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Georgia's First Asian American Superior Court Judge Makes a Notation in History

December 23, 2014
Contact: E. Stephenie Jones or amedia12@gmail.com

Judge Meng Lim: From Refugee to Relief . . . An Asian American Story

The Hon. Meng H. Lim became the first elected Asian American Superior Court judge in Georgia on July 22. Judge Lim was sworn in as a new judge before the beginning of his official term in a local ceremony on Dec. 4, before family, friends and supporters. Judge Lim will be officially sworn in on Jan. 15, 2015, in Polk County, Ga., by Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson.

According to a biographical sketch published on www.gradickcommunications.com, Lim was born on March 28, 1972, in Cambodia in Southeast Asia. At the age of 9, while he and his parents and siblings were Cambodian Chinese refugees, the family fled war-torn Southeast Asia. Lim detailed vividly how the entire family walked for a month in order to escape possible capture by crossing into Thailand.

The Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta finally sponsored Lim’s family to come to the United States, according to the website’s report. The family eventually settled in Bremen, Ga., in Haralson County, where he went to high school and eventually became the 1991 valedictorian of Bremen High School, even though Lim spoke almost no English when he first arrived in this country. He was accepted by Emory University under the Georgia Governor’s Scholarship, and received a B.A. in History in 1995. With a scholarship, Lim advanced his education by attending Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law and earned his J.D. degree in 1998.
 
The website’s report stated that Lim returned to his native Haralson County after graduating from law school to start his legal career. Ironically, he began his career as an attorney clerking for the same Superior Court to which he will now serve as judge. Lim credits his days as a law clerk as one of the defining moments of his career. When asked why he chose that particular justice system, Lim replied, “I learned so much working for these judges as a law clerk. I was trained to understand the operations and procedures of a Superior Court judge both inside the courtroom and the judge’s chambers. I also recognized in addition to being the inevitable umpire for two battling lawyers, a good judge must possess a talented administrative ability to deal with the inherently huge caseload that overwhelms our courts. It demands someone with a tireless work ethic. It is not comforting for someone to wait in court all day only to be told to go home without having an opportunity to address his or her concerns.”

When Lim completed his judicial clerkship he started a solo practice in his local community. As a small town lawyer, he gained more than 15 years of trial experience and was later appointed as Haralson County attorney in 2005. In this vital position, he began making a name for himself by handling more than 900 cases as lead attorney before the Superior Court. He gained a reputation among his peers as “a lawyer with backbone.”

“Judge Lim’s strength of character is evidence of his continued determination and dedication to serving the justice system and the public in the face of his humble beginnings,” State Bar of Georgia President Patrise M. Perkins-Hooker remarked. “I applaud his accomplishments and wish him success in his role as Superior Court judge. It is well noted that Lim’s victory advances diversity in Georgia’s judiciary, such that the justice system more closely reflects the population of our state.”

Judge Lim is actively involved with numerous organizations throughout the greater Atlanta community, including the Veterans Association, the Concerned Veterans for America and the Optimist Club. He is also an active member of Providence Baptist Church in Tallapoosa.

The Southeast’s first Asian American State Court Judge Alvin T. Wong of DeKalb County commented recently about his associate and friend by saying, “I am excited about his election which resulted in Judge Lim becoming the first Asian-Pacific judge on the Superior Court bench. It’s been a long time, nearly 14 years since my judgeship appointment, so I’m proud of the progress that’s being made in this area. And Judge Meng Lim is simply a delightful fellow.”

He is also the proud father of two children and enjoys spending time fishing and camping with his children.

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The State Bar of Georgia, with offices in Atlanta, Savannah and Tifton, was established in 1964 by Georgia's Supreme Court as the successor to the voluntary Georgia Bar Association, founded in 1884. All lawyers licensed to practice in Georgia belong to the State Bar. Its more than 47,000 members work together to strengthen the constitutional promise of justice for all, promote principles of duty and public service among Georgia's lawyers, and administer a strict code of legal ethics.