Attorney Somnath ‘Raj’ Chatterjee; public defender Neetu Badhan-Smith, both from India, have been appointed by California Governor Jerry Brown on May 22 as Superior Court judges in the state. Also appointed was Bangladeshi American attorney Rubiya Nur.
Chatterjee, 47, will serve in Alameda County Superior Court. The Oakland, Calif., resident has been a partner at Antolin Agarwal and Chatterjee since earlier in 2017. He was a partner at Morrison and Foerster LLP from 2006 to 2017, and served as an associate from 1997 to 2005.
Chatterjee also served as a deputy public defender at the Contra Costa County Public Defender’s Office from 1999 to 2000 and was an associate at Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal from 1995 to 1996.
He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Badhan-Smith has served as a deputy public defender at the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office since 2004. The 40-year-old Los Angeles resident was formerly an attorney at the Southern California Housing Rights Center. Badhan-Smith earned a Juris Doctor degree from Southwestern Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
The Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus lauded the appointments of Chatterjee and Nur, as well as the appointment of Benjamin Reyes to the Superior Court of Contra Costa County. “Governor Brown has selected three outstanding legal minds who will uphold the highest ideals of our judicial system,” said Assembly member Rob Bonta, chair of the API Legislative Caucus. “It’s critical that our judiciary reflects our communities. As the fastest growing population in California, Asian Pacific Islanders have not been represented in appropriate numbers on the bench. This is a step in the right direction,” he said.