The Japanese American Bar Association (JABA) announced that its annual Installation and Awards Gala will feature Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Sabrina Shizue McKenna as keynote speaker and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena) as an award recipient.

Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Sabrina Shizue McKenna

The gala will be held on Friday, March 9, at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

“We’re delighted to have two such prominent public figures at our gala,” said JABA President Audra Mori. “Both Justice McKenna and Congressman Schiff have very inspirational stories to share with our community.”

McKenna was sworn in as a justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court on March 3, 2011. Born and raised in Japan, she attended the University of Hawaii on a basketball scholarship as one of the first beneficiaries of the Patsy Takemoto Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act (fka Title IX).  She went on to graduate from the University of Hawaii School of Law, where she served as editor in chief of the Law Review.

McKenna was a civil litigator, corporate counsel, and law professor before becoming a trial court judge in 1993. A legal trailblazer, she is the first openly gay member of the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Schiff, who represents the 29th Congressional District, introduced legislation to honor veterans of the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and Military Intelligence Service (MIS) with the Congressional Gold Medal. On Nov. 2, 2011, those Japanese American World War II veterans received their recognition at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Schiff said, “Their true heroism lies in how they fought for the values of America — equality, justice, and opportunity — even when those values were denied them at home.”

Rep. Adam Schiff

The JABA Gala is an annual celebration at which distinguished members in the community are honored and the JABA Board is installed. Hundreds of lawyers, judges, elected officials, businesspersons, and members of the Japanese American community attend. Past speakers and honorees include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, and Sen. Daniel Inouye. JABA is the only Japanese American bar association in the country and one of the oldest Asian American bar associations.

The JABA Educational Foundation will also hold a silent auction to raise scholarship funds for deserving law students. Entertainment will be provided by Mika Todd.

Gala sponsors include Perkins Coie; Union Bank; Greenberg Glusker; Seki, Nishimura and Watase; Munger Tolles; and Crowell & Moring. Individual tickets are $125. For sponsorship information, contact Audra Mori at or James Toma at For more information on JABA, visit

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  1. Thank you for letting us know. Our apologies for the mistake.

  2. Justice McKenna is not the “Chief” Justice but is a Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court so please remove “Chief” from the headline. Thank you! – James Toma