Three American Malayalees take oath as county judges in US
Thursday 12 January 2023 7:41 PM UTC
HOUSTON Jan 13: Three Indian-American Democrats have taken oath as Fort Bend County Judges in the United States. In a ceremony on Sunday, Juli A. Mathew, K.P. George, and Surendran K. Pattel were sworn in as Fort Bend County judges, along with other newly elected and re-elected officials.
Juli A. Mathew, the first Indian-American woman to be elected to a judge’s bench in the US four years ago, was re-elected for a second term after defeating her Republican challenger Andrew Dornburg.
Juli A. Mathew, a native of Thiruvalla in Kerala, was sworn in via videoconferencing and will continue to serve as presiding judge for a period of four years. She was voted the Administrative Judge for the County Courts by her peers and also heads the first Juvenile Intervention and Mental Health Court.
In a Facebook post after winning the election, she wrote, “Thank you! I am truly grateful to have been selected to serve the citizens of Fort Bend County for one more term. I’m grateful for every supporter, prayer warrior, and voter during this journey.”
K.P. George, the first Indian-American to hold an office in Fort Bend County, won a second term as the county’s judge in a narrow race in the November elections. He hails from Kerala’s Kakkodu city.
K.P. George, a 57-year-old Democrat, whose win in 2018 made him a trailblazer in the Houston area and beyond, said he hopes it stays that way now that he’s been granted another four years as the chief executive for one of the most diverse and fastest-growing counties in the country. He said that community engagement will be the top priority for his administration.
The county also welcomed District Court Judge Surendran K Pattel, who edged Republican Edward M. Krenek in the race for the 240th Judicial District in November.
The 52-year-old, a native of Kerala, with an experience of over 25 years has been a Texas attorney since 2009, prior to which he was a lawyer in India, where he earned his law Degree in 1995 from the University of Calicut.
According to his website, in 2015, Surendran K Pattel was elected as the president of the Malayalee Association of Greater Houston, a 2,500-member nonprofit organisation that serves more than 12,000 Indian families.
Surendran Pattel spent his childhood in grinding poverty. His parents were labourers who depended on meagre daily wages to feed their six children. As a teenager, he dropped out of school after not scoring well in his exams. He worked hard in hotels and with help from people he got a degree in political science in 1992 before studying law. He started to work with a lawyer in Hosdurg in Kerala’s Kasaragod district.
Surendran Pattel moved to Delhi when his wife, Subha, got a job at a hospital in India’s capital Delhi. In Delhi, he worked with a Supreme Court lawyer for a few months before his wife had to move again – this time to the US.
The couple moved to Texas in 2007, where Mr Pattel worked in a grocery store for some time before realising that he could take the Bar exam in Texas. He then went on to get a degree in international law. He then went to become the county judge although he has to go through several hurdles. – PTI