“You don’t see a lot of other Asians or minorities in the court system or legal system"

SCMP reports that the first Asian American judge to serve in Massachusetts has been honored with a national award.

Judge Richard J. Chin, who retired in May, was honored by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association with the Daniel K. Inouye Trailblazer Award.

Whilst there are many Asian American lawyers in law firms, few enter the state court system.

“It’s a very tough system to navigate,” Chin said. “You don’t see a lot of other Asians or minorities in the court system or legal system.”

“You’re going to have to have a tough skin. You’re going to face a lot of challenges,” he added.

Chin was appointed by Gov. Michael Dukakis in 1989 to the Boston Municipal Court in 1989. He went on to be appointed to the the Massachusetts Superior Court by Gov. William Weld in 1993.

The Asian American judge also served on he state Supreme Judicial Court’s Commission to Study Race and Ethnic Bias in the Courts.

Growing up, Chin was part of one of the few Chinese families in Brockton. He often saw his father being discriminated against due to his race.

The Chin family was even denied the chance to buy a home because of they were Chinese. Fortunately, Boston’s Chinatown community offered support.

“That’s how people survived in this country,” Chin said. “There was no support (system in Brockton), but we found support in Chinatown.”

“You can’t fight racism if you can’t fight it in the court system,” he said. “Where do people go for justice?”

Christina Chan, president of the Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts and an assistant attorney general in Massachusetts praised Chin for breaking down barriers.

“Judge Chin was on the front lines of being the ‘first’ to experience the adversity, backlash and resistance to having an Asian Pacific American on the judicial bench,” Chan wrote in her letter to the award committee. “He preserved and forged a path for others to follow.”