Honorees Kirk Nakamura, Sam Ohta and Holly Fujie

The Japanese American Bar Association presents the Judges’ Night Reception on Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Kyoto Garden, DoubleTree by Hilton, 120 S. Los Angeles St., Little Tokyo.

Members of the bench and bar will honor Kirk H. Nakamura, presiding judge of the Orange County Superior Court, and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judges Sam Ohta and Holly J. Fujie.

Registration at 5:30 p.m., program at 6:30 p.m. $25 for JABA members, $40 for non-members, gratis for judges and commissioners. RSVP by Aug. 23 via greenenvelope.com. Info: sroe@pubdef.lacounty.gov.

Kirk Nakamura was elected presiding judge, and Erick L. Larsh assistant presiding judge, in an uncontested election for the two top posts of he Superior Court of California, County of Orange. Nakamura began his two-year term on Jan. 1, 2019. Previously, he served as assistant presiding judge. He was appointed by Gov. Gray Davis as a judge of the Orange County Superior Court in 2001.

Nakamura graduated from Duke University School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree in 1980 and from UC Irvine with a Bachelor of Science degree in biological science in 1977.

A recipient of the Outstanding Service Award from the Orange County Asian American Bar Association in 2008, he is a former president of the Orange County Japanese American Lawyers Association, Orange County Asian American Bar Association, William P. Gray/Lex Legion Inn of Court, and California Asian Pacific American Judges Association. He was a board member of the Orange County Bar Association and California Judges Association. He was awarded the Trailblazer Award from the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

Sam Ohta is a judge with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, currently assigned as the supervising judge of the Criminal Division. Previously, he served as the assistant supervising judge of the Criminal Division, supervising judge of Traffic Operations, assistant supervising judge at the Central Arraignment Court, and site judge at the Metropolitan Courthouse.

Prior to his current administrative role, Ohta served for seven years as a long-cause trial judge on Complex Criminal Trial Panel, better known as the “9th Floor” at the Criminal Justice Center. In 2018, Ohta was selected by the chief justice of California to serve as a member of the Pretrial Operations Reform Working Group. He is a past member of the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Executive Committee and currently serves on the Personnel and Budget Committee.

Ohta was appointed as a judge in 1998 by Gov. Pete Wilson. Prior to his appointment, he served with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office as a deputy district attorney in the Hardcore Gang Division, prosecuting gang homicides. Ohta also served with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office as agency general counsel for the Community Redevelopment Agency and worked as a corporate attorney with the firm Jones Day.

Ohta graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a B.A. and earned his law degree from Loyola Law School. He is a faculty member for California Judicial Education and Research on topics such as felony sentencing, advanced felony sentencing, sex crimes sentencing, trial management, jury selection and jury instructions. He is also a faculty member for Judicial Education Series of the Los Angeles Superior Court and served as an adjunct professor of law on criminal law and constitutional law for Glendale University College of Law.

Holly Fujie is a graduate of UC Berkeley and of the UC Berkeley School of Law. She was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011 to the Los Angeles Superior Court, and currently sits in a civil, independent calendar court in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse.

Prior to her appointment to the bench, Fujie was a shareholder of the Los Angeles-based law firm Buchalter Nemer, and was named by The Daily Journal as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Lawyers in California and one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Southern California.

A true trailblazer, Fujie was the first Asian American to serve as president of the State Bar of California in 2008-2009. She is currently chair of the California State Bar’s Council on Access and Fairness and chair of the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Community Outreach Committee. Fujie also serves on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Judicial Selection Advisory Committee for Los Angeles County.

Fujie is a member of the American Law Institute (ALI) and serves as an advisor to the Restatement of the Law: Children and the Law. She also sits on the boards of the Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance of Los Angeles, Continuing Education of the Bar and the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles; on the advisory boards of the Japanese American Bar Association and the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles; and as senior advisor to the Los Angeles MultiCultural Bar Alliance.

Since 1993, Fujie has been a member of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Judicial Advisory Committee for the Central District of California, serving as its chair from 2008 until her appointment to the bench, and advising the senator and the White House on judicial and U.S. attorney appointments.

Fujie has received many awards for her service to the profession, including JABA’s Public Service Award, NAPABA’s Trailblazer Award, the California State Bar’s Diversity Pipeline Award, California Women Lawyers’ Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award, and the National Association of Women Lawyers’ M. Ashley Dickerson Diversity Award.

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