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Associate Justice Ming W. Chin

Retired: Effective August 31, 2020

Associate Justice Ming W. Chin

On March 1, 1996, Justice Ming W. Chin became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California. Governor Pete Wilson appointed him to that position on January 25, 1996. On March 1, he was confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments and sworn in by the Governor. Justice Chin previously served as the Presiding Justice of the First District Court of Appeal, Division Three, in San Francisco beginning January 2, 1995. He was appointed to that position by Governor Pete Wilson on August 17, 1994, and in November 1994 was elected to a 12-year term. Previously he was an associate justice of that court, having been appointed to that position by former Governor George Deukmejian. Prior to that appointment, he served as a judge of the Alameda County Superior Court. Before his appointment to the bench, Justice Chin was a partner in an Oakland law firm, where he specialized in business and commercial litigation.

Justice Chin obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science as well as a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of San Francisco and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1970; he also has been admitted to practice before the federal courts, as well as the United States Tax Court. After he graduated from law school, Justice Chin served two years as a Captain in the United States Army, including a year in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and the Bronze Star. He then served three years as a deputy district attorney for Alameda County, where he tried numerous felony and misdemeanor jury trials and progressed to the position of felony trial deputy.

In 1973, Justice Chin was recruited by the Oakland law firm of Aiken, Kramer & Cummings, Incorporated, to head its trial department. He became a principal of the firm in 1976. His successful trials include two judgments in excess of one million dollars. The first was a $1.3 million judgment in an unfair competition/ wrongful termination case in the Alameda County Superior Court, and the second was a $1.2 million award in an arbitration of a construction dispute in Los Angeles.

Justice Chin has served on many committees of the state and local bar associations and was the first Asian-American to serve as President of the Alameda County Bar Association in its more than 100-year history. He was a member of the Judicial Council Appellate Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee on Racial and Ethnic Bias. He served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of San Francisco, where he was a member of the Executive Committee and chaired the Academic Affairs Committee. He was also a member of the USF Law School Board of Counselors and an Adjunct Professor of Law. The USF Alumni Association presented him a distinguished service award in 1985 for his work as a past president of that organization. In 1988, he was selected as the USF Alumnus of the Year; in 1993, he was named USF Law School Alumnus of the Year; and in 1996 USF Law School presented him with the St. Thomas More Award. Justice Chin was selected as the Outstanding Judge of the Year in 1989 by the Southern Alameda County Bar Association. The San Francisco Bay Chapter of the American Jewish Committee named him recipient of the 1997 Learned Hand Award. In 1998 he served as President of the Commonwealth Club of California.

Justice Chin has authored landmark decisions in areas such as DNA, toxic tort insurance coverage, surrogate parents, and hate crimes. He has frequently lectured on DNA, genetics, and the courts, to groups including the American Bar Association's Judicial Division, the State of California's Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER), the National College of Probate Judges, the Wisconsin Supreme Court Judicial Education Committee, and the Chulabhorn International Science Congress, Bangkok, Thailand. He is a frequent lecturer in judicial education and has delivered the Traynor Lecture at the Witkin Judicial College on four occasions, most recently in August 2014. He also spoke on behalf of the California Supreme Court in December 1996 at its memorial session honoring the late Bernard E. Witkin. He is an author of two California Practice Guides: Employment Litigation (The Rutter Group 2016) and Forensic DNA Evidence: Science and the Law (The Rutter Group 2016).


Bellarmine College Preparatory, 1960
San Jose, California

University of San Francisco
B.A., Political Science, 1964

University of San Francisco, School of Law
Juris Doctor, 1967


Supreme Court of California
Associate Justice appointed by Governor Pete Wilson, January 25, 1996
Confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, March 1, 1996
Oath of Office, March 1, 1996
Elected, 12-year term, November 2010


Court of Appeal, First District, Division Three, Presiding Justice
Appointed by Governor Pete Wilson, August 17, 1994
Confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, August 29, 1994
Oath of Office, December 2, 1994
Elected, 12-year term, November 1994

Court of Appeal, First District, Division Three, Associate Justice
Appointed by Governor George Deukmejian, August 7, 1990
Confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, August 20, 1990
Oath of Office, August 20, 1990
Elected, 12-year term, November 1990

Alameda County Superior Court, Judge
Appointed by Governor George Deukmejian, January 6,1988
Oath of Office, January 8, 1988
Elected, 6-year term, November 1990

United States Army, Captain (1967 - 1969)

  • Fort Lewis, Washington
    Chief of the Transfer Station
    U.S. Army Personnel Center
  • Fort Carson, Colorado
    Chief Personnel Officer
    1st Brigade of the 5th Division
  • Long Binh, Vietnam
    Procurement Officer
    U.S. Army Headquarters, Vietnam

United States Army Reserves, Captain (1969 - 1971)

  • 91st Division, Headquarters
    Fort Baker
    Sausalito, California

Alameda County, California
Deputy District Attorney, 1970 - 1972

Aiken, Kramer & Cummings, Inc.
Associate, 1973 - 1976
Partner, 1976 - 1988
(Specialized in business litigation and employment law counseling and litigation)


California Judges Association
Member, 1988 - present
Member, Public Information and Education Committee
Graduate, California Judges College, 1988

Judicial Council of California
Vice-Chair, Judicial Council of California
Chair, Court Technology Advisory Committee, 2002 - 2012
Chair, California Commission for Impartial Courts, 2007 - 2010
Chair, Science and the Law Steering Committee, 2005 - 2007
Member, Advisory Committee on Racial and Ethnic Bias, 1990 - 1997
Member, Appellate Advisory Committee, 1993 - 1996

State Bar of California
Delegate, Conference of Delegates, 1983 - 1986
Referee, State Bar Court, 1978, 1979
Member, Executive Committee of the State Bar Court, 1993 - 1994

Alameda County Bar Association
Member, Board of Directors, 1983 - 1988
Vice-President, 1986
President, 1987

San Francisco District Attorney's Commission on Hate Crimes
Member, 1990 - 1992


University of San Francisco
Member, Alpha Sigma Nu, National Jesuit Honor Society
Editor, USF Yearbook, 1964 (The Don)
Member, USF Alumni Board of Governors, 1978 - 1984
President, USF Alumni Association, 1983 - 1984
Member, Board of Counselors, USF School of Law, 1980 to present
Commencement Speaker, College of Professional Studies, May 1985
Member, USF Board of Trustees, 1985 - 1997
Member, Personnel Committee, 1985 - 1988
Member, Executive Committee, 1986 - 1988, 1993 - 1998
Member, Academic Affairs Committee, 1988 - 1998; Chairman of the Committee, 1993 - 1998
Adjunct Professor of Law, 1989 - 1993

Commonwealth Club of California
Member since 1978
Member, Program Committee, 1992 - present
Chairman of the Committee, 1995
Member, Board of Governors, 1993 - present
Chairman of the Executive Committee, 1996
President-elect, 1997
President, 1998

First District Agricultural Association
Member, Board of Directors, 1985 - 1988


McQuade Award for Journalism, USF, 1964

U.S. Army Commendation Medal, Quang Tri, Vietnam, 1969

The Bronze Star (U.S. Army), Long Binh, Vietnam, 1969

Distinguished Service Award, USF Alumni Association, April 1985

Alumnus of the Year, USF, 1988

Appointed by California Governor George Deukmejian as a Member of the Board of Directors, First District Agricultural Association, 1985-1988

Outstanding Judge of the Year, 1989, Southern Alameda County Bar Association

Alumnus of the Year, USF School of Law, 1993

St. Thomas More Award, USF School of Law, 1996

Honorary Doctor of Laws, Southwestern University School of Law, 1996

Honorary Doctor of Laws, Golden Gate University School of Law, 1997

Learned Hand Award, American Jewish Committee, SF Bay Chapter, 1997

Honoree for Service in the Field of Law, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association & Chinese Women's Association of America, 1997

Legal Impact Award, Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California, 1997

Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of San Diego School of Law, 1998

Honorary Doctor of Laws, Western State University School of Law, 1998

Citizen of the Year Award, Chinese Americans United for Self Empowerment, 1998

Public Service & Government Leadership Award, Asian Business Association, 1998

Trailblazer Award, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, 1999

Grand Marshall, San Gabriel Valley Lunar New Year Parade, 2000

Honorary Doctor of Laws, California Western School of Law, 2001

Honorary Doctor of Laws, Pepperdine University School of Law, 2002

United States Attorney's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Award, 2004

Distinguished Faculty Service, Judicial Council of California Education Division, 2005

Promoting Diversity Through Judicial Excellence, California Minority Counsel Program, 2006

Commitment to Community Award, Asian Pacific Bar Association of Silicon Valley, 2006

Legal Impact Award, Asian Law Alliance, 2007

Saint Thomas More Award, St. Thomas More Society of San Francisco, 2008

Jurist of the Year Award, Judicial Council of California, 2009

Lifetime Achievement Award, Orange County Asian American Bar Association, 2010


California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation (The Rutter Group 2018)

California Practice Guide: Forensic DNA (The Rutter Group 2018)

Judicial Independence: Under Attack Again? (2010) 61 Hastings L.J. 1345

Healthcare and Other Social Aspects of Genetics: a Judicial Perspective (2007) Vol. 8, No. 5, Int. J. Healthcare Technology and Management, 549.

Keynote Address: "Fairness or Bias?: A Symposium on Racial and Ethnic Composition and Attitudes in the Judiciary" (1997) 4 Asian Law Journal (Boalt Hall School of Law, U.C. Berkeley) 181

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