Student Affairs

Korematsu Lecture

The Korematsu Lecture series was started in 2000 by a group of NYU law students who wished to create a lecture series in honor of Japanese internment challenger Fred Korematsu. The lecture provides a forum to address Asian American perspectives on the law and to honor Asian Americans who have substantially contributed to the development of the law while challenging the status quo.

This year’s special guest will be Judge Lorna G. Schofield, who was confirmed by a unanimous US Senate vote as a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York on December 13, 2012. She is the first Filipino-American to serve as an Article III federal judge. 

Previously, Judge Schofield was a litigation partner at the international law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP from 1991 to 2011.  Her practice focused on litigation in complex commercial matters. She was an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP from 1981 to 1984. From 1984 to 1988, Judge Schofield served as an Assistant US Attorney in the Criminal Division of the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. 

She is a former chair of the American Bar Association Section of Litigation, in which she held many leadership positions over twenty years. She has written and spoken frequently about trial tactics and women in the legal profession.

Judge Schofield received her BA magna cum laude from Indiana University and her JD from New York University in 1981, where she was an editor of the New York University Law Review.

This year’s lecture is titled “A New Judge and an Old Problem: A View of Bias from the Bench.” The rule of law depends on independent and fair application of the law, without favor, bias or prejudice. It is the ideal for which the American justice system strives, for which it is celebrated, and – when it falls short – for which it is criticized. 

Two years ago, when Judge Schofield became the first Filipina-American Article III judge, she took this ideal for granted. What she has seen is something more nuanced, a system that struggles to overcome the inevitable and long recognized biases of juries and judges. Her talk will address some of the challenges she encounters from her seat on the bench.

As a foundation Judge Schofield will review several types of biases that have been analyzed in the academic literature. Regarding juries, she will discuss the process of selecting the jury and how it attempts to ensure impartiality but targets only explicit bias and those who are “too close.” She will discuss possible changes to voir dire, the part of jury selection that is most flexible and most within my control as the judge. Regarding judges, she will discuss implicit bias, what she thinks it means in the context of being an Asian-American and female judge, and what might be done about it. 

This year’s Korematsu Lecture will be held on March 31, 2015 at 6:00 p.m., Vanderbilt Hall, Greenberg Lounge. To RSVP, click here