Lorna Schofield takes oath, becomes first FilAm Article III U.S. federal court judge

At her Senate judicial committee hearing: Respected for her unparalleled legal acumen and real-world pragmatism

At her Senate judicial committee hearing: Respected for her unparalleled legal acumen and real-world pragmatism

By Rio Guerrero

The investiture of Lorna G. Schofield took place on March 28th, at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), in its ceremonial court room on the ninth floor at 500 Pearl Street in Manhattan.

Present were Lorna’s partner Stephan Landsman, and her daughter, as well as over one hundred of Lorna’s closest friends and colleagues. U.S. Senator for the State of New York Charles E. Schumer, who recommended Lorna to President Barack Obama for appointment to the federal district court bench was also present, along with other political and judicial luminaries including the Honorable Mary Jo White, the first woman to ever serve as U.S. Attorney for the SDNY.

The Chief U.S. District Court Judge for the SDNY, the Honorable Loretta A. Preska, presided over this momentous event with judges of the SDNY in robes seated behind her. A proclamation for this occasion issued by President Barack Obama, who appointed Lorna to this court was read aloud for those in attendance. As Lorna stood at the counselor’s table, she raised her right hand and swore to uphold the significant duties and responsibilities of her post. She was adorned with her robes by her daughter and then climbed the stairs to sit alongside her judicial peers alongside the Chief Judge. And, with that — a ceremony that lasted no more than 20 minutes — a person of Philippine descent now serves for the first time in the history of this country as an Article III U.S. federal court judge.

During the reception that followed on the eighth floor, distinguished guests including Senator Schumer, and Temple University Beasley School of Law Dean JoAnne A. Epps delivered remarks, sharing inspiring and funny stories about Lorna with those in attendance. But it was her partner Stephan Landsman, a visiting professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, who acknowledged Lorna’s Philippine heritage. He described Lorna’s journey as the immigrant promise fulfilled for Lorna’s mother — a Filipina who immigrated to the U.S. after World War II to be with her U.S. military veteran husband and to raise her family.

Speaking with Lorna after much of those in attendance had finally left I told her I felt like her “fan” or a “groupie.” Of course, with her modesty she laughed off my comment and graciously thanked me for my support. But clearly it was me who needed to thank her — and so I did.

She serves as a beacon for me and so many others in the Filipino community — whether building their careers in the legal community or not. Now, we all can tell our children that they too can dream and accomplish the loftiest goal of serving as a U.S. federal court judge — to preside over the most difficult criminal and civil cases of the land, to adjudicate some of the most complex U.S. Constitutional law questions and intellectual property law issues of their day.

I was honored to witness a friend and colleague ascend to this esteemed position in the federal judiciary. Moreover, as a Filipino American I am proud to have been a witness to history.

Not only may Lorna serve as an Article III judge for the remainder of her lifetime, she shall sit on the bench of the SDNY — one of the most esteemed courts in our country. The SDNY can boast that some of the most brilliant minds in history have sat on its bench, including current 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Denny Chin, the legendary 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Learned Hand, and current U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

We are supremely confident that Lorna – respected for her unparalleled legal acumen and real world pragmatism — will discharge her duties with tremendous skill, fairness, and empathy. We are excited to watch with pride as her legacy grows.

Rio Guerrero is a partner at Guerrero Yee, LLP. Last year, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) presented him with the coveted Best Lawyers Under 40 national award.

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One Comment

  1. Vonnie O wrote:

    Awesome article.

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