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Jacqueline H. Nguyen - CONFIRMED
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
On September 22, 2011, President Obama nominated Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen, born in 1965, to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Nguyen currently sits on the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California, a seat to which she was unanimously confirmed by a Senate vote of 97-0 on December 1, 2009. President Obama has said, “Judge Nguyen has been a trailblazer, displaying an outstanding commitment to public service throughout her career,” stating that he is “honored to nominate her . . . for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals and confident she will serve the American people with fairness and integrity.”
Jacqueline Hong-Ngoc Nguyen was born in Dalat, Vietnam in 1965. At the age of nine, she fled Vietnam with her family during the fall of Saigon; upon arriving in the United States, her family lived for a time in a refugee tent city at Camp Pendleton before settling in the Los Angeles area.2 She received her A.B. from Occidental College in 1987, and her J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 1991. From 1991-1994, Judge Nguyen worked as a litigation associate at Musick, Peeler & Garrett LLP. From 1995 to 2002, she worked in the United States Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. Serving in the criminal division as an Assistant United States Attorney, she worked as a federal prosecutor in the General Crimes section from 1995-1996 and in the Public Corruption and Government Fraud section from 1996-1999. In 1999, Judge Nguyen joined the Organized Crime Strike Force, serving there for six months until she took on the role of the General Crimes section’s Deputy Chief from 2000-2002.
In 2002, she was appointed to serve on the state bench as a Judge of the Superior Court of the County of Los Angeles, becoming the first female Vietnamese-American judge in California’s history. In July 2009, President Obama nominated Judge Nguyen to her current seat on the bench of the Central District of California in Los Angeles; she is the first Vietnamese-American to serve on the federal bench. If confirmed to the Ninth Circuit, she will be the United States’ first Asian Pacific American woman to serve as a federal appellate court judge and one of only two Asian Pacific Americans actively serving in the nation’s federal Courts of Appeals.
Judge Nguyen has ample experience both as a lawyer and as a judge with both civil and criminal cases. In private practice, she represented clients in civil matters involving commercial disputes, intellectual property, and construction defects. She specialized as an Assistant United States Attorney in prosecuting violent crimes, organized crime, narcotics trafficking, gun cases, and complex fraud issues involving smuggling, immigration fraud, mail fraud, and tax fraud. She was the lead attorney in a 2000 case resulting in the United States’ first conviction for providing material support and resources to a designated terrorist organization, and in 2002 she prosecuted what the U.S. Customs Service described as its largest commercial smuggling case. She worked as the Fraud Coordinator for the Department of Defense, overseeing all of the Department’s fraud prosecutions in the Central District of California and providing planning and training to officials from numerous agencies on coordinating investigations and prosecutions. While working in the Organized Crime Strike Force for six months in 2000, she took part in investigating an organized crime group smuggling sex slaves into the United States.
While on the bench, Judge Nguyen has presided over thousands of cases, with more than 75 resulting in jury trials and 12 in bench trials. Her case load has split 40%/60% between civil and criminal proceedings. Notable cases over which she has presided include intellectual property and trademark issues, murder trials, and certification of class actions.
Professional and Academic Activities
Judge Nguyen was admitted to the California Bar in 1991 and retained her membership until her appointment as a state judge; California’s constitution mandates that a person serving as a judge in a court of record cannot be considered a member of the State Bar while in office. She is a founding member of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association and is a member of the United States District Court for the Central District of California Court Services Committee. She is the recipient of numerous awards from legal associations, including the Women’s Leadership Award, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (2010), and the Trailblazer Award from both the National Conference of Vietnamese American Attorneys (2009) and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (2006).
Professional honors have included the Director’s Award from the Department of Justice for “Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney” (2009), a special award for the prosecution of Operation Permit to Smuggle, which was the “largest commercial smuggling case in the history of the U.S. Customs Service” (2002), and a commendation from U.S Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas for Efforts in Prosecution of Health Care Fraud (2000).
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