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First lesbian Asian-American confirmed to federal bench

WASHINGTON – Pamela Chen has been confirmed by the Senate and will become the first lesbian Asian-American judge on the federal bench.

Judge Chen will serve on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

President Barack Obama nominated Chen in August 2012 at the recommendation of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), but the Senate delayed taking action on her nomination along with four others.

Chen’s father was born near Shanghai, China and her mother in Changsha, China. The couple met at the University of Chicago during World War II.

After earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of Michigan, Chen obtained her law degree at Georgetown University Law School. After working for law firms on civil litigation cases, Chen shifted to a career in public service in 1991, joining the Justice Department for eight years.

Chen most recently was chief of the Civil Rights Section’s Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. Among her duties was to provide training to federal law enforcement on human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad. Since 2008, Chen served as the Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement at New York State’s Division for Human Rights.