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Patricia Lee appointed as a justice of the Nevada Supreme Court

Patricia Lee appointed as a justice of the Nevada Supreme Court

Posted November. 24, 2022 07:50,   

Updated November. 24, 2022 07:50


Patricia Lee, born in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province to a Black military father and a native Korean mother has been appointed as a justice of the Nevada Supreme Court. Governor of Nevada Steve Sisolak announced the appointment of Lee to the Nevada Supreme Court on Monday (local time), adding that her wide-ranging skills and professional experiences were highly valued. This was the first time an Asian American was appointed to serve on the Nevada Supreme Court.

In her letter of acceptance to the judicial selection commission, Lee wrote about her difficult childhood and that her birth was not welcomed in South Korea as her father was Black, and she was criticized for being biracial. At four, she moved to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with her family. However, her father developed alcohol dependence after discharge from the military, and her parents divorced when she was seven.

She wrote in the letter that she took care of two younger brothers on behalf of her mother, who barely spoke English. She had to fill in documents to receive Supplemental Security Income from the age of seven and moved two to three times a year. She was relieved when she and her family were taken into a shelter after living on the street, thinking she finally had a home.

She moved out of home when she was 15 due to the abuse of her mother’s then-partner. While she stayed in friends’ places during high school, she was a school president and the captain of a cheerleading team and maintained top academic performance to receive a scholarship. Then, she entered the University of Southern California, where she served as the president of Black students. After graduating from the George Washington University Law School, she began working as a lawyer in 2002, mainly taking care of complex commercial suits, patent law, and family lawsuits.

Lee’s term on the Nevada Supreme Court is until January 2025. She was appointed to fill the vacant seat by Justice Abbi Silver, who didn’t finish her term and stepped down in September. A typical term in office for the Nevada Supreme Court, which has seven seats, is six years, but the state’s governor appoints a successor to serve for the remaining term of a predecessor in case of vacancy.

Min Kim kimmin@donga.com