New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced 46 judicial appointments for the New Year, including one new appointment and two reappointments of three Indian-Americans. All three are women judges.
Judge Archana Rao was appointed by the Mayor to Civil Court and has been assigned to Criminal Court. She has spent her entire career so far with the New York County District Attorney’s Office working in several bureaus during her 17 year tenure there, is a new appointee, according to a press release from the Mayor’s office Jan. 31. She last served as Bureau Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau. She joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in 2001. She was assigned to the trial division, where, in addition to prosecuting street crime cases, she served in the Domestic Violence Unit and the Welfare Fraud Unit, according to a bio on the Asian Women in Business which had her on its list of “Asian Women Prosecutors and the Pursuit of Justice: in 2013. In 2004, she was assigned to the Special Prosecutions Bureau where she handled a variety of investigations and prosecutions, including frauds involving mortgages, housing and securities as well as computer crimes. She eventually rose to become Bureau Chief. Judge Rao is a graduate of Vassar College and Fordham University School of Law.
de Blasio reappointed Judge Raja Rajeswari who was the first Indian-American woman to be appointed as a Criminal Court Judge in April 2015. She was a career prosecutor for 16 years with the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office. Her work primarily involved women and children, according to the website talksonlaw.com. Chennai-born Rajeswari immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager and is an accomplished Bharathanatyam and Kucchipudi dancer. She speaks Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu, and Sinhalease. Judge Rajeswari is a graduate of CUNY College of Staten Island and received her law degree from Brooklyn Law School.
Judge Deepa Ambekar was reappointed to Civil Court. She was first appointed as an Interim Civil Court Judge in May 2018 and has been serving in Criminal Court. Prior to her appointment, Judge Ambekar served with the New York City Council as a Senior Legislative Attorney and Counsel to the Committee on Public Safety. In that position, Ambekar handled numerous responsibilities including analyzing federal, state, and local laws to provide legal and policy counsel to the Speaker on issues related to bail, summons reform, pre-trial incarceration, Rikers reform, and criminal justice issues, her LinkedIn profile details.
Prior to that, she served as a Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division, where she represented more than 1,000 defendants facing felony and misdemeanor charges. Judge Ambekar is a graduate of the University of Michigan and received her J.D. from Rutgers Law School.
The 46 judges include four appointments and two reappointments to Family Court; nine appointments and nineteen reappointments to Criminal Court; and nine appointments and three reappointments to Civil Court, the Jan. 31 press release from the Mayor’s office said. Judges appointed or reappointed to Civil Court sit in either Criminal or Family Court. The appointments were effective January 1, 25, and 28. In addition, Mayor de Blasio has designated three appointees for vacancies anticipated in March.
“An impartial justice system is essential to building a fairer city for all. The thirteen judges I am appointing, and the thirty-three I am welcoming back, will represent the people of our city with fair and effective judicial oversight of our courts,” de Blasio is quoted saying in the press release.
Family, Criminal and Civil Court are part of the New York State Unified Court System. Family Court judges hear cases related to adoption, foster care and guardianship, custody and visitation, domestic violence, abused or neglected children, and juvenile delinquency. The City’s Criminal Court handles misdemeanor cases and lesser offenses, and conducts arraignments.