HABA at the MNAPABA Gala!

HABA was a nonprofit partner for the 2017 MNAPABA Gala!  The HABA board and members had the pleasure of sitting with Judge Starr, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, and 6th Judicial District Chief Public Defender Dan Lew.  Thank you to outgoing president Ben Kwan for his leadership and friendship to HABA!  Congratulations and good luck to Melitta Drechsler, 2018-2019 MNAPABA President!  We look forward to working with Melitta to improve our APA legal community.  The conversations were thought-provoking and the event was wonderfully executed.  HABA is looking forward to joining MNAPABA next year for the 2018 Gala.

HABA September Social

We had a terrific showing at the Fall 2017 social.  Thank you to James Song and PaHoua Yang for graciously opening their home for us to hang out and get to know each other.  Folks got to show us their great voices and participate in fun couples therapy!

Thanks for coming to the HABA Picnic 2017

The HABA family got a nice dose of sunshine on June 3rd, 2017 at the annual HABA Picnic.  We enjoyed delicious ribs, papaya salad, fruit, noodles, and other mouth-watering picnic food!  Many of us realized that kickball was a much harder sport than we remembered in 5th grade.  Thank you to everyone who attended, brought something to share, or helped cook food.  We look forward to seeing you next year!

Full house at the April 19, 2017 HABA CLE

Despite the heavy rain and traffic, folks managed to get to Hmong Village to listen to our distinguished speakers discuss courtroom decorum, Rule 20, and specialty courts in Minnesota.  Attendees had thoughtful questions about how to address a retired judge, the frustrations with Rule 20, and qualifications for specialty courts in Ramsey County.  Attendees had a wonderful opportunity to mingle and learn from many years of experience.

Thank you to all who attended and to our presenters: The Honorable Gary Bastian; Willow Anderson, Esq; and Jack Rice, Esq.

Nation’s Second Hmong American Judge is Elected in Milwaukee County

Congratulations to Kristy Yang from the members of the Hmong American Bar Association!


Nation’s second Hmong-American judge is elected in Milwaukee County

Link to the Article

Bruce Vielmetti , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 9:06 p.m. CT April 4, 2017 | Updated 11:01 a.m. CT April 5, 2017

An Oak Creek lawyer who came to America as a child refugee was elected to the Milwaukee County Circuit Court on Tuesday, becoming only the second Hmong-American jurist in the nation.

Kashoua “Kristy” Yang, of Oak Creek, defeated Scott Wales of Fox Point in the race for an open seat in Branch 47, whose incumbent John Siefert announced last year he would not seek re-election.

Both lawyers were first-time candidates for circuit judge.

Yang, her parents and most of her 10 siblings were gathered at Bounce Milwaukee on the south side to watch returns, and celebrate her win.

“I don’t know that I was confident,” she said, “but I knew what I had to do — reach out to voters — and I felt good about what I was doing.”

The only other Hmong-American judge in the country, Paul Lo, has been on the Merced County Superior Court in California since 2014. He appeared at a fund-raiser for Yang.

Wales, 55, stressed his nearly 30 years of legal experience while Yang, 36, told voters about the hard work and values that helped her rise from a child refugee to running her own law practice.

Yang brought little to no traditional trial court experience to the race, as she’s practiced in family law mediation and Social Security disability and workers’ compensation since graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 2009.

Wales’ campaign stressed trial work as a criminal defense attorney, plus his eight years as the part-time municipal judge in Fox Point and his 25 years as a paralegal studies instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College as a huge edge in practical experience.

But Yang brought an inspiring backstory to the race: She came to the United States as a 6-year-old refugee from Laos with her parents. She grew up in Sheboygan with 10 siblings, married young, divorced and worked her way through college as a single mother.

Yang earned a computer science degree with honors from Lakeland College, then worked six years in customer service and supply chain logistics at Kohler, a job that required travel around the United States and abroad before going to law school.

After about 10 years apart, she remarried her ex-husband and moved to the Milwaukee area.

Yang ran a TV spot that featured how she came here at age six with her family from Laos via a refugee camp in Thailand, and the only English she knew was, “Pepsi, please.” She said she got “overwhelmingly positive” feedback from voters about the spot.

Wales’ campaign forced him to publicly talk about a childhood birth defect, Moebius syndrome, that left his face and tongue partially paralyzed, something that led to childhood bullying until extensive work with a therapist helped him speak normally. He said constant questions about why he wasn’t smiling in his campaign photo prompted him to explain his condition, and turn it into a challenge he overcame.

Wales grew up on the North Shore and has practiced law more than 25 years in Wisconsin, mostly in criminal defense, and as the part-time municipal judge in Fox Point, where he lives. Numerous judges, prosecutors and other lawyers endorsed his candidacy.

The 47 circuit judges in Milwaukee County rotate among divisions that hear misdemeanor and felony crimes, family law cases, probate, small claims, general civil and children’s court matters. Judges serve six-year terms and earn about $132,000 annually.