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Taipei-born Immigrant Makes History with District Attorney Selection

Scott Tsui has been named Assistant District Attorney in Santa Clara County.

Contributed by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office:

Scott Tsui, an immigrant from Taiwan who, as a deputy district attorney, successfully prosecuted violent gang members and sophisticated con artists and has led the Office’s highly successful Economic Crimes Group for the last seven years, has been selected as an Assistant District Attorney, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced Monday.  

Mr. Tsui’s American immigrant’s story began as a 14-year-old boy who could speak little English, working at his parent’s grocery store in San Leandro. It continues today, after 20 years as a highly successful prosecutor and more than 40 trials, with Mr. Tsui, 46, becoming the first Asian-American to serve in such a high position at the District Attorney’s Office. 

“I am inspired by Scott Tsui’s dedication to this country and to public service,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “We share a common goal: to make sure this prosecutor’s office is as outstanding as it can be and serves our community by ensuring equal justice for all.”  

Born in Taipei County, Mr. Tsui moved to the Bay Area in 1980. When not working for his parent’s store or in school, he cleaned bingo parlors, washed ashtrays and worked for a construction company. He was asked to drop back a grade when he registered for school because of the language barrier. Yet he graduated from a Hayward high school and was accepted to University of California at Berkeley. He graduated a Cal Bear in 1989, majoring in Political Science. 

Graduating from Golden Gate University Law School in 1992 and passing the Bar that November, Mr. Tsui worked for a small law firm in San Francisco, but had a strong desire to try cases. Trying cases, he thought to himself, is what American lawyers do.

In 1993, he joined the Sacramento County D.A.'s Office on a temporary contract. Soon he was made a permanent prosecutor. Tsui recalls his supervisor’s surprise when he asked for a day off to go to San Francisco for his naturalization swearing-in ceremony. Three years later, Mr. Tsui was in the Career Criminal Unit, but he wanted to come “home.”

In 1996, he was hired as a Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney. Since arriving he has prosecuted general felonies, served a five-year stint on the Gang Unit and two years in the Major Fraud Unit. Mr. Tsui was selected to go to the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. While there, he prosecuted federal and international white-collar crime cases.  After two-and-a-half years, Mr. Tsui returned and was appointed supervisor of the Economic Crimes Group. 

Mr. Tsui is married and the father of two children. The fluent Mandarin speaker is an American history buff, fascinated by the Civil War and Reconstruction eras of his adopted country. He keeps two framed American flags in his office: a replica of a Betsy Ross 13-star flag and a genuine 45-star American flag from the Spanish-American War-era.

“Thirty-two years after immigrating to America, my assimilation in this evolving society persists in the form of a relentless pursuit for what improves me—as a prosecutor for the community, a husband to my wife, and father to my children," he said. 

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