My story is uniquely American. My father, My Trong Nguyen, was born in Nam Dinh, Viet Nam and came to America as a refugee in 1975, after serving as a helicopter pilot in the Republic of South Viet Nam Air Force aiding the United States. Upon arriving in America, My first lived in a resettlement camp at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas before finding sponsorship with a family in Indiana. There he met my mother, Patti, an Indiana native. I graduated from Lexington Catholic High School before attending the University of Kentucky for college and law school.
I am grateful for the opportunities this country has provided to my family and believe a life so blessed should be lived in service to others.
I have tirelessly advocated for countless clients for nearly a decade in all areas of family law including adoption, abuse and neglect, domestic violence, child support, custody, interstate jurisdiction, paternity, property and business division, and custody relocation. I have represented men and women, mothers and fathers, in every division of Family Court. I have the experience to be Fayette County Family Court Judge.
My extensive knowledge of family law and sensitivity to families in distress will allow me to serve compassionately as Fayette Family Court Judge. I understand the difficult times families are confronting when they are in family court, particularly when children are involved, and will work tirelessly to ensure that children's best interests are protected. I believe that every voice in every family should be heard and will ensure that everyone has access to the law regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, orientation or background.
I am married to Owensboro native and Transylvania graduate, Misty Nall Nguyen, who serves as a Fayette County Guardian ad Litem attorney. We are the proud parents of two children, ages two and four months old.
If elected, our campaign believes that I will be the first Asian American elected to the bench in the Commonwealth of Kentucky as well as the first Vietnamese American elected to the bench in Kentucky.
1. In your career, have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and wished you had handled a case or legal issue differently? Describe the situation and any lessons you learned from the experience.
Yes. Multiple times. Although I consider myself adept at compartmentalizing and usually not taking my family law cases home with me, I've often woken up in the middle of the night thinking about cases. In family law, it's almost impossible not to be impacted with what your clients are going through, especially when it involves children.
Although it's easier said than done, the lesson that I've learned is that you can't replay situations over and over in your mind. Otherwise, this job will eat you alive. It's also made me more conscientious of advising clients up front about the multiple ways their case may play out and even to expect the unexpected. It's reaffirmed my belief as a practitioner that the best solution in family law is usually best crafted by the family itself.
2. Give an example of a circumstance where you faced an ethical dilemma or problem and explain how you solved it.
There have been a few instances throughout the years where I've represented individuals with mental health issues, which can create a dilemma in custody and timesharing issues with their children. I've always treated these individuals with thoughtfulness and compassion and encouraged them to seek the best treatment providers for not only themselves but their children.
3. What do you believe are the most important qualities of a judge, and how has your professional background and life experience helped you develop those qualities?
A good judge needs to be patient but decisive, efficient, humble, and above all else, a good listener. Although attorneys and litigants may be dissatisfied with the outcome of their case, they should never feel like their voices have not been heard.
I've represented people in family court from all walks of life, men and women, fathers and mothers, relatives and fictive kin. My personal experience as the son of an immigrant and being a minority also gives me a unique insight and compassion to the parties appearing in family court.
4. As a potential or sitting judge, what do you consider to be your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
My greatest strength is that I listen. Lawyers are known for talking and arguing, but I find that I have built so much rapport over the years with my clients because I listen.
There is a balance, however. As a Judge, everyone needs to be heard but within limits. No individual case should consume a Court's docket to the detriment of other cases. Balancing the two is a test for every Judge.
5. What or who are the major influences in your life and why?
My parents. They have shaped me to become the person, husband, father, and lawyer I am today. They taught me about the importance of hard work and sacrifice and the importance of maintaining a positive outlook even in the most trying of times. My parents grew up on opposite ends of the world and each experienced their share of hardships, yet they've always remained positive.
My wife, who is also an attorney, is my sounding board for everything. Misty is my biggest advocate and supporter, and I couldn't imagine my life without her in it.
6. Have you witnessed any particular injustices inside or outside the courtroom and how did you respond to those circumstances? How will you respond to similar circumstances as a judge?
Yes. I've seen trial courts enter Orders affecting the rights of litigants without giving notice to all parties. My office has gone so far as to seek extraordinary remedies through the Court of Appeals to rectify errors made by a trial court.
Although it is tempting to be swept along by passion, a Judge has to balance the need to make decisions quickly with the right to give everyone every opportunity to have his or her voice heard.
7. Who are your judicial role models and why?
The Judge, Dan Kelly, I clerked for immediately after graduating law school will forever be "my Judge." Judge Kelly was patient, compassionate, thoughtful, and efficient. I've never seen a Judge resolve cases quicker while at the same time being so thoughtful.
In practice, I've seen many Judges who conduct their Courtroom in ways I admire that I would like to incorporate into my Courtroom.
8. Describe a circumstance where you took a difficult or controversial position and how you handled it.
I had a client who had lost custody of her children for several years because of substance abuse, but she had turned her life around. She had a home, a job, stability, and the desire to have her children back in her care. Many people wouldn't have believed in her, but I saw how committed she was to changing her life. The Court agreed, and she now has custody of her children again.
9. How would you describe your general judicial philosophy?
Judges are duty-bound to uphold the law. Judges should not let their personal and/or religious beliefs affect the way they decide cases. I believe in treating all individuals fairly and equally, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.
10. What are some of the most significant challenges facing Kentucky's judicial system and how do you propose to address them?
As I mentioned above, balancing the realities of a Family Court docket while giving every party a voice and every opportunity to be heard is a challenge. I've seen some Judges fail in that regard, at both extremes. A fair Judge has to find balance. It is possible that every voice can be heard but cases can be decided quickly and dockets can be heard efficiently.