My wife Mary and I were quite honored when Bill Colucci (‘82) invited us to have dinner with him and California Supreme Court Justice Ming Chin (’60) and his wife, Carol. Justice Chin was speaking at Bellarmine for a DOGS event and was arriving early to tour the campus and have an informal dinner with Bill and Kristina Luscher. Bill knew of my connection to Justice Chin through my father-in-law, Justice Raymond Sullivan, who like Justice Chin, was a USF graduate, USF Law School graduate and also served on the California Supreme Court, albeit many years earlier.
Justice Chin and his wife were delightful and very down-to-earth. He told us how he came to Bellarmine as a boarder from Oregon. Justice Chin was the youngest of eight children born to Chinese immigrant parents with little education, but with a determination to make it in America. His parents came to California to farm potatoes and when they were unsuccessful, they did not give up. In an era of discrimination against the Chinese, the Chin family moved to Oregon, bought a farm and began producing potatoes involving all their children in the process. Education, however, was deeply valued and when a friend spoke highly of the opportunities at Bellarmine, Justice Chin and his brother were enrolled as boarders.
Justice Chin remembers the values he learned at Bellarmine. Most importantly, the value of service to others and to the community and he has tried to follow that throughout his legal career. After law school, Justice Chin began his military service in the Vietnam War and was decorated with the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal. He began his legal career when he returned from Vietnam and accepted a position as a Deputy District Attorney for Alameda County. After a couple of years, he was offered a position with a prominent Oakland law firm where he later was named a partner. It was in 1988 that Justice Chin began his career as a jurist, first, on the Superior Court and then two years later he was named to the First District Court of Appeal. Today, Justice Chin has served 20 years on California’s Supreme Court. He feels strongly about his call to service and making the world a better place – the values he learned at Bellarmine. He also stressed that we must continue to learn and improve ourselves. As examples, Justice Chin has become an expert in the use of DNA in court cases and he stays current with the ever-changing world of technology.
Justice Chin gave the Bellarmine audience a picture into his journey. It may not have been easy, but his hard work, determination, love of learning and service to others makes him a true example of “men for and with others ” and an exemplary Bellarmine graduate.