President Barack Obama nominated Assistant United States Attorney Diane Gujarati, 47, to the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York September 13. If confirmed by
the US Senate, she will create history by becoming the first Indian-American Article III judge in New York.
Gujarati has been deputy chief of the Criminal Division of the US
Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York since 2012.
She has served as an Assistant US Attorney in the Criminal Division
Prior to her tenure as deputy chief of the Criminal Division, from
2008 to 2012, she served as deputy chief and then Chief of the
White Plains Division of the US Attorney’s Office for the SDNY.
From 2006 to 2008, she was deputy chief of the Appeals Unit in
the Criminal Division of the US Attorney’s Office for SDNY.
Prior to joining the US Attorney’s Office, Gujarati was an associate
in the New York office of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP from 1996 to
She began her legal career as a law clerk to Judge John M
Walker, Jr, of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from
1995 to 1996.
Gujarati received her J D from the Yale Law School in 1995 and
her Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, from Barnard
College of Columbia University in 1990.
In nominating Gujarati, the President said, ‘I am confident she
will serve the American people with distinction.’
Subodh Chandra, former law director for Cleveland, Ohio and a
classmate of Gujarati’s at the Yale Law School, told India Abroad,
“Diane is a kind and caring public servant whom I am proud to have
known since law school.”
“In law school”, Chandra, who now heads The Chandra Law Firm,
LLC in Cleveland, reminisced, “Diane asked me to play the defen-
dant Michael Jackson in a mock trial involving abuse allegations. I
went all out wearing a costume and make up, and doing an over-
the-top impression of Jackson.”
“Everyone in the courtroom during the mock trial — including a
Connecticut Supreme Court justice who was presiding — was crack-
ing up,” he said. “But Diane kept a straight face the entire time and
did an amazing job eliciting dramatic testimony from me, objecting
to my cross-examination by the other side, etc, to the point where I
started to believe I was Michael Jackson — an indignant victim of a
“And as I recall,” he added, “Diane won the round.”
“She has the perfect temperament for this job — she will be kind,
firm, and fair to all sides,” Chandra said. “She will make an outstand-
ing federal judge.”
“With this historic appointment, President Obama has shown yet
again that he and the Democratic Party care about engaging in pub-
lic service, quality, intelligent, thoughtful people from every sort of
diverse background,” he continued. “The President has changed the
face of our government to look more like America.”
Vichal Kumar, president, South Asian Bar Association of North
America, said in a statement, ‘We applaud the Obama administra-
tion’s consistent effort to promote the diversity of our judiciary by
nominating the exceedingly qualified Diane Gujarati. We are
pleased that another deserving South Asian has been recognized
and we urge the Senate to quickly confirm her nomination.’
The city of Norco in California’s con- tention when it rejected a proposal to build a Hindu temple —
that the applicant was unwilling to comply with guidelines — has been contested
by the applicant’s architect-engineer.
In October 2014, Manu Patolia, a follower
of the Swaminarayan Gurukul based in
Rajkot, Gujarat, proposed a Swaminarayan
Gurukul, which would be both a temple and
The proposal was to build a 26,290
square feet two-storied temple covering
4.096 acres of land with 111 parking lots.
“The project did not comply with the
city’s requirements,” City Manager Andy
Okoro told India Abroad in a telephone
The height of the building, he pointed
out, exceeded 45 feet while the normal
size of buildings in the area is 35 feet. The
applicant proposed 21 classrooms,
a multi-purpose hall, a banquet hall and residential
“The area where they wanted to build the temple is residential and so it does not comply with the city’s variance,” Okoro said.
“We had several meetings before having the public meeting, but they were not ready to comply,” he reiterated.
“Also, they proposed 111 parking spaces. It is a small
town, so that was a big issue since it would create traffic,”
To build anything on the chosen location, Okoro said,
would’ve required an extensive amount of grading of
land. “We were concerned about the mass grading of
land,” he added, “because it would impact the municipal
water storage facility that is very close to the project site.
The tank on top of the hill supplies water to city resi-
dents, so it was a big concern.” But Syed Raza, the architect who worked on the temple project for two years,
felt the community was biased when it
rejected the proposal: “It’s sad it got reject-
ed. We worked for more than a year on the
project after the city’s planning rules
made several changes.
“We could sue them because legally they
cannot do this.”
Asked why Manu Patolia, the applicant,
did not agree to bring the building’s height
down to 35 feet as Okoro claimed, Raza
responded, “It’s a false allegation. We
brought the height down, below 35 feet.”
Asked about the city’s concern about the
water tank nearby, Raza said, “What they
are saying is not true.”
The water tank, he said, was located 200
feet away from the proposed location for the
“The community did not know what we
were building,” Raza said, “so we kept
designing according to their demands. The
proposed temple was on top of the hill and I think that is
what they did not like. The temple would be seen from a
Patolia was confident of getting the project passed, Raza
said, since he had followed whatever the city asked. The
only mistake was probably not interacting with the com-
munity before the project came up for review.
Patolia did not return India Abroad”s phone calls.
“He is very disheartened that he lost his dream project,”
said. “He is a hard-working guy.”
Aziz Haniffa reports on President Obama’s pick for the
US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
Why Norco, CA, rejected Hindu temple proposal
Diane Gujarati is the daughter of Damodar M Gujarati, a professor of economics at the US Military Academy at West Point, and Ruth Pincus Gujarati. FACEBOOK.COM/AABANY
The proposal was to build a 26,290 square feet two-storied temple covering 4,096 acres of land with 111 parking lots.
‘Diane Gujarati will make an
outstanding federal judge’