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History Makers: Vijay Chand Gandhi

May 3, 2010

Federal Magistrate Judge Vijay Chand Ghandi

Vijay “Jay” Chand Gandhi was sworn in on April 14 as Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. A former president of the South Asian Bar Association of Southern California (SABA-SC), Gandhi now presides over the largest federal court district in the United States. This appointment makes him the first Indian-American federal judge in California, and only the second in U.S. history. Both NASABA and the Asian Pacific Bar Association (APABA) have issued press releases telling more about Gandhi’s career and celebrating his accomplishment.

However, this news brings up the question: Why is this happening only now, in 2010?

The first Indian-American federal judge in the United States, Judge Amul Thapar of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Kentucky, was appointed less than three years ago. According to census statistics as of 2008, there are approximately 2.7 million South Asians in the U.S. Why are there only two South Asian Judges in the federal judiciary system? Speaking with India’s national newspaper, The Hindu, NAPABA Executive Director Tina Matsuoka pointed out that the community has been “severely under represented in the federal courts and this appointment goes a long way in remedying that.”

What do you think? Are South Asians under-represented in American courts? Why has it taken so long for judges like Gandhi and Thapar to be appointed? What can you do to help build diversity in our legal system? Join the conversation here, and help make history at NASABA Convention 2010.

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