“Justice Chin has long been a leader on matters of statewide judicial administration, chairing both the visionary Commission for Impartial Courts and the statewide Technology Advisory Committee,” the Chief Justice said. “He has that invaluable combination of deep knowledge, vision, and collegiality that helps the judicial branch collaborate, self-assess, deliberate, and move forward. I look forward to his contributions on the council.”
Justice Chin has served as associate justice of the California Supreme Court since 1996, when he was appointed by Governor Pete Wilson. He was confirmed by the voters in 2010. Before his appointment to the Supreme Court, he served on the First District Court of Appeal, Division Three in San Francisco, first appointed in August 1990 by Governor George Deukmejian, and in 1994 appointed by Governor Wilson to serve as its Presiding Justice.
Before his elevation to the Court of Appeal, he served as a judge of the Alameda County Superior Court, beginning in 1988. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Justice Chin was a partner in an Oakland law firm, where he specialized in business and commercial litigation.
He has served on a number of Judicial Council committees and task forces. From 2007 to 2010, he chaired the California Commission for Impartial Courts. The commission’s wide-ranging recommendations for safeguarding judicial quality, impartiality, and accountability in California paved the way for numerous initiatives, including the Chief Justice’s Power of Democracy civic engagement campaign.
Justice Chin also chaired the Court Technology Advisory Committee for nearly a decade, through which he gained a reputation for vision and knowledge about the importance of technology in improving public service and access and making the courts more efficient. He served on the Judicial Council Appellate Advisory Committee (1993–1996), the Advisory Committee on Racial and Ethnic Bias (1990–1997), and chaired the Science and the Law Steering Committee (2005–2007).
Justice Chin also has served on many committees of state and local bar associations and was the first Asian-American to serve as President of the Alameda County Bar Association in its more than 100-year history.
Justice Chin earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of San Francisco, and he has been an active supporter of his alma mater for many years. He served as a member of USF’s Board of Trustees as well as USF Law School’s Board of Counselors, and served an Adjunct Professor of Law. The USF Alumni Association presented him a distinguished service award in 1985, and in 1988, he was selected as the USF Alumnus of the Year; in 1993, he was named USF Law School Alumnus of the Year; and in 1996 USF Law School presented him with the St. Thomas More Award.
After graduating from law school, Justice Chin served two years as a Captain in the United States Army, including a year in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and the Bronze Star. He then served three years as a deputy district attorney for Alameda County.
According to the state Constitution, the Chief Justice chairs the Judicial Council and appoints one other Supreme Court justice, three justices from the courts of appeal, 10 trial court judges, two nonvoting court administrators, “and any other nonvoting members as determined by the voting membership of the council.” Members serve three years, and new council members typically begin serving in September. The State Bar’s governing body appoints four members, and the state Senate and Assembly each appoint one member. The council currently has 12 advisory members.