LOS ANGELES, CA. Frank W. Chen has been elected by the judges of the Los Angeles Superior Court to become the Los Angeles Superior Court's newest Court Commissioner.
Chen, a graduate of Stanford University and UCLA School of Law, was admitted to the California State Bar in 1988. He is a former president of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association (SCCLA) and the Taiwanese American Lawyers Association (TALA), and served as a trustee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA) and as a board member of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County (APABA). He is a Past President of the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce and a Past President of the San Marino City Club.
Chen is best known for his pro bono work in combating abusive litigation. Most notably, in recognition for his public service involvement, he was named a recipient of California Lawyer Magazine's Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award for 2003. He was also the recipient of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California's Pro Bono Service Award in 2003. Both of these awards were given for his volunteer work with state and local prosecutors, local elected officials, legislators, and the State Bar of California in coordinating a unique and sweeping defense to abusive litigation brought by the Trevor Law Group of Beverly Hills.
Additionally, since 2009, he has written and given a multitude of presentations on the topic of combating abusive ADA accessibility litigation in California to numerous bar associations, chambers of commerce, and professional organizations. In the late 1990s, Chen was also instrumental in leading both the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office and the State Bar of California in the battle against the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL).
In 2006, Chen received the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association's Judge Delbert E. Wong Distinguished Service Award. Also in 2006, he received recognition from California Assemblymember Judy Chu at the 49th Assembly District's Third Annual Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month Celebration for making significant contributions as a Community Leader.
A litigation attorney as a partner at small law firms for most of his career, Chen has for the past several years been a sole practitioner primarily representing small business owners in business and real estate litigation. Since 2005, he was recognized eleven times as a Southern California Super Lawyer (including three times in the National Super Lawyers Business Edition), and from 2010 to 2018 was named as one of Pasadena Magazine's Top Attorneys. He first became interested in judicial service while serving as a volunteer Temporary Judge (Judge Pro Tem) for the Los Angeles Superior Court beginning in 2005, presiding over small claims, limited civil and unlawful detainer matters.
A naturalized U.S. citizen, Chen was born in Taipei, Taiwan and came to the United States at the age of 4. He will become the Los Angeles Superior Court's third Taiwan-born judicial officer, and the fifth Taiwan-born judicial officer in the entire United States. (Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo of the Eastern District of New York became the first Taiwan-born judge in the United States in 2016; Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Wesley Hsu became the second Taiwan-born judge in the United States in 2017; Federal Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge James C. Ho became the third Taiwan-born judge in the United States in 2017; and Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Wendy Chang became the fourth Taiwan-born judge in the United States in 2018.)
The Los Angeles Superior Court is the largest unified trial court in the United States, consisting of approximately 492 judges and nearly 80 subordinate judicial officers which include commissioners.
Unlike the gubernatorial appointment or the countywide election of judges, commissioners are selected by the Los Angeles Superior Court judges following a rigorous process of evaluation. Commissioners are elected from a list of candidates nominated by a judicial panel to perform judicial and quasi-judicial functions, with primary responsibility for adjudicating cases, including acting as a temporary judge in appropriate cases, and performing other related duties as assigned. Commissioners have the same jurisdiction and exercise the same powers and duties as the judges of the court with respect to infractions and small claims actions, and in other matters pursuant to stipulation of the parties. Commissioners are typically assigned to preside over proceedings in civil, small claims, criminal, traffic, probate, mental health, family, juvenile delinquency and/or juvenile dependency and landlord-tenant matters.
Chen stated that he is absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to work for the court where he has practiced for the past thirty years. He will be assigned to the Los Angeles Superior Court Family Law Division at the Central Civil West Courthouse.