Judge Ronald Sing Wai Lew (劉成威)
September 19, 1941 – May 19, 2023
Judge Ronald Lew was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. He had a notable legal career and made significant contributions to the judiciary.
Judge Lew, a native of Los Angeles, California, served as a United States District Judge for the Central District of California. His educational journey began with graduation from Loyola High School, followed by obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola Marymount University in 1964. He then served in the United States Army from 1967 to 1969 before pursuing a Juris Doctor degree from Southwestern University School of Law, which he received two years later.
Judge Lew embarked on his legal career as a Deputy City Attorney in the Criminal and Civil Liability Divisions of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office in 1972. Afterward, he spent seven years practicing law privately in Los Angeles starting in 1974. He also served as a Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension Commissioner from 1976 to 1982.
In 1982, Judge Lew was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the position of Judge on the Los Angeles Municipal Court. His exceptional work led to his elevation to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1984 by Governor George Deukmejian. Subsequently, on February 2, 1987, President Ronald Reagan nominated him to the United States District Court.
Judge Lew holds the distinction of being the first Chinese-American appointed to the Federal bench in the United States. His appointment not only recognized his legal expertise but also marked an important milestone for the Chinese-American community.
Ronald Lew and CSC
Judge Lew helped build a very firm foundation of Chinatown Service Center (CSC) as a volunteer and helped counsel some of the youth on criminal matters in 1974. He became a board member and incorporated CSC into a 501(c)(3), drafted the by-laws, became the first President of the Board of Directors, and remained on a three-year term. He created a policy for the board to limit anyone to serve as the President not more than 3 years, aimed to ensure the dynamics of the growth of the center. He said in an interview, “I wanted CSC to be the most reputable non-profit service agency providing services to the public in our community, or wherever in a way that is honorable and honest and with full service to the satisfaction of the needy.”
He continued paving the way for CSC and became a grantee of city fundings, turned into an agency with United Way, developed programs, and worked very closely with the umbrella association - Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), who assisted with CSC getting its first city workforce grant. With only two staff at the time, CSC had no budget for more employees. He started implementing fundraisers at local restaurants, hundreds of people realized what CSC did and just came to support and filled the entire restaurant. Lew once said, “On every festival occasion I looked out at the crowd and I was seeing the people were happy and the people were thankful for what CSC provided them. This is a good human interest story more than anything else, it was just wonderful.”
Judge Lew has always been behind the scenes pushing CSC to the front, such as working with the government closely. “I was iron-fisted on keeping CSC clean and honorable and doing the good work so that we can sustain the support from the government.” He insisted.
Judge Lew’s father was his solid rock and also had a big heart serving the community for many years, who influenced him to become a lawyer so he could help integrate and assimilate the Chinese Community with mainstream America. CSC was in the frontline helping immigrants wholeheartedly and successfully, it became an inspiration to many others, a lot of new non-profit organizations followed in the footsteps and were established as well. Judge Lew tirelessly devoted a tremendous amount of his time and effort to get CSC off the ground and elevated it to another level.
Thank you for your loving heart, hard work and dedication to CSC and the community, you made a difference and you will be dearly missed!
Chinatown Service Center