Meet Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee

Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee was the first Asian American woman Presiding Judge in San Francisco history. A single mother who raised two sons in San Francisco, she is committed to providing equal access and ensuring equal justice for all.

Judge Lee, a Democrat, is the granddaughter of immigrants who ran a Chinese laundry on the East Coast. She was raised in New York City’s Chinatown. Her father worked in a hardware store and restaurant and her mom worked as a clerk. She attended New York City public schools and earned a scholarship to Mount Holyoke before heading west for law school.

Before her appointment to the Superior Court, Judge Lee earned her law degree at Golden Gate University School of Law. She worked for several years in private practice before joining the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office where she served as an assistant district attorney from  1977 to 1998.  Since her appointment to the court in 1998, Judge Lee has presided over hundreds of criminal and civil trials and was awarded Trial Judge of the Year in 2014 by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association.  Judge Lee is currently the head of the Asbestos Case Management and California Environmental Quality Act Department.

Judge Lee founded the San Francisco Veterans Justice Court to assist veterans in our criminal justice system. The court has provided customized treatment plans to help incarcerated veterans re-enter society instead of re-entering the criminal court system. As of January 2018, the court has 124 graduates and has been widely viewed as a success.

Judge Lee instituted mandatory domestic violence training for all judges and received a commendation from the Commission on the Status of Women. She co-founded the Truancy Action Partnership to work collaboratively with parents, school staff, and child welfare agencies to help parents overcome obstacles to school attendance and made changes to increase court support for dependent children and the elderly.

Judge Lee raised her children in a three-generation household, and was an active volunteer in their school and sports meets (soccer, running, and rowing). She is an avid runner and yoga practitioner.

Judge Cynthia Ming-mei Lee Endorsements

Officials

  • Governor Jerry Brown
  • Senator Kamala Harris
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein 
  • House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
  • Congresswoman Jackie Speier
  • State Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma
  • Senator Scott Wiener
  • Former Senator Mark Leno
  • Assemblymember David Chiu
  • Assemblymember Phil Ting
  • Mayor Mark Farrell
  • City Attorney Dennis Herrera
  • Assessor Carmen Chu
  • Sheriff Vicki Hennessy
  • Former Sheriff Michael Hennessey
  • District Attorney George Gascon
  • Former City Attorney Louise Renne
  • Former San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Brown
  • Board President London Breed
  • Supervisor Aaron Peskin
  • Supervisor Katy Tang
  • Supervisor Norman Yee
  • Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer
  • Supervisor Jane Kim
  • Supervisor Catherine Stefani
  • Former Supervisor Angela Alioto
  • Former Supervisor, Reverend Dr. Amos Brown
  • Board of Education Commissioner Rachel Norton
  • City College Vice President Alex Randolph
  • Alameda Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay
  • Former CA Democratic Party Chair John Burton
  • Former Chief of Police Greg Suhr
  • Former Justice Harry Low
  • Former Ambassador to Australia Jeff Bleich
  • Former Public Defender Geoff Brown
  • Former Superior Court Judge Jim Collins
  • Former Superior Court Judge Nancy Davis
  • Former Superior Court Judge Donna Hitchens
  • Former Superior Court Judge Philip Moscone
  • Former Superior Court Judge Charlotte Woolard
  • Former U.S. Attorney Joe Russoniello
  • Former U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan

Groups and Organizations

  • San Francisco Democratic Party
  • San Francisco Republican Party
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • San Francisco Examiner
  • Bay Area Reporter
  • Sing Tao Daily
  • All 50 San Francisco Superior Court judges
  • All First District Court of Appeal justices
  • San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association
  • California Latino Judges
  • San Francisco Firefighters Local 798
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers No. 6
  • Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21
  • California Asian American Judges
  • Potrero Hill Democratic Club
  • Community Alliance for Jobs and Housing
  • Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club
  • San Francisco Police Officers Association 
  • The Association of African American California Judicial Officers
  • Judiciary Committee of the California Association of Black Lawyers
  • San Francisco Women's Political Committee 
  • City Democratic Club
  • San Francisco Democratic Women in Action
  • United Democratic Club
  • San Francisco Young Democrats 
  • Edwin M. Lee Asian Pacific Democratic Club
  • Asian American Bar Association 
  • Queen's Bench Bar Association 
  • Community Tenants Association
  • District 5 Democratic Club
  • Chinese American Citizens Alliance

Community Leaders

  • Bob Feldman
  • Len Tillem
  • Ingrid Evans
  • Owen Clements
  • Mark Mackler
  • Harold Kahn
  • Gale Mondry
  • Brian Bringardner
  • John Kaman
  • John Munter
  • Susan Horst
  • Anthony Kline
  • Charlotte Woolard
  • Donna Hitchens
  • Wade Rhyne
  • Jeffrey Bornstein
  • Rick Seabolt
  • Jan Platt
  • William Roger Gargano
  • Malcolm Smith
  • Alexandra Ross
  • Benjamin Reyes
  • Asha Jameson
  • William Campbell
  • M David Minnick
  • JoAnn Prior
  • Michael Markman
  • Ana Gonzalez
  • Vanessa Wu
  • Michael Candela
  • Edward Kallgren
  • Michael Lee
  • Joan Haratani
  • David Kremer
  • Donna Lee Chignell
  • David Ammons
  • Charles Harrington
  • Philip Moscone
  • Trenton Norris
  • Claire Holl
  • Jonah Ross
  • Erin Murphy
  • Kathleen Dowling McDonough
  • Nancy L. Davis
  • Kathleen Purcell
  • Matthew Kahn
  • David Burk
  • Barry Abbott
  • Eduardo Ramirez
  • Alexander Lee
  • Gilles Portaz
  • Sandra Pons
  • Bruce Fisher
  • Paul Sloan
  • Amy Madsen
  • Joel Friley
  • Anita Jean Denz
  • Gilbert Eisenberg
  • Wesley Hsu
  • Judith Craddick
  • Luis Pons
  • Nancy Tung
  • Janet Gamble
  • David Troup
  • Cynny Sheehan
  • Carolyn Shuman
  • Tom Hart
  • MaryEllen Jirak
  • Michael Wong
  • Russell Fudge
  • Ioana Petrou
  • Kay Harnish-Ladd
  • Yau Lee
  • Robert Cartwright, Jr.
  • Cheryl Mills
  • Carson Niello
  • Drew Williams
  • Greg Free
  • Stuart Hanlon
  • Andrew Schwartz
  • David Bigeleisen
  • Danny Chou
  • Patricia Carlin
  • Molly Priedeman
  • Beth Jay
  • Stephen Pons
  • Ashley Pons
  • Marianne Badawi
  • Judith Bishop
  • Michael Kremer
  • Lawrence Kern
  • Frank Leidman
  • Laurie Weisberg
  • Eric Goldman
  • Scott Cmiel
  • Peggy Cmiel
  • Howard Epstein
  • Arthur Shartsis
  • Joel Zeldin
  • Michael Tsang