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Retired judge Yim Cowett to receive Asian Heritage Award

Retired San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia A. Yim Cowett will be honored with the Asian Heritage Society’s Award in Government and Legal Service during the 10th Annual Gala Ceremony Sept. 14, at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina.

Judge Cowett will join 11 other recipients in categories ranging from entrepreneurship to science and technology, along with UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla, this year’s Special Recognition Honoree.

As the first Chinese-American female jurist in the United States, Judge Cowett devoted her professional and private life to breaking down barriers. She was one of the founding members of the California Women Lawyers, an organization advocating for the rights of women, and also helped found the National Association of Women Judges.

Judge Cowett was appointed to the Municipal Court by then Gov. Jerry Brown in 1979 after earning her law degree from UC Davis and embarking upon a distinguished career as a litigator.

When the Municipal and Superior courts in California were merged in 1999, she was elevated to the Superior Court bench, where she remained until her retirement.

In addition to fostering diversity, Judge Cowett has distinguished herself as a leader and innovator for Asian Americans by serving as the first president of the Pan Asian Lawyers of San Diego and in being selected as a regional “Trailblazer” by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.

“There are few who have committed themselves to the advancement of women, in particular Asian American women, than Judge Cowett,” according to the nomination submitted by the Lawyers Club of San Diego.

In 2008, the Lawyers Club bestowed its most prestigious distinction upon her, the Belva Lockwood Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the law and commitment to equality. In receiving the Joan Dempsey Klein Distinguished Jurist Award for judicial excellence, Justice Klein called Judge Cowett an “extraordinarily courageous” woman and praised her career as a role model and mentor to Asian-American law students.

For more information about the Asian Heritage Awards, or to reserve a seat or table, or to sponsor any part of the event, visit asianheritageawards.com.

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