Her family worked in and eventually owned a series of small businesses, in which Judge Koh worked on weekends and holidays. While working at the family’s small business, Judge Koh’s mother earned a Ph.D. in Nutrition from the University of Maryland. She then began teaching in Lorman, Mississippi at Alcorn State University – the first African American land grant college in the United States.
As young girl, Judge Koh attended predominantly African-American elementary schools in Mississippi before finishing junior high and high school in Norman, Oklahoma. Her family’s ties to the Bay Area began nearly four decades ago, when her grandparents moved to San Jose.
Judge Koh and her husband have two children.
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