Sitting APA Judges in Elected Positions on the Georgia Bench
The Honorable Alvin T. Wong, State Court of DeKalb County
The Honorable Alvin T. Wong was elected Judge of the State Court of DeKalb County, Georgia’s third largest county, in 1998. He was the first Asian Pacific American (APA) to run for public office in metro Atlanta and is the first APA to be elected judge in the Southeast. Judge Wong was elected in a county where APAs made up less than two percent of registered voters and has served continuously unopposed for more than a decade. A former partner at Gambrell & Stolz (now Baker Donelson), Judge Wong had 21 years of experience as a corporate and trial attorney before running for office. He chaired the State Bar of Georgia’s Investigative Panel for disciplinary action against unethical practices by Georgia attorneys. His most recent project has been to create a DUI Court to treat chronic alcohol addiction. His heart is in the community. Judge Wong serves on the boards of the Fernbank Museum of Natural History and the NAPABA Law Foundation. He has mentored future leaders, as co-director of NAPABA’s Thomas Tang Moot Court Competition and a volunteer with civic organizations dedicated to helping teens avoid drugs, pregnancy, and unemployment. Judge Wong has received many awards for service, leadership, and trail-blazing, including the 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award by Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School; OCA’s “Citizen of the Year 2000”; and a 1997 NAPABA Trailblazer. Al Wong immigrated to the US from Hong Kong at age 14. He lives in Atlanta with wife Jeannie Lin, a creative communications consultant, two cats, and a dachshund.
The Honorable Carla Wong McMillian, Georgia Court of Appeals
A native Georgian, Judge Carla McMillian became the second State Court Judge in Fayette County history after being appointed to the bench by then-Governor Sonny Perdue. She recently won a contested election on July 31, 2012, and is now the second APA elected judge in the Southeast. In this role, she oversees one of the busiest single state courts in Georgia, handling approximately 7,000 cases a year, consisting of civil matters, criminal misdemeanors, traffic violations, and ordinance code citations. As the only State Court Judge in Fayette County, she also manages the administrative operations of Fayette County State Court, which includes setting and managing the budget and supervising court personnel. Judge Carla married fellow attorney Lance McMillian in 1997. The couple lives in Tyrone with their two young children. Prior to coming to Fayette County State Court, Judge Carla served as a partner in the litigation group of the law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP. Her practice centered on complex business litigation and included the unique experience of arguing cases before the Georgia Supreme Court, the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Louisiana Court of Appeals. She also litigated in state and federal trial courts around Georgia and the rest of the country. Judge Carla began her career as a federal law clerk for the Honorable William C. O’Kelley of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
The Honorable Meng H. Lim, Superior Court of Tallapoosa Circuit
On Thursday, January 15, 2015, Meng H. Lim was sworn in as Judge of the Superior Court of Tallapoosa Circuit by Chief Justice Hugh Thompson at the Georgia Supreme Court Courtroom. He is the first Asian Pacific American (APA) Superior Court Judge in Georgia. Meng Lim won election to the Superior Court bench in the July 22, 2014, primary runoff with 61.7% of the vote in rural Haralson and Polk Counties, where less than 0.6% of the population is Asian American. The race was especially significant as it was the first time in over 30 years that voters in the Tallapoosa Circuit were able to elect a Superior Court judge. The road to the American Dream was a rough one. At the age of 9, Lim – a Chinese Cambodian -- walked with his family for a month in order to escape the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge. They crossed into neighboring Thailand to the safety of a Red Cross refugee camp before being sponsored to come to the United States by Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta. Meng Lim and his family settled in Bremen in 1982. To survive, his parents -- a former principal and nurse -- worked as custodians for the local Baptist church and public schools. Speaking almost no English when he arrived, Lim rose to become the 1991 valedictorian of his high school. He was accepted by Emory University under the Georgia Governor’s Scholarship, where he earned a B.A. in History in 1995. Lim then attended Mercer University Law School, on a scholarship, receiving his J.D. in 1998. After graduating from law school, Meng Lim returned to his roots to clerk in the same Superior Court to which he is now elected. He credits the clerkship as one of the most important experiences of his career. Lim then started a solo law practice, gaining 15 years of trial experience, and was appointed the Haralson County Attorney in 2005. Handling over 900 cases as lead attorney before the Superior Court, he gained a reputation for being “a lawyer with backbone.” He is also the proud father of two children, Elizabeth and Nicholas.