Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Japanese American attorney, Kerry Hada, appointed Denver Judge
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Japanese American attorney, Kerry Hada, appointed Denver Judge

Kerrry Hada at the microphone during the dedication of Highway 285 as “Ralph Carr Highway.” Carr was the governor of Colorado during World War II who fought the unconstitutional internment of Japanese Americans from the West Coast, and lost his political career for his stand. Hada helped lead the effort to name the highway after Carr.

Congratulations are in order for Kerry Hada, a Colorado-born Japanese American attorney who has just been named by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper as a Denver County Court Judge.

Erin and I have known Kerry for years, and he’s deeply involved in both the Japanese American and wider Asian American Pacific Islander communities. He’s a member of the Governor’s Asian Pacific American Advisory Council (GAPAAC) and has been a member of many community organizations. He was named this past year to the Board of Directors of the Japanese American National Museum in LA, and he is dedicated to Denver and to the AAPI population.

I’m very glad to see that The Mayor has chosen him from a short list of qualified candidates. (BTW, he’ll be replacing a retiring judge, another JA, Mel Okamoto, who’s also a great guy… but I doubt the ethnicity had anything to do with Hickenlooper’s choice).

Asian Americans are in all-too-short supply in government, especially when you move inward from the East and West Coasts.

Partly, there’s a built-in cultural value that holds us back from participating in politics. Just running for office goes against the grain of many Asian communities, especially recently-immigrated ones. That’s one reason that relatively few Asian Americans go into the news media — we’re taught growing up that it’s wrong to bring attention to oneself.

I can hear my mom touting the famous old Japanese saying: “The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.” She tried to hammer me down so others wouldn’t — telling me not to buy clothes that were too flashy (no baggy sleeves, please!) or colorful (do you have to wear that bright red?), and for a long time, being somewhat sheepish about the fact that I was in the media.

In fact, she asked me once never to write about her until she’s dead, so that her friends wouldn’t read about her…. Uh, oops. Well, I can rest somewhat assured that my mom and most, if not all, her friends, don’t surf the web and read blogs.

Anyway, back to Kerry Hada. It’s a good thing we have citizens like Hada, who are out there, involved and representing the community and fighting for justice. Now, he’ll be fighting for justice for ALL Denverites, and I’m sure he’ll be fair, just and completely rock-solid.

Here’s the press release from the Mayor’s office announcing the appointment:


(DENVER) Mayor John Hickenlooper announced his appointment of Kerry Steven Hada as Denver County Court Judge. The appointment fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Melvin Okamoto, who leaves the bench November 30.

“Denver is fortunate to have so many qualified and experienced judicial candidates from which to choose,” Hickenlooper said. “Kerry Hada brings a unique combination of skills and experience to the Denver County Court bench,” Hickenlooper said. “He will be a great asset to the Court and to the Denver community.”

Hickenlooper received a final list of judicial nominees for the vacancy last week from the Judicial Nomination Commission.

Hada, a private practice attorney with the Law Offices of Kerry S. Hada, P.C., has more than 20 years of experience in law. Following brief stints with the Johns Manville Corp. and Merck Corp. in 1988 and 1989, he launched his own firm in 1989, where he has specialized in criminal, family law and civil trial work. He is a strong proponent of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR).

Hada served as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer with the U.S. Army from 1971-1974. He is a founding member and past president of both the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Colorado and the Minoru Yasui American Inn of Court. He is a faculty instructor for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and a member and past president of the Arapahoe County Bar Association. Hada is currently the Denver Bar Association Board of Governor’s representative to the Colorado Bar Association.

Hada also serves as a mentor and companion to youth through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado.

Hada received his undergraduate degree in business marketing from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was a nationally ranked skier. He earned a master’s degree in business management from Colorado State University and his law degree from the University of Denver College of Law. He is also a graduate of Wheat Ridge High School.