Indian-American woman judge receives public service award

New York: Ushir Pandit-Durant, an Indian- American woman judge in New York has become the first recipient of a US public service award in recognition of her contributions in the field of law.

Queens Senior Assistant District Attorney and newly elected Civil Court Judge Pandit-Durant was honoured with the 'South Asian Public Service Award' by the Office of Immigrant Affairs under Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

The award was given to Pandit-Durant coinciding with the commemoration of Diwali by the office of the Queens District Attorney.

"It is fitting that Senior Assistant District Attorney and Judge-Elect Pandit-Durant to be the first recipient of our office's South Asian Public Service Award as she personifies the determination, strength and vitality of the Indian heritage," Brown said in a statement.

Pandit-Durant and her family emigrated from India to the US when she was 10 and "went on to excel at school and in her legal career," he said.

Earlier this month she became the first South Asian-American elected to a judgeship in Queens County. In presenting the award, Brown said, "Diversity is one of America's greatest strengths. Leadership comes in all races and ethnicities...It is important in public service to have a diversity which reflects the makeup of the community that we serve. It helps to enhance credibility, confidence and trust and better serve our community."

Pandit-Durant attended New York Law School and in 1987 joined the Queens District Attorney's Office. Following assignments in the Criminal Court and Supreme Court bureaus, Pandit-Durant was transferred to the Special Victims Bureau, where she investigated and tried difficult cases with the most vulnerable victims, the statement said.

A 15-year veteran appellate attorney, Pandit-Durant was elected to the New York City Civil Court and in January next year she will join the honored ranks of the judiciary. "With her diverse experience, strong work and moral ethics, and her indomitable spirit and compassion, Pandit-Durant will make a distinguished addition to the bench," the statement said.

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