Judge Song Ong has served the Arizona criminal justice system for over 40 years, breaking new ground as the first Asian American woman lawyer and the first Asian woman judge in Arizona. A Phoenix native, Judge Song Ong began her career practicing in the areas of criminal prosecution, defense, and immigration law, followed by her judicial career beginning in 1986 on the Scottsdale City Court. In 1991, she became a judge for the Phoenix Municipal Court and in 2000 became the Assistant Presiding Judge. In 2005 she was appointed as the Chief Presiding Judge of Phoenix, the fifth largest city in the United States, running one of the busiest courts in the country until her retirement from the court in late 2014. Judge Song Ong became the first woman and minority to hold the chief judge position.
Judge Song Ong’s term was marked by advances in the management of DUI cases and the introduction of specialty courts to address cases involving populations with significant financial, psychological, behavioral, physical and related challenges. Phoenix’s Veterans Court, Homeless Court, Mental Health Court, and Domestic Violence Court have become models for other courts in the state and country. Judge Song Ong continues to serve as Pro Tem Judge for other jurisdictions while teaching and speaking on topics of judicial, legal and civics education as well as diversity and cultural competency.