Peggy Kuo, First Taiwan Born U.S. Judge

Peggy Kuo, First Taiwan Born U.S. Judge
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Peggy Kuo is now the first Taiwan-born judge in the United States. She joins other Taiwanese American judges, such as CA Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, in the U.S. judicial system.

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On January 5, Peggy Kuo was sworn as a magistrate judge for the Eastern District of New York at the Theodore Roosevelt Courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn. Born in Taiwan, Kuo is now the first Taiwan-born judge in the United States. Even though she immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 3, she does not forget her Taiwanese roots. In her speech, she thanks her parents in Taiwan for teaching her how to be a better person and encouraging her to study hard.

Born in Taiwan, a patriarchal society, it was originally a letdown that Kuo, after three elder sisters, was the fourth girl to the family. Her father had already left for the U.S. prior to Kuo’s birth, so to deliver the “bad news,” Kuo’s mother wrote, “It’s a girl. I know you’re very disappointed to get this news, but I believe if we give our daughter a very good education, she will be as good as a boy.”

From 1998 to 2002, Kuo prosecuted war crimes at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. During this time, she was the prosecutor for a trial dealing specifically with sexual violence, such as the mass rape in Bosnia. In the documentary “I came to Testify,” Kuo said that rape in war is “worth talking about and getting out there so that even if we’re not prosecuting every single rape that occurs, we’re acknowledging this is what’s happening and women’s experience during war time.”

Kuo has also been a trial attorney and acting deputy chief of the Civil Rights Division Criminal Section at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she investigated and prosecuted hate crimes and allegations of police misconduct. Kuo says, “I know what it’s like to be an outsider; I know what it’s like not to be heard, so I want to make sure everyone has an opportunity to be heard.”

Kuo joins other Taiwanese American judges, such as CA Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, in the U.S. judicial system.

Edited by Olivia Yang

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