IAPAC’s inaugural “Conversations Over Coffee” event on understanding the US Judicial system in Katy

IAPAC organizing team with panelists: from left- Dr. Roopa Gir, FB District Attorney Brian Middleton, F B County Judge K P George, Sindu Menon, Judge Cristian J Becerra, Indrani De Sirkar, Dr. Purusottam Sahoo, Dr. Parvin Shaikh, Deepti Nigudkar, and IAPAC Intern Lakshay Yadav.

KATY: On March 17, 2024, the Indo-American Political Action Committee (IAPAC) hosted a dynamic session of Conversations Over Coffee (COC) at Turmeric Indian Restaurant in Katy, TX. The event, chaired by Deepti Nigudkar and Parvin Shaikh, brought together prominent legal professionals from Fort Bend County, including District Attorney Brian Middleton, Judge Christian Becerra from the 434th District Court. Moderated by IAPAC board member Purusottam Sahoo, the gathering provided an engaging platform for dialogue and insight. As IAPAC President, Dr Roopa Gir noted in her introduction, COCs aim to foster civic engagement, strengthen community relations, and promote informed voting decisions.

The event provided a unique platform for the Indian American community to directly interact with key figures in the local justice system. Attendees gained valuable insights into the inner workings of the courts and the challenges faced by legal professionals.

DA Middleton emphasized his office’s commitment to protecting the most vulnerable, stating, “Our highest priority always and forever will be the protection of our most vulnerable, which are women and children.” He also discussed the importance of making “evidence-based decisions using best practices” to ensure fair prosecution while holding offenders accountable.

Judge Becerra provided insights into the daily operations and challenges faced in the 434th District Court. Under his leadership, the court has implemented reforms to reduce case backlogs and utilize technology for more efficient proceedings. “What we’ve done in my courtroom is we’ve updated the AV system, right, that allows us to check in on our phone,” he explained. Judge Becerra stressed the significance of bringing positive reform to the justice system in Fort Bend County.

The Q&A session allowed for a lively exchange of ideas and concerns. During the Q&A session, the officials addressed a range of topics, including:

– Educating voters: Judge Becerra emphasized the need for elected officials to engage with the community and be accountable. DA Middleton discussed his office’s efforts to provide community feedback and the importance of in-person outreach.

– Differences between the federal and state legal systems: DA Middleton explained the jurisdictional differences and how his office collaborates with federal agencies on cases.

– Bail reform and protecting the rights of the accused: The officials discussed the challenges of the cash bail system and the importance of upholding the presumption of innocence while ensuring public safety.

– The role of partisanship in the judicial system: Both Judge Becerra and DA Middleton stressed that their duties are to interpret the law and seek justice impartially, regardless of political affiliations.

County Judge KP George commended IAPAC for organizing educational sessions like COCs across town. “It is very important and I’m glad that IAPAC is engaging in these kinds of educational sessions to encourage civic engagement in this community so that we can be better informed citizens,” he remarked. County Judge George also highlighted various internship opportunities available for high school and college students through his office and other county departments.

For more information on upcoming IAPAC events and initiatives, visit https://iapachouston.org/  or follow them on social media. To learn about internship opportunities with the county, contact IAPAC by email iapachouston@gmail.com.

IAPAC has plans to host similar CoC@IAPAC events throughout the greater houston area. For more information, please reach out to IAPACHOUSTON@GMAIL.COM or call (832) 756-7146