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Judge Chin's Immigrant Journey Recalled in 'Pathways to Bench' Video

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U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Denny Chin, a Chinese immigrant who grew up in a Hell's Kitchen tenement, is the subject of a newly released Pathways to the Bench video profile, the eighth in a video series in which federal judges talk about challenges that helped prepare them to serve justice.

Judge Chin, who joined the Second Circuit bench in 2010, recalls how he moved from Hong Kong to New York City at the age of 2. His grandfather and father both worked in Chinese restaurants in New York City, while his mother worked as a seamstress in Chinatown's garment district. Chin slept with his four siblings in the living room of a one-bedroom apartment, a situation he said was common in his neighborhood.

"The law naturally appealed to me, in part because of the challenges we faced growing up," Judge Chin recalls in the video. "One of the best things I did as a judge over the years was to preside over the naturalization ceremony. … I would tell the new citizens about my grandfather. … I would literally take his naturalization petition, which I have framed in my chambers, and hold it up to the citizens."

Judge Chin was appointed district judge in the Southern District of New York in 1994 before being nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. At both levels, Judge Chin was the first Asian American federal judge outside the Ninth Circuit.

The series of four-minute Pathways to the Bench vignettes can be used with high school students and youth groups to encourage them to overcome the inevitable obstacles on the way to their dreams. To learn more, visit the following links: