Indian American Rupa Ranga Puttagunta named as federal judge

Rupa Ranga Puttagunta
Rupa Ranga Puttagunta

Trailblazing nominee would be the first Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) woman on DC court.

President Joe Biden has announced his intent to nominate Indian American Rupa Ranga Puttagunta as a federal judge among a slate of 11 “trailblazing” judicial nominees reflecting “the full diversity of the American people.”

If confirmed by the US Senate, Puttagunta would be the first Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) woman to serve on the US District Court for the District of Columbia, the White House said.

Other “groundbreaking nominees” include three African American women chosen for Circuit Court vacancies and one who would be the first Muslim American federal judge in US history, it said.

“This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession,” Biden said.

READ: Here are some of the top Indian American judges (July 23, 2020)

“Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong.”

“These highly-qualified candidates reflect the president’s deeply-held conviction that the federal bench should reflect the full diversity of the American people – both in background and in professional experience,” the White House said.

Puttagunta, nominee for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, currently serves as an Administrative Judge for the DC Rental Housing Commission.

Prior to joining the Commission in 2019, Puttagunta was a solo practitioner from 2013 to 2019, representing indigent criminal defendants in trial and on appeal.

Before opening her own practice, Judge Puttagunta practiced family and appellate law at Delaney McKinney, LLP from 2012 to 2013.

While working on domestic relations matters in private practice, Puttagunta also provided hundreds of hours of pro bono legal services by volunteering at DC Superior Court’s Family Court Self-Help Center and Attorney Negotiator Program and representing victims of domestic violence in DC Superior Court.

Puttagunta began her legal career as a law clerk for Judge William M. Jackson of the DC Superior Court from 2008 to 2010, as well as the Senior Judges of the DC Court of Appeals from 2010 to 2011.

Puttagunta received her JD from Ohio State Moritz College of Law in 2007 and her BA. from Vassar College in 2002.

Among the nominees announced Tuesday Zahid N Quraishi of Pakistani descent, who if confirmed by the Senate would be the first Muslim American federal judge in US history.

Nominee for the US District Court for the District of New Jersey, Quraishi is currently Magistrate Judge in the same court since 2019.

Prior to that Quraishi was a partner at Riker Danzig where he chaired the firm’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Investigations Group and served as his firm’s first Chief Diversity Officer.

The South Asian Bar Association welcomed the nominations of Puttagunta and Quraishi, tweeting, “We are proud to see Judges Rupa Ranga Puttagunta and Zahid Quraishi on the list” of Biden’s judicial nominees.

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