Sugar Land City Council appoints municipal court's first South Asian judge

SUGAR LAND, Texas -- Sugar Land City Council confirmed three new associate judges June 22, appointing James Connelly; Shawn McDonald; and Erum Jivani, the city municipal court's first South Asian judge.

"I am honored to be serving the city of Sugar Land constituents and also to be the first South Asian judge to be appointed in this diverse city and county," Jivani said.

A resident of Sugar Land and a Clements High School alumna, Jivani has been practicing law since 2003 after earning her law degree from South Texas College of Law. Since 2017, she has served as an associate judge in the Pearland Municipal Court.

Jivani, Connelly and McDonald will join four other associate judges under the supervision of the city's presiding judge, Craig Landin.

For over a year, the court has been unable to hold in-person jury trials and is now facing a backlog of over 600 cases, according to city documents. To address this, Landin said at the council meeting the court plans to change the court schedule and hold trials all day for three days a week as well as on some Friday mornings.

From a candidate pool of 32, Jivani, Connelly and McDonald were unanimously approved by the council to serve as associate judges. With this addition to the court staff, Landin says they will be better able to handle the increased trial schedule.

According to Landin, the new appointments will not cost the city any more than it would have to have four associates with increased workloads, since the judges are paid by the hour. At the council meeting, the mayor said the council had already planned for a budget increase in anticipation of addressing the court's backlog.

The video above is from a previous story about the history of the city of Sugar Land.

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