Meet Our 2016 Friend of Freedom: Judge Meng Lim

Our annual Red, White and NEW gala event is coming up on August 20th, and we are proud to introduce our 2016 Friend of Freedom award recipient: Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Meng Lim.

Elected in July 2014 and sworn in the following December, Judge Lim is the first Asian American elected to the superior court in Georgia.

He is also the state’s first refugee judge.

Born in Cambodia in 1972, Judge Lim was only three years old when the Communist Khmer Rouge became the ruling party in his country. His father, who had fled China after his own father was killed during the rule of Mao Zedong, and his older brother fled into the jungles, where his brother would die of malaria. Judge Lim, his two siblings, and his mother were sent to work camps where they remained until the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

After the fall, the Lim family reunited and attempted to live peacefully in rural Cambodia, but fled to neighboring Thailand after more violence during the war that followed.

Soon after, the Lims were resettled in College Park by Jewish Family & Career Services. In Cambodia, Judge Lim’s parents were highly educated, but in Georgia, their lack of English led to fewer job prospects. It wasn’t long before they were welcomed by the First Baptist Church of Bremen, where they became custodians.

Bremen became Judge Lim’s true home, where he flourished. He quickly learned English, as teachers took him to Wal-Mart in their own time to teach him words one at a time. Over time, he grew to be a state wrestling champion and school valedictorian, winning a scholarship to Emory where he would study history. His success led to another scholarship, this time to Mercer’s law school, and a stellar career has followed.

After 16 years of practicing, Judge Lim decided to continue serving his community by running for the first open superior judge position in 30 years. He ran a populist campaign – focusing on social media and a door-to-door strategy to ensure his neighbors knew his face and his beliefs – and had a huge turnout.

While Asian Americans make up less than 1% of voters in the two-county seat of the Tallapoosa circuit, 62% of voters came out for Judge Lim in July 2014.

In his first year of service, Judge Lim has continued to focus on connecting to the people of his community and making the court system more accessible to all.

We are proud to honor Judge Lim as our 2016 Friend of Freedom, for the inspiration he brings to all new Americans and the success he has shared not just with his local community, but all Georgians.

For a longer feature piece about Judge Lim, see this Emory Magazine article from 2015. To hear Judge Lim tell his story in person at Red, White and NEW, purchase your ticket now.

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