Tejal Mehta, an Indian-American woman judge who promised to make a real impact to the community and treat people with compassion, has taken oath as the first justice of a district court in the US state of Massachusetts.
She will serve as the first justice of the Ayer District Court. Her swearing-in took place on Thursday.
She has served as an associate justice with the same court and was unanimously selected and sworn in by Judge Stacey Fortes, chief justice of the District Court, on March 2, the Lowell Sun newspaper reported.
“I’m confident that with her leadership … that the best is yet to come for the Ayer District Court,” said Fortes, chief justice of the District Court, who selected Mehta for the position and swore her in during the ceremony.
“As a lawyer, you can help people, but you can only help them to a point,” Mehta said, adding that “As a judge, you can do so much more and get to the root of issues and talk to people in such a way that really gets through to them.” “I have seen the same hopes and despairs in every court I have sat in as a travelling judge,” Mehta, who started her career in civil work, said.
“But when you are the first justice, then you can really get to know the community and make a real impact.” Judge Margaret Guzman, who has served as the first justice of the Ayer District Court for five years, praised the selection of Mehta as the court’s first justice, describing her as someone “who will preserve the pattern of treating people fairly.” “She makes very hard decisions that have to be made,” Guzman said.
“She doesn’t ridicule anybody, she’s thoughtful, she tells people what her decisions are about. She’s what you want a judge to be. To make the right decisions, but to do it in a way that when a person leaves, they don’t have to like what happened, but at least they understand what happened,” the report added.
Among those in attendance were several members of Mehta’s family, including her 14-year-old daughter, Mena Sheth, who is one of the three children shared by Mehta and her husband, Ketan Sheth, the report said. Mena, who was among the ceremony speakers, quoted US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) when discussing her mother.
“RBG said, ‘Fight for things you care about but do so in a way that will lead others to join you,’” Mena said.
“My mom is the exact embodiment of this quote. Through her kindness and outgoing personality, she encourages people to share her understanding of the world. Being a judge has given her the ability to see and do what’s best and I can’t think of anyone better to have that responsibility.” Mehta, a resident of Concord, started her career in civil work, before becoming a prosecutor with the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, where she served for more than a decade.
She went on to open her own practice, becoming a public defender, before pursuing a position on the bench as a circuit judge.
Mehta’s goal to focus on one place and to become the first justice of the Ayer District Court rested in a desire to make a positive impact on the community she has grown close to.
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