Supreme Court of California Justia
Justice Ming W. Chin

On March 1, 1996, Justice Ming W. Chin became an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California. Governor Pete Wilson appointed him to that position on January 25, 1996. On March 1, he was confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments and sworn in by the Governor. Justice Chin previously served as the Presiding Justice of the First District Court of Appeal, Division Three, in San Francisco beginning January 2, 1995. He was appointed to that position by Governor Pete Wilson on August 17, 1994, and in November 1994 was elected to a 12-year term. Previously he was an associate justice of that court, having been appointed to that position by former Governor George Deukmejian. Prior to that appointment, he served as a judge of the Alameda County Superior Court. Before his appointment to the bench, Justice Chin was a partner in an Oakland law firm, where he specialized in business and commercial litigation.

Justice Chin obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science as well as a Doctorate of Jurisprudence from the University of San Francisco and was admitted to the California State Bar in 1970; he also has been admitted to practice before the federal courts, as well as the United States Tax Court. After he graduated 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, where he tried numerous felony and misdemeanor jury trials and progressed to the position of felony trial deputy.

In 1973, Justice Chin was recruited by the Oakland law firm of Aiken, Kramer & Cummings, Incorporated, to head its trial department. He became a principal of the firm in 1976. His successful trials include two judgments in excess of one million dollars. The first was a $1.3 million judgment in an unfair competition/ wrongful termination case in the Alameda County Superior Court, and the second was a $1.2 million award in an arbitration of a construction dispute in Los Angeles.

Justice Chin has served on many committees of the 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. He was a member of the Judicial Council Appellate Advisory Committee and the Advisory Committee on Racial and Ethnic Bias. He served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of San Francisco, where he was a member of the Executive Committee and chaired the Academic Affairs Committee. He was also a member of the USF Law School Board of Counselors and an Adjunct Professor of Law. The USF Alumni Association presented him a distinguished service award in 1985 for his work as a past president of that organization. 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. Justice Chin was selected as the Outstanding Judge of the Year in 1989 by the Southern Alameda County Bar Association. The San Francisco Bay Chapter of the American Jewish Committee named him recipient of the 1997 Learned Hand Award. In 1998 he served as President of the Commonwealth Club of California.

Justice Chin has authored landmark decisions in areas such as DNA, toxic tort insurance coverage, surrogate parents, and hate crimes. He has frequently lectured on DNA, genetics, and the courts, to groups including the American Bar Association's Judicial Division, the State of California's Center for Judicial Education and Research (CJER), the National College of Probate Judges, the Wisconsin Supreme Court Judicial Education Committee, and the Chulabhorn International Science Congress, Bangkok, Thailand. He is a frequent lecturer in judicial education and gave the Traynor Lecture at the Witkin Judicial College in June 2008. He also spoke on behalf of the California Supreme Court in December 1996 at its memorial session honoring the late Bernard E. Witkin. He is an author of California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation (The Rutter Group 2007).


Bellarmine College Preparatory, 1960
San Jose, California

University of San Francisco, 1967
B.A., Political Science

University of San Francisco, School of Law, 1967
Juris Doctorate, Law

Current Employment Supreme Court of California
  • Associate Justice appointed by Governor Pete Wilson, January 25, 1996
  • Confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, March 1, 1996
  • Oath of Office, March 1, 1996
  • Elected, 12-year term, November 1998
Past Employment Court of Appeal, First District, Division Three, Presiding Justice
  • Appointed by Governor Pete Wilson, August 17, 1994
  • Confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, August 29, 1994
  • Oath of Office, December 2, 1994
  • Elected, 12-year term, November 1994
Court of Appeal, First District, Division Three, Associate Justice
  • Appointed by Governor George Deukmejian, August 7, 1990
  • Confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, August 20, 1990
  • Oath of Office, August 20, 1990
  • Elected, 12-year term, November 1990
Alameda County Superior Court, Judge
  • Appointed by Governor George Deukmejian, January 6,1988
  • Oath of Office, January 8, 1988
  • Elected, 6-year term, November 1990
United States Army, Captain (1967 - 1969)

Fort Lewis, Washington
Chief of the Transfer Station
U.S. Army Personnel Center

Fort Carson, Colorado
Chief Personnel Officer
1st Brigade of the 5th Division

Long Binh, Vietnam
Procurement Officer
U.S. Army Headquarters, Vietnam

United States Army Reserves, Captain (1969 - 1971)

91st Division, Headquarters
Fort Baker
Sausalito, California

Alameda County, California
  • Deputy District Attorney, 1970 - 1972
Aiken, Kramer & Cummings, Inc.
  • Associate, 1973 - 1976
  • Partner, 1976 - 1988
  • (Specialized in business litigation and employment law counseling and litigation)
Professional Organizations

California Judges Association

Member, 1988 - present

Member, Public Information and Education Committee

Graduate, California Judges College, 1988

Judicial Council of California

Chair, Court Technology Advisory Committee, 2002 - Present

Chair, California Commission for Impartial Courts, 2007 - Present

Chair, Science and the Law Steering Committee, 2005 - 2007

Member, Advisory Committee on Racial and Ethnic Bias, 1990 - 1997

Member, Appellate Advisory Committee, 1993 - 1996

State Bar of California

Delegate, Conference of Delegates, 1983 - 1986

Referee, State Bar Court, 1978, 1979

Member, Executive Committee of the State Bar Court, 1993 - 1994

Alameda County Bar Association

Member, Board of Directors, 1983 - 1988

Vice-President, 1986

President, 1987

San Francisco District Attorney's Commission on Hate Crimes

Member, 1990 - 1992

Community Service

University of San Francisco

Member, Alpha Sigma Nu, National Jesuit Honor Society

Editor, USF Yearbook, 1964 (The Don)

Member, USF Alumni Board of Governors, 1978 - 1984

President, USF Alumni Association, 1983 - 1984

Member, Board of Counselors, USF School of Law, 1980 to present

Commencement Speaker, College of Professional Studies, May 1985

Member, USF Board of Trustees, 1985 - 1997

Member, Personnel Committee, 1985 - 1988

Member, Executive Committee, 1986 - 1988, 1993 - 1998

Member, Academic Affairs Committee, 1988 - 1998; Chairman of the Committee, 1993 - 1998

Adjunct Professor of Law, 1989 - 1993

Commonwealth Club of California

Member since 1978

Member, Program Committee, 1992 - present

Chairman of the Committee, 1995

Member, Board of Governors, 1993 - present

Chairman of the Executive Committee, 1996

President-elect, 1997

President, 1998

First District Agricultural Association

Member, Board of Directors, 1985 - 1988

Awards and Honors

McQuade Award for Journalism, USF, 1964

U.S. Army Commendation Medal, Quang Tri, Vietnam, 1969

The Bronze Star (U.S. Army), Long Binh, Vietnam, 1969

Distinguished Service Award, USF Alumni Association, April 1985

Alumnus of the Year, USF, 1988

Appointed by California Governor George Deukmejian as a Member of the Board of Directors, First District Agricultural Association, 1985-1988

Outstanding Judge of the Year, 1989, Southern Alameda County Bar Association

Alumnus of the Year, USF School of Law, 1993

St. Thomas More Award, USF School of Law, 1996

Honorary Doctor of Laws, Southwestern University School of Law, 1996

Honorary Doctor of Laws, Golden Gate University School of Law, 1997

Learned Hand Award, American Jewish Committee, SF Bay Chapter, 1997

Honoree for Service in the Field of Law, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association & Chinese Women's Association of America, 1997

Legal Impact Award, Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California, 1997

Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of San Diego School of Law, 1998

Honorary Doctor of Laws, Western State University School of Law, 1998

Citizen of the Year Award, Chinese Americans United for Self Empowerment, 1998

Public Service & Government Leadership Award, Asian Business Association, 1998

Trailblazer Award, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, 1999

Grand Marshall, San Gabriel Valley Lunar New Year Parade, 2000

Honorary Doctor of Laws, California Western School of Law, 2001

Honorary Doctor of Laws, Pepperdine University School of Law, 2002

United States Attorney's Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Award, 2004

Distinguished Faculty Service, Judicial Council of California Education Division, 2005

Promoting Diversity Through Judicial Excellence, California Minority Counsel Program, 2006

Commitment to Community Award, Asian Pacific Bar Association of Silicon Valley, 2006

Legal Impact Award, Asian Law Alliance, 2007


Keynote Address: "Fairness or Bias?: A Symposium on Racial and Ethnic Composition and Attitudes in the Judiciary" (May 1997) 4 Asian Law Journal (Boalt Hall School of Law, U.C. Berkeley) 181

California Practice Guide: Employment Litigation (The Rutter Group, 2007)

Healthcare and Other Social Aspects of Genetics: a Judicial Perspective (2007) Vol. 8, No. 5, Int. J. Healthcare Technology and Management, 549.


Position: Justice

Status: Active

Recent Opinions

People v. Medina
Citation: 11 Cal. 4th 694, 906 P.2d 2, 47 Cal. Rptr. 2d 165
Decided: Thursday, November 30, 1995

Wiley v. County of San Diego
Citation: 19 Cal. 4th 532, 966 P.2d 983, 79 Cal. Rptr. 2d 672
Decided: Monday, November 23, 1998

Asmus v. Pacific Bell
Citation: 23 Cal.4th 1
Decided: Thursday, June 1, 2000

Konig v. Fair Employment & Housing Com.
Citation: 28 Cal. 4th 743, 50 P.3d 718, 123 Cal. Rptr. 2d 1
Decided: Monday, July 29, 2002

21st Century Insurance v. Super. Ct.
Citation: 47 Cal. 4th 511, 213 P.3d 972, 98 Cal. Rptr. 3d 516
Decided: Monday, August 24, 2009

Recent Concurring Opinions

People v. Centeno
Citation: 60 Cal.4th 659; 338 P.3d 938; 14 Cal. Daily Op Serv. 13,545; 2014 Daily Journal D.A.R. 16,015; No. S209957; 180 Cal.Rptr.3d 649;
Decided: Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ayala v. Antelope Valley Newspapers
Citation: 59 Cal. 4th 552, 173 Cal. Rptr, 3d 332, 327 P.3d 165
Decided: Monday, June 30, 2014

Iskanian v. CLS Transportation
Citation: 59 Cal.4th 348 (2014); 327 P.3d 129 (Cal. 2014); 173 Cal. Rptr. 3d 289 (2014)
Decided: Thursday, June 26, 2014

People v. Scott
Citation: 324 P.3d 827 (Cal. 2014); 58 Cal.4th 1415; 171 Cal.Rptr.3d 638; 2014 Daily Journal D.A.R. 6226
Decided: Monday, May 19, 2014

Marr. of Valli
Citation: 48 Cal.4th 1396, 171 Cal. Rptr. 3d 454, 324 P.3d 274
Decided: Friday, May 16, 2014

Recent Dissenting Opinions

Long Beach Police Officers Assn. v. City of Long Beach
Citation: 59 Cal.4th 59, 172 Cal. Rptr. 3d 56, 325 P.3d 460
Decided: Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ralphs Grocery v. UFCW Local 8
Citation: 55 Cal.4th 1083., 150 Cal.Rptr.3d 501, 290 P.3d 1116, 194 LRRM 2965, 2012 BL 340928
Decided: Thursday, December 27, 2012

People v. Mesa
Citation: 54 Cal. 4th 191
Decided: Monday, June 4, 2012

Sonic-Calabasas A, Inc. v. Moreno
Citation: 51 Cal. 4th 659, 247 P.3d 130, 121 Cal. Rptr. 3d 58
Decided: Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kwikset Corp. v. Super. Ct.
Citation: 51 Cal. 4th 310, 246 P.3d 877, 120 Cal. Rptr. 3d 741
Decided: Thursday, January 27, 2011