IAPAC Organizes Brunch Gathering to Delve into Texas Judicial System

Judges Tamika Carter, Surendran K. Pattel with IAPAC board members and guests.

SUGAR LAND — The Indian American Political Action Committee of Greater Houston (IAPAC) recently organized a brunch as part of its “Conversations Over Coffee” series (CoC@IAPAC) on September 10, 2023, at Ailings Chinese Bistro, who sponsored the event. Purusottam Sahoo and Gaurav Jhaveri co-chaired the event which delved into the intricacies of the state-level judicial system and the experiences of sitting judges.

The guests were judges Tameika Carter, Surendran K. Pattel, and Juli Mathew. Roopa Gir, President of IAPAC, commenced the event by introducing IAPAC’s CoC@IAPAC, which aims to address educational topics and issues of concern to the community. Following introductions of the guests by Purusottam Sahoo, the gathering transitioned into an engaging Q&A session.

Judges Juli Mathew, Tamika Carter, and Surendran K. Pattel.

Sartaj Bal, a prior Republican Nominee for a judicial bench, adeptly moderated, directing questions tailored to each judge’s courtroom. Judge Mathew fielded inquiries about the appeals process from the Justice of Peace Courts, and her court’s jurisdiction over civil, criminal and probate matters.  She discussed jury selection and expressed the challenges judges face when prospective jurors make dishonest statements during the selection process to avoid jury duty. Fort Bend County Judge KP George, briefly in attendance as an audience member, reiterated the importance of civic engagement and shared his perspective on its significance.

Judge Carter elucidated her role as an administrative judge and the process by which district courts are created, highlighting the differences in funding between district and county courts at law, which are established and funded locally. In setting bond amounts, Judge Carter explained some of the factors considered such as the defendant’s criminal history, the nature of the charge, prior arrests while on probation or bond, the risk posed to society, and flight risk.

Judge Pattel responded to questions on mediation, arbitration, and litigation. Contractual arbitration clauses are enforceable and arbitration awards are final and not appealable. He also clarified the differing burdens of proof required in civil cases versus criminal cases, emphasizing that civil cases rely on a preponderance of evidence while criminal cases demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt, a substantially higher threshold.

This event marked a resounding success, with active community participation and engagement in the conversation. Similar CoC@IAPAC events are planned throughout the year. For further information, please contact IAPACHOUSTON@GMAIL.COM.


The Indian American Political Action Committee of Greater Houston (IAPAC) stands as the only nonpartisan PAC representing Indian Americans in the Greater Houston region. Its mission is to promote political awareness, provide a non-partisan platform for political action, and foster civic engagement.