Indian-American appointed US state judge

Sunil R Kulkarni, a prominent Indian-American lawyer, has been appointed as a state judge in Northern California, becoming the first South Asian to assume the position.

Kulkarni, 41, who has served as a senior counsel in the litigation group at the University of California was appointed to Santa Clara County Superior Court by Governor Jerry Brown last week, local ethnic newspaper India-West reported.

Born in Los Angeles and a resident of Palo Alto in California, Kulkarni said, he was "thrilled to get the call" from the governor's office about the appointment, the newspaper reported.

Asked about the fact that more South Asian Americans are advancing in the legal and judicial fields, Kulkarni said he believes "it is because South Asians in my generation" are "more open about law as a career."

Kulkarni has a BS from UC-Berkeley and a law degree from the University of California's Hastings College of the Law. He has also served as a law clerk for Judge Oliver W Wanger in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California from 1996-97.

Kulkarni's appointment comes on the heels of Skikanth "Sri" Srinivasan's historic appointment and confirmation by the US Senate in May to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, considered the second most powerful court in the nation.

There has been a flurry of recent appointments and nominations of South Asians to the judiciary in California and the US.

In 2010, Indian American Paul Singh Grewal was appointed a magistrate judge in US District Court for the Northern District of California.

The appointments of South Asians to the judiciary also include Rupa S Goswami to the Superior Court in July, Alka Sagar, who was named a federal magistrate judge for the Central District of California and Vince Girdhari Chhabria, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to the US District Court for Northern California.

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