Justice Eng honored with namesake award: Milestone in New York’s legal history

June 5, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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On Wednesday, May 31, the legal community gathered for a historic event: the inaugural Hon. Randall T. Eng Award ceremony. The award, named after the accomplished justice, celebrated a legacy of contribution to the legal field and Asian American representation within it.

Justice Randall T. Eng delivers a moving speech during the inaugural Hon. Randall T. Eng Award ceremony.

The ceremony opened with an effusive welcome from Hon. Lara Genovesi, followed by Hon. Hector D. LaSalle, Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department.

Justice Eng’s introduction came from Hon. Lillian Wan, an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department. Justice Eng, who is now Of Counsel to Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., has previously served as the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, overseeing the largest and busiest Judicial Department in the State of New York. His prestigious legal career in public service began as an assistant district attorney in Queens County, marking him as the first Asian American appointed as an assistant prosecutor in New York State history.

From left: Hon. Norman St. George, First Deputy Chief Administrative Judge, Joseph A. Zayas, Chief Administrative Judge, and Hon. Deborah A. Kaplan, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge of the New York City Courts.

“Congratulations to our very first honoree, Congresswoman Grace Meng, the first and only Asian-American member of Congress from the State of New York,” said Hon. Lillian Wan, who co-chaired the event with Hon. Lara Genovesi.

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“The Honorable Randal Eng became the first Asian-American to become a judge in the State of New York in the year 1983. That is still something that blows me away because I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be the only one in the state. I became a Family Court judge in 2012 and at that time there were only 20 Asian-American judges statewide.”

Judges of the NYS Court of Appeals (from left): Hon. Michael J. Garcia, Hon. Michael J. Garcia, Chief Judge Rowan Wilson, and Hon. Anthony Cannataro.

Judge Wan explained that Judge Eng had mentored most of the Asian-American judges that came after him, and encouraged her and others to form the Asian-American Judge’s Association. Judge Eng confirmed that today there are more than 60 Asian-American judges in the State, and joked that he doesn’t know them all, but explained that’s a positive since it means there are now, finally, too many for him to keep up with.

After graciously accepting the eponymous award, Justice Eng had the privilege of introducing Congresswoman Grace Meng, representing New York’s Sixth Congressional District. The congresswoman was not available in person, since she was busy with the debt-ceiling vote, however she was able to give pre-recorded remarks.

Attorney General Letitia James, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, and Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz come together to honor Justice Eng’s contributions to the legal field at the award ceremony.

Like Justice Eng, Congresswoman Meng is a pioneering figure in her own right — she is the first and only Asian American Member of Congress from New York State, and the first female Congressmember from Queens since former Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro.

In Congress, she has been instrumental in championing legislation that affects various facets of her constituents’ lives, including education, housing, veterans’ affairs, and consumer protections.

Karen Kim, president of the Asian American Bar Association of New York.

Karen Kim, President of the Asian American Bar Association of New York, closed the ceremony. The attendees then celebrated the successful event with a lunch, honoring Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

The Hon. Randall T. Eng Award was a fitting tribute to Justice Eng’s pioneering role in the New York State legal system and the innumerable strides he made to enhance Asian American representation in the field. The event also shone a spotlight on Congresswoman Meng’s continued service and dedication to her district and the Asian American community at large.

Dennis Quirk (left), president of the New York State Court Officers Association, and Hon. Matthew D’Emic, administrative judge of the Kings County Supreme Court, Criminal Term.

The event was sponsored by the Asian-American Bar Association of New York, the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York, the Filipino American Lawyers Association of New York, the South Asian Bar Association of New York, the Muslim Bar Association of New York, and the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean Bar Association of Queens.

From left: Hon. Alicea Elloras-Ally, Hon. Shahabuddeen “Shah” Ally, and Hon. Joseph Zayas.
Presiding Justice Hector LaSalle offers compelling remarks during the Hon. Randall T. Eng Award ceremony.
Speakers, honorees, and sponsors of the inaugural Hon. Randall T. Eng Award ceremony at the Appellate Division, Second Department.

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