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Borough judge earns state bench

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"Randy's wrapped up a lot of firsts in his lifetime," said Eng's longtime friend Thomas Principe, a partner in the Manhattan firm of Kramer, Dillof, Livingston & Moore.Justice Eng graduated from St. John's University Law School in 1972 and served as an assistant district attorney in the Queens district attorney's office from 1973 to 1980 before moving on to the New York City Department of Corrections' inspector general's office in Manhattan.Principe met the judge in law school and got to know him well while they were both in the homicide bureau at the DA's office."We were seven assistants and worked very closely together, on similar cases," Principe said. "Besides being very smart and careful in how he goes about his work, he was very complimentary and went out of his way to help."Principe served with Eng in the Army National Guard JAG Corps.Mayor Ed Koch appointed Eng to the New York City Criminal Court in 1983, making him the first Asian-American judge in the state, Principe said."When he was appointed in 1983 the crowd - all the Asian-Americans - was so large it didn't fit in the courtroom," Principe said. "The Asian-American community is very proud of him."The experience paved the way for his 1989 election to the New York State Supreme Court, where he was again the first Asian-American. Eng was re-elected to the state Supreme Court in 2003 and appointed administrative judge of the criminal term of the state Supreme Court in 2007.Gov. Eliot Spitzer appointed Eng as appellate division judge, along with three others, on Jan. 8. Eng took office last week, serving the second department, comprising Kings, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess and Rockland counties. Eng is the second Asian-American to join the second-highest branch of the state court system, after the Hon. Peter Tom of the first department, whose jurisdiction comprises the Bronx and Manhattan.Eng was born in Canton, China, in 1947, and arrived in Queens with his parents, Rose and Doo Eng, in 1948 when he was six months old. The family moved into a house at 90-43 148th St. in Jamaica and opened a laundromat, the Central Queens Historical Association said. The elder Engs lived there from 1948 to 1984, and what is notable about the address is what else is nearby as the justice grew up: The store was down the block from the Queens Bar Association building, built in 1968, and two blocks from the Queens General Court House. During World War II, Eng's father was a tail gunner during bomber runs in Europe, and - another court connection - Eng's mother served for many years as a court interpreter, Principe said.In 1984, Eng's parents moved to Smedley Street in Briarwood.Both Eng and Principe are on the board of directors of the St. John's Law School Alumni Association. Principe said Eng is active in mentoring current minority law school students.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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