Profession (s): Judge, Litigation Trial Lawyer
Education: B.A., Political Science, 1964, University of San Francisco; JD, 1967, University of San Francisco, School of Law
Award(s): 1969, the Army Commendation Medal; 1969, Bronze Star; 1985, distinguished service award from the USF Alumni Association; 1988, USF Alumnus of the Year; 1989, Outstanding Judge of the Year by the Southern Alameda County Bar Association; 1993, USF Law School Alumnus of the Year; 1996, St. Thomas More Award from the USF Law School; 1997, Learned Hand Award from the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the American Jewish Committee; 1997, Legal Impact Award from the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California; 1998, Public Service & Government Leadership Award from the Asian Business Association; 1999, Trailblazer Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association; 2006, Promoting Diversity Through Judicial Excellence from the California Minority Counsel Program; 2006, Commitment to Community Award from the Asian Pacific Bar Association of Silicon Valley; 2007, Legal Impact Award from the Asian Law Alliance.
Contribution(s): California Supreme Court Associate Justice Chin has had a pioneering legal career, he was among the first judges to admit DNA evidence in criminal trials, surrogate parenting and environmental liability issues. He had served two years as an Army officer during the Vietnam War before taking the bar exam. He spent one year in Vietnam, where he was promoted to the rank of captain. As an Associate Justice, he has been praised by his peers for his involved questioning, especially during debates and for his open-mindedness. The Judge authored the most majority opinions at the Supreme Court during 1997, his first full term. Justice Chin has authored landmark decisions in areas such as DNA, toxic tort insurance coverage, surrogate parents, and hate crimes. He lectures on DNA, genetics and the courts to his peers locally, and internationally.
Justice Chin began his career as a business litigation trial lawyer, working for Aiken Kramer & Cummings in 1973. He was head of the firm’s litigation department, where he focused on defense-oriented business cases. He eventually became a partner, the first Asian-American partner of a major Oakland law firm. In 1988, he was appointed to the Alameda County Superior Court, where he learned the intricacies of family law in a matter of weeks. In 1994, he was appointed to the California Supreme Court as an Associate Justice for a twelve year term. He was also president of the California Commonwealth Club.