Ned Bertulfo: New York’s first Filipino State Law Judge

The Statue of Liberty in New York Town, New York, USA.

Who would have concept {that a} easy man from Masbate can be New York’s first Filipino State Regulation Pass judgement on? For Pass judgement on Ned, the adventure from the island province to a New York State judgeship was once difficult but inspiring.


After passing the Philippine Bar exam in February 1972, Pass judgement on Ned’s father, the overdue Vice-Mayor Fernando G. Bertulfo of Placer, Masbate, made him make a choice his congratulatory reward between a automobile or a travel to america. The verdict was once simple for Ned. The affection of his lifestyles, Amelia, have been operating as a nurse in New York since December 1971. So in Would possibly 1972, he left for the USA, as a vacationer.

“I deliberate to go back to the Philippines in September or October, however then President (Ferdinand) Marcos declared Martial Regulation in September. I used to be prompt through my family members in L.A. (Los Angeles, California) to not move house. So I stayed. To make sure that my keep right here was once criminal, I requested my spouse, my female friend then, ‘allow us to get married, so I will exchange my standing.’ She agreed. After the wedding, she petitioned for my everlasting keep as her dependent. Kilala ni Justice Nick (Francisco “Nick” Acosta, Secretary and Chair of the Fee on Filipinos In another country) ang misis ko. He joined us in a lot of our escapades,” Pass judgement on Ned stated.

If Martial Regulation was once no longer declared, Pass judgement on Ned deliberate to pursue a political profession in Masbate, simply as his folks had sought after him to do. “To be truthful, had been it no longer for Martial Regulation, I might were again within the Philippines. The whole lot was once deliberate through my folks. They sought after me to be in politics,” reminisced Pass judgement on Ned.


Coming from a circle of relatives of modest but relaxed way in Masbate, he was once no longer ready for lifestyles in The us. “In the USA, I used to be in reality surprised in the beginning as a result of I needed to do the entirety. I needed to blank the dishes, wash my shirts. I in reality needed to paintings exhausting. I did not have someone else to depend on as opposed to my spouse, however she labored nights as a nurse. She would come house at about 8 o’clock within the morning, after her shift, and naturally she needed to move to mattress.” Pass judgement on Ned recalled.

Judge Ned Bertulfo with his family.

Pass judgement on Ned Bertulfo along with his circle of relatives.

Judge Ned Bertulfo with Philippine Supreme Court Justice Noel Tijam

Pass judgement on Ned Bertulfo with Philippine Ultimate Court docket Justice Noel Tijam

Judge Bertulfo with President Rodrigo Duterte

Pass judgement on Bertulfo with President Rodrigo Duterte

Judge Bertulfo with DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade

Pass judgement on Bertulfo with DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade

Regardless of his legislation level, Pass judgement on Bertulfo began lifestyles in the USA as a salesperson and stock clerk-doing the activity for roughly 5 months. “The paintings was once very problematic as a result of I did not have any native revel in. An important factor on this nation is native revel in. My first activity was once as a salesperson on the Florsheim shoe retailer. I labored there for a month. I used that activity as my reference in making use of at a males’s uniqueness clothes shop known as Wallax. I was a inventory stock clerk. My activity was once counting all of the fits in several sizes. I labored at Florsheim within the morning and Wallax within the night time.”

He in any case made up our minds to make use of his coaching and schooling and was once ready to get employed through the large legislation company Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. He began within the Record Division, then moved to the Library prior to turning into a paralegal.

Pass judgement on Ned stated Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy was once one of the most largest legislation corporations in the USA and prided itself in hiring handiest legislation graduates from Ivy League faculties as buddies and companions. “As a report clerk, I attempted to tell apart myself via my wisdom of legislation and criminal jargon. Perhaps as a result of that, I used to be briefly promoted to paralegal within the company’s litigation division,” Ned shared.


Sensing that he had really extensive doable as a attorney, one among his bosses instructed that he take the New York State Bar examination to realize skilled standing as a attorney. In 1973, the USA Ultimate Court docket dominated that American citizenship was once no longer a demand for taking the Bar examinations or for admission to the Bar in any state.

Then again, international legislation graduates wanted no less than 5 years of club within the Bar within the nation the place they bought their legislation levels in an effort to take the New York Bar tests. “In November 1976, I used to be requested to report a petition with the Court docket of Appeals with a supporting affidavit from the senior spouse. And lo and behold! It was once authorized, which allowed me to take the New York Bar tests in 1977 with out additional legislation research,” Pass judgement on Ned stated.

He was the youngest international applicant, at age 25, to be allowed to take the New York Bar tests with out going to legislation college for additional research. He needed to take a grueling collection of assessment categories to arrange for the tests. Ned saved operating at Milbank because of monetary constraints. He attended assessment categories after paintings and were given house after 11 p.m. His first daughter had simply been born and, along with his spouse operating the night time shift, he was once left with little time for self-study. He failed the tests because of inadequate preparation.

Regardless of the setback, he didn’t surrender. The next 12 months he attended criminal writing categories at New York College (NYU) and handed the Bar examination in 1978. The pass judgement on stated the criminal writing categories at NYU helped so much. “I believe that was once the rationale I handed the Bar the second one time round,” Ned stated.

Whilst taking on criminal writing at NYU, Ned was once promoted from paralegal to legislation clerk. He engaged in litigation paintings on the Managing Legal professional’s Workplace and the Assortment Division.


The admission to the New York State Bar was once Ned’s first step into the criminal career. He implemented for more than a few criminal positions at most sensible legislation corporations in New York, in search of new demanding situations and higher alternatives. He was once employed as an affiliate through one among Wall Side road’s most sensible legislation corporations, Bleakley, Platt, Schmidt and Fritz, whose shoppers come with huge insurance coverage firms and railroad firms. Ned was inquisitive about courtroom litigation paintings at Bleakley and, because of his boundless power and talent to transport issues, he was once given general accountability for the Managing Legal professional’s Workplace within the litigation division.

With the calls for of elevating a tender circle of relatives of 2 daughters and the lengthy shuttle to town, he felt it was once time to refocus his priorities. After two years at Bleakley, along with his lengthy operating hours because of a heavy caseload on weekdays or even weekends, mixed along with his need to spend extra time along with his daughters, he felt it was once time to transport on.

Ned believed that coming into public provider was once an effective way to transport on. He implemented for the placement of workforce legal professional at more than a few govt companies, together with the Securities and Change Fee and the Division of Human Sources. In December 1980, he started operating on the International Industry Middle as an Administrative Regulation Pass judgement on for the New York State Division of Hard work’s Unemployment Insurance coverage Enchantment Board.

In 1985, with the improve of a lot of neighborhood leaders, organizations and native politicians, then Governor Mario Cuomo appointed Ned as the primary Filipino New York State Regulation Pass judgement on, adjudicating work-related injuries, disabilities and discrimination instances. So by the point Sep 11 took place in 2001, Ned had already moved places of work from the Dual Towers to a State Regulation court docket and was once, thereby, spared from the tragedy. “However I used to be one of the most ten judges selected to listen to all 11th of September instances statewide,” recalled Ned.

Ned persisted to be concerned out of doors of the court docket. He has been a member of the New York State Bar Affiliation since 1978 and the New York State Judges Affiliation since 1985. He’s a member of the Asian American Caucus Board of Administrators and a founding member of the Asian American of Rockland (AMOR). From 1987 to 1989, he served as President of the Filipino Affiliation of Rockland. He’s these days the Chair of the Board and previous President of the Masbate Affiliation of The us, Inc., a New Jersey not-for-profit tax-exempt company.

Ned and Amelia have two grown daughters, Aimee Elizabeth and Annette Pleasure, who adopted in his footsteps and is now a attorney. They have got 4 grandchildren, 10-year-old Parker, 7-year-old Anna, 7-year-old Theodore, and 6-year-old Alisha.

The lifetime of a pass judgement on is tricky paintings and significant. A pass judgement on will have to spend numerous hours weighing arguments offered for the sake of the justice device. A pass judgement on has to have perseverance and power despite the fact that his again aches from lengthy classes of work, which occasionally move from nightfall to first light.

Pass judgement on Ned had hurdled those demanding situations as he rose to that enviable place of pass judgement on. From a shoe retailer, he had moved to a court docket, sitting on a bench and wielding a gavel. Some other people would possibly say it was once his destiny. For Ned, taking a look again to the place he began, it was once no longer mere happenstance that he rose to the lofty place of pass judgement on. It was once his pastime that continues to burn brightly and fiercely.

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