US & World

Southern California judge questioned by Senate Judiciary Committee

Judge Jacqueline Nguyen at Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Nov. 2, 2011.
Judge Jacqueline Nguyen at Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Nov. 2, 2011.
Kitty Felde/KPCC
Judge Jacqueline Nguyen at Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Nov. 2, 2011.
Judge Jacqueline Nguyen and family at Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Nov. 2, 2011.
Kitty Felde/KPCC


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The first Vietnamese-American on the federal bench brought friends and family to Washington today for moral support as she answered questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee. The president has nominated U.S. District Court Judge Jacqueline Nguyen to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

When she was 10 years old, Jacqueline Nguyen escaped from Vietnam with her family. After resettling in Southern California, they worked together cleaning dental offices and operating the donut shop they owned.

Nguyen told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that her life experience doesn’t change the law, but it does help to form her judicial temperament. "It gives me an appropriate sense of humility when I review the facts of each case," she said. "I have an understanding and appreciation of how intimidating the court system can be."

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa questioned Nguyen about the one reversal in her judicial career — a three-strike case she chose to make a two-strike conviction. Grassley asked whether it was fair for him to conclude "that you don’t have any personal reservations or views that would prevent you from enforcing three-strike laws?"

Judge Nguyen replied, "I do not, Senator."

Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California urged her fellow members of the Judiciary Committee to confirm Nguyen. "She has everything and all the experience to make an excellent addition to the Ninth Circuit."

The Senate Judiciary Committee, and then the full Senate, must approve Nguyen’s nomination to the Ninth Circuit. Nearly two dozen judicial nominees await Senate confirmation.