Indian-American judge in Minnesota pleads guilty to drunk driving

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Ramsey County District Court Judge Gurdip Singh Atwal (G. Tony Atwal) of Minnesota, pleaded guity Jan. 2, to DWI. (Photo courtesy Ramsey County Sheriff’s office)

An Indian-American district court judge pleaded guilty Jan. 2, the day after he was arrested for careless driving and running through a red light and charged with driving while intoxicated.

Ramsey County District Court Judge Gurdip Singh Atwal, (also referred to as G. Tony Atwal), was charged on Jan. 1, and pleaded guilty to DWI the next day.

“I can’t express in words the remorse I feel,” Atwal is quoted saying in a twincities.com news report. Atwal apologized to colleagues, and Minnesotans, saying “I’m humbled and shamed by what happened,” and accepted that he made “poor decisions” and how those endangered fellow citizens, the news report said, adding that Atwal had faced a similar charge back in 2007.

A copy of Atwal’s arrest and charges as well as his official photos, was sent to News India Times by the Ramsay County Sheriff’s Office.

Atwal was charged with two counts of third-degree DWI (Driving While Intoxicated), careless driving and failing to stop at a STOP sign. Police found a blood-alcohol level  of .17 where the allowable limit is .08, according to twincities.com.

The judge was sentenced to 365 days of which 345 days were stayed for two years, leaving 20 days to be served since date of arrest Jan. 1. He will wear an ankle bracelet and is allowed to travel to work and back, according to twincities.com. The Indian-American’s case was handled by a different county judge, Hennepin County Judge Shereen M. Askalani, to avoid conflict of interest, the report said.

Atwal, who is also an adjunct professor at his alma mater Mitchell Hamline School of law, was also sentenced to two years of supervised probation and a chemical dependency evaluation.Though his attorney expressed the hope that Atwal would be serving his sentence and getting back to work,  twincities.com reported that Ramsey County Chief Judge John Guthmann, was reviewing Atwal’s sentence and was not certain when the Indian-American judge would be allowed back to work.

A graduate of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, Atwal was appointed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in 2016. His term expires in January 2019.

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