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Karen Lin: Democratic Candidate for Civil Court Judge in NYC Talks About her Career in the Legal Profession Ep 187

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

Karen Lin is running as the Democratic candidate for the Civil Court Judge in Queens, New York. Presently, Karen serves as Court Attorney-Referee in Kings County Surrogate’s Court. She has also served as a Judge in the New York City Housing Court, adjudicating disputes between landlord and tenants in the Bronx and Manhattan.

We spoke about her current position as Surrogate Court Referee which involves estate settlement between family members and other matters such as guardianship, which was the central issue of the #FreeBritney movement involving Britney Spears.

Karen talked about what she loves about the legal profession and the challenges of working as a Judge in New York City’s Housing Court, which is one of the busiest courts in the nation.

Karen also volunteers as Co-Chair of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY), she also spearheaded the Queens Pro Bono Clinic and helped to set up and manage AABANY’s Remote Legal Clinic during the pandemic, to assist seniors and low-income families by phone.


Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • Karen’s connection to Taiwan
  • What Karen wanted to be when she grew up and how she got interested in law as a career
  • What Karen does in her current position as Surrogate Court Referee
  • The #FreeBritney movement and guardianship
  • What’s been a challenging moment in Karen’s career
  • What’s have a highlight or high point in Karen’s career
  • What it was like being a judge in housing court
  • The confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson
  • How the civil rights movement led to the Immigration and Naturalization Act (1965)
  • How landlord tenant law in New York is very tenant friendly and could be reformed to protect individual homeowner landlords who are renting out a space in their homes
  • The reform of landlord tenant law is an issue for lawmakers to address
  • How New York City’s Housing Court is one of the busiest courts in the nation
  • How Karen’s experience as a judge in New York City’s Housing Court and Surrogate’s Court has prepared her for being a civil court judge
  • How in the Anglo American system (or common law system) that we have in the United States, a judge’s ruling or interpretation of the law can affect or create laws
  • Karen’s pro bono work as Co-Chair of the Pro Bono and Community Service Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York (AABANY)
  • Karen’s involvement in setting up AABANY’s Remote Legal Clinic during pandemic
  • Her decision to step down as judge of the New York City Housing Court
  • What a civil court judge does and can accomplish during their 10-year term
  • How Karen would like to see greater access to legal advice and support for those who most need it
  • Karen’s mentors and advice on finding them
  • If Karen would like to be a Supreme Court Judge
  • The difference levels of the U.S. court system
  • The importance of voting
  • In Queens, NY Asian Americans are 25% of the population
  • Karen is running in the Democratic primary, on June 28; only people registered as Democrats and who live in Queens can vote for Karen


Related Links:


Karen Lin, Democrat for Civil Court Judge website:


Karen Lin’s Facebook page:


Karen Lin on Instagram:


Check here for New York Voter Registration Deadlines

June 28, 2022 Primary Election Deadlines:


Lin announces bid for Queens Civil Court judge (an article from the Queens Daily Eagle):


People’s Court (reality television show):


#FreeBritney: Understanding the Fan-led Britney Spears Movement (an article from Rolling Stone Magazine):


The #FreeBritney movement finds its moment: ‘All the hard work was worth it’ (an article from The Guardian):


What is neurodiversity? (from Harvard Health):


READ: Ketanji Brown Jackson’s opening statement at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing (an article from CNN):


Civil Rights Movement: Timeline, Key Events & Leaders (from


Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 – History House Gov:


Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965:


Asian American Bar Association of New York:


Asian American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Committee:


Karen Lin recognized at the Brooklyn Law School’s Public Service Awards Ceremony (April 5, 2022):


Karen Lin’s May 28, 2020 blog article for the Historical Society of the NY Courts, “Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month”:


New York City Housing Court:


Village woman fights to evict ‘serial grifter’ (an article from The Village Sun):


How ‘protecting tenants’ hurts innocents (an article from New York Post):


The number one digital article for The Cut:


The Nightmare Share She posted an ad for a roommate. What’s the worst that could happen? (an article from The Cut):

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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