Indian-origin Monica Singh sworn in as 1st female Sikh judge

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Singh’s father immigrated to the US in the early 1970s. A trial lawyer for 20 years, she has been involved in numerous civil rights organizations at the local, state, and national levels….reports Asian Lite News

Indian-origin Manpreet Monica Singh has been sworn in as a Harris county judge, becoming the first female Sikh judge in the US.

Singh was born and raised in Houston and now lives in Bellaire with her husband and two children. She was sworn in as a judge of the Harris County Civil Court at Law No. 4 in Texas on Friday.

Singh’s father immigrated to the US in the early 1970s. A trial lawyer for 20 years, she has been involved in numerous civil rights organizations at the local, state, and national levels.

“It means a lot to me because I represent H-town (a nickname of Houston) the most, so for it to be us, I’m happy for it,” she said at the oath ceremony. Indian-American Judge Ravi Sandill, the state’s first South Asian judge, presided over the ceremony, which took place in a packed courtroom.

“It’s a really big moment for the Sikh community,” Sandill said. “When they see someone of color, someone a little different, they know that possibility is available to them. Manpreet is not only an ambassador for Sikhs, but she’s an ambassador for all women of colour,” he said.

There are an estimated 500,000 Sikhs in the US, with 20,000 Sikhs living in the Houston area. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said: “It was a proud day for the Sikh Community, but also a proud day for all people of Colour who see the Diversity of the City of Houston in the Diversity of the Court.”

Meanwhile, on New Year’s Day, it was a dream come true for US-settled Keralite Surendran K. Pattel as he was sworn in as the judge of 240th Judicial District Court in Texas’ Fort Bend county.

District judges are chosen through elections in the US and Pattel, 51, defeated the sitting judge in the first round of the election to become the first Malayalee to be a district judge in the US.

Pattel’s path to the post was far from easy and was due to his determination, hard work, and the willingness to fight his way upwards, as he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. As his parents were daily wage earners, he, to make both ends meet, had to work as ‘bidi’ roller and soon became an expert. Life was tough for him when he took a break for a year after his Class 10.

He completed his further education and bachelor’s degree, while engaging in part time work including as a daily labourer so as to earn his livelihood, but never let it affect his studies.

After enrolling for LLB at a college in Kozhikode, he worked in a hotel and in 1995, he passed law and straight away entered into practising law.

Then came his marriage to Shubha, a nurse by profession and he moved base to Delhi and was practising at the Supreme Court.

In 2007, his wife got an opportunity to work in the US and he too joined her and since his passion was law, he, after working in a supermarket for a while, appeared for the Texas bar exam and cleared it.

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