LOS ANGELES – A Filipino-American judge was sworn into the LA County Superior Court on Thursday, Aug. 27 at a ceremony held at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown.
Julian C. Recana of Long Beach became the newest Fil-Am judge, following his appointment by Governor Jerry Brown in July. Recana, who has served as a deputy district attorney for LA County, was among 19 superior court judges recently appointed around the state.
The Honorable Sean D. Coen, an LA County Superior Court judge, served as the event’s master of ceremonies on Thursday. Over 200 people, including a number of judges, lawyers, and district attorneys, attended the ceremony, which took place inside the larger Presiding Judge’s Courtroom. The reception was held at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, featuring a performance from young a capella group The Filharmonic.
Julian’s father, Honorable Judge Mel Red Recana, was appointed by Gov. Brown 34 years ago as the first Filipino-American judge in the United States.
“I’m trying to find any other father-son judge duos in the US, and I still haven’t found any,” said Judge Mel.
Mel also led his newly appointed son in taking the Oath of Office, while Julian’s wife Alexis and two daughters, Julia and Ava, led the enrobing.
“Also, I’ve decided to stay another 34 years—when my beloved granddaughters are next in line,” Mel joked. “This is truly a historic event for our family.”
Taking after his father as an experienced and seasoned defense lawyer, Julian joined the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in 1999, seeking justice for victims of crime and murder. As a DA, he served in the Long Beach Courthouse for 11 years. During that time, he also became involved with various bar associations, including the Philippine American Bar Association (PABA), as a founding officer and assistant secretary.
Many of his colleagues and fellow attorneys were also present at the event to give remarks, including Asst. Head Deputy at the LA County District Attorney’s Office, Brian Schirn; the Honorable Judge Tomson Ong of the LA County Superior Court; and Atty. Hildegarde B. Aguinaldo.
Seven other Filipino judges were also present at the event, continuing the legacy of Filipino judges, including California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.
Today, there are over 2,000 judges in the state of California — 11 of them Filipino-American, nine of whom serve in Los Angeles County, and only one father-and-son duo, the Recanas.
“I want to thank Gov. Brown for appointing me and my father,” said Julian during his closing remarks. “[Mel] becoming a judge was a life-changing experience for me; he later became my coach. He always motivated me to work hard, and inspired me of what could be.”
Among his other accomplishments, Julian was honored last year with the California Journal for Filipino Americans Community Leadership Award, as well as the Association of Deputy District Attorney’s Prosecutor of the Month award for his successful work in a robbery-murder jury trial. Most recently, he received the prestigious National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Association (NAPIPIA)’s “2015 Prosecutor of the Year.”
But Julian owes all of his success to family and especially to his late mother, Emerita Recana.
“Her spirit is here in this courtroom,” he said.
“You have made all of us proud, and especially Mom,” said his wife Alexis.
Philippine Consulate General Leo Herrera-Lim also applauded Julian’s appointment to the bench.
“We could not be any prouder for a guy like Julian, who really represents our community well…and more importantly, we get one more notch in having a Filipino judge in the California judicial system,” Herrera-Lim told the Asian Journal. “We need more good people like Julian to serve as role models, and a representative for our community. I hope that while we celebrate today, that tomorrow we continue looking for our next judge.”
“For aspiring Filipinos, we should learn from the experience of Julian being appointed, and draw strength from our community, to make their own push as the Recana judges have,” he continued.
A key aspect of the father-and-son appointments as Filipino judges is diversity on the bench.
“We are all striving for diversity, for the judiciary to protect all the people and represent their diversity. We need these different bar associations to find qualified candidates out there and become involved,” said Julian. “It is my hope that me standing here today will inspire people who ever thought of filling out that application, to just do it. I hope one day I can be sitting in the audience watching someone take the great oath of becoming a judge too.”
Looking on at his father, his loving wife and two daughters, and his audience of enthused supporters, Julian smiled.
“I am the luckiest man in the world.”