Would it behoove you to think that at an Asian American could be a judge? haha!
History was made last week with the confirmation of Austin’s first Asian-American judge.
At a swearing in ceremony on Feb. 5 at City Hall, Ramey Ko was one of four new municipal court judges to be selected to serve. A total of 24 municipal judges were appointed or reappointed by the city.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez praised the qualifications of all the judges, but also highlighted the special significance of appointing Austin’s first Asian-American judge.
“It is my belief that our court system must reflect our community, and today we are taking another step in making sure our court system mirrors our community,” Martinez said.
Ko will serve in a part-time, four-year term position as a substitute municipal judge.
A municipal judge presides over a municipal court, which handles cases concerning Class C misdemeanor criminal charges, including traffic tickets and public intoxication. Municipal judges may issue search or arrest warrants and also may issue Emergency Protective Orders, which are orders for a person to keep away from someone.
Each of the four new judges were given the opportunity to select someone special to present their judicial robes to them. Ko acknowledged his parents Eric and Eileen Ko and had his mother present his robe.
“Without their support, I couldn’t have had this opportunity today,” Ko said. “They took the difficult risk of coming to this country and now I have the chance to give back to everything they have done and everything this country has given me.”
Ko is a local attorney, political activist and graduate of Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School. He cofounded the Capital Area Asian-American Democrats, founded Asian-Americans for Obama and is active among other state and national political organizations.
Ko received national attention when he testified against the so-called Voter ID bill (SB 362) at the Texas State Capitol last year. During his testimony, State Rep. Betty Brown (R-Terrell) suggested that Asian-Americans adopt names that are "easier for Americans to deal with" when they vote since Chinese is a "rather difficult language" to learn. Ko, who is an American citizen, was explaining the confusion that may arise when various spellings are used in translating foreign names into English and did not suggest that anyone would need to learn Chinese.