New Executive Board For SAICBA-Q
The South Asian and Indo-Caribbean Bar Association of Queens (SAICBA-Q) installed its executive board at a ceremony at Haveli Restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens, last month.
The Honorable Ushir Pandit-Durant
President Judge Ushir Pandit-Durant, who emigrated to this country with her family at the age of ten, is the first South Asian woman elected to the bench in New York State. She has presided over Criminal matters since her election, first in Manhattan Criminal Court and since January of 2016 in Queens Criminal Court.
Prior to her election to the bench, Judge Pandit-Durant worked as an Assistant District Attorney in the Queens County District Attorney’s office for over twenty-five years. During that time she had the privilege to work in various bureaus including Criminal Court, Special Victims Bureau, Supreme Court, and most recently, the Appeals Bureau.
As an Assistant in the Appeals Bureau, Judge Pandit-Durant has appeared in all of the courts of New York State, as well as the Eastern District and the Second Circuit. She has drafted and filed countless appellate briefs, including briefs on homicide convictions, and argued those cases on appeal. She has also represented the Queens District Attorney’s Office on Federal habeas corpus petitions and post-conviction hearings.
Judge Pandit-Durant received her undergraduate degree from St. John’s University and she received her Juris Doctorate degree from New York Law School.
The Honorable Karen Gopee
Karen Gopee was appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio on December 29, 2015 as the first Indo-Caribbean Judge. During the last two years, Judge Gopee has presided over Misdemeanor and Felony matters in Queens Criminal Court.
Prior to being appointed as a Judge, she served as the Principal Court Attorney at the Red Hook Community Justice Center. In that capacity, she handled Criminal, Family and Housing Court matters and implemented programs that improved police/community relationships, diverted youth from criminal court and helped adolescents and adults improve their lives.
She began her legal career at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office. As a Felony Trial Attorney, she specialized in the prosecution of domestic violence and child abuse cases.
She is a trained mediator, who has served as Co-Chair and Chair to the Criminal Justice Alternative Dispute Resolution and Restorative Justice Committee of the American Bar Association. She is a recipient of the Meritorious Award by the American Bar Association, the Community Impact Award by the Indo-Caribbean Alliance and the Pioneering Indo-Caribbean Woman Award by the East Indian Diaspora Heritage Committee of New York.
Sagar Chadha is an Associate at The Perecman Firm, one of NYC’s premier personal injury firms. Based in midtown, Mr. Chadha litigates catastrophic injury cases originating from construction accidents, motor vehicle accidents, premises cases, as well as civil rights cases.
Prior to joining The Perecman Firm, he was a Trial Attorney at Subin Associates, a downtown personal injury firm and at Weitz & Luxenberg, a national plaintiff’s firm based in New York City, where he represented victims of asbestos exposure. Mr. Chadha was also an associate at Traub, Lieberman, Straus & Shrewsberry, a large national insurance defense firm based in Westchester County, New York. He has defended over 30 mass tort depositions nationwide, conducted hearings and trials and taken cases to verdict in both Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Mr. Chadha began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Queens County, responsible for prosecuting misdemeanor and felony cases. Mr. Chadha proved himself to be a skilled trial lawyer and conducted numerous hearings and trials. He also defended the appeal of a high- profile murder conviction 2012.
Sagar is a native of the Bellerose/Floral Park neighborhoods of Queens County. He graduated with honors from the University of Michigan and received his J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Manmeet Singh earned his L.L.M. (Master in Laws) degree from Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law in 2010. He started his career as a Staff Attorney for UNITED SIKHS, a United Nations associated civil rights organization.
At UNITED SIKHS he worked on numerous civil rights issues affecting the Sikh Community. Manmeet served as an attorney of record and co-counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union in the case of Iknoor Singh, a freshman at Hofstra University, who was refused enlistment in the Reserve Officer Training Corps ROTC unless he gave up his Sikh articles of faith. A historic and successful lawsuit was filed against the U.S. Army in U.S. District Court for The District of Columbia and Iknoor’s right to be Sikh, and serve his country at the same time was ensured.
Manmeet’s efforts led to the enactment of a new “Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy” for Pike County, Mississippi which became applicable to all county employees. His efforts also resulted in a new policy for the Kalamazoo County Probate Court, Michigan permitting religious headwear and attire in courtrooms.
Manmeet is now in private practice, and is the Managing Director of Law Offices of Manmeet Singh, P.C. He is a General Practitioner and provides legal services in various areas of law. He is based out of Forest Hills, Queens.
Vice-President, External Affairs
Ali Najmi was born and raised in Queens County and has established a criminal defense practice located in Manhattan. He is committed to serving the people of New York and achieving justice for his clients. He has maintained an energetic and dynamic approach that has consistently contributed to his success as a lawyer.
Mr. Najmi began his career legal career in 2009 when he was recruited to join the New York City Council as the Legislative Director to a New York City Council Member. He has helped author legislation protecting civil rights and religious freedom during his time at the City Council.
Ali shifted his focus toward private practice in 2011. Since establishing his practice, he has successfully defended numerous individuals charged with high level felony cases in New York City in both state and federal court.
With a deep interest in social justice and politics, Ali has advocated on issues important to the South Asian and Indo-Caribbean communities in Queens not only as an attorney but also a former candidate for public office.
Ali is a graduate of Oberlin College and received his Juris Doctorate degree from the City University of New York School of Law.
Vice-President, Solo & Small Firm Practice
Amish R. Doshi has been in private practice for over twenty years, specializing in bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, general corporate/business law, residential and commercial real estate transactions, and state and federal commercial litigation. He acts as outside General Counsel to a variety of businesses including medical practices, hotels, restaurants, bars, and construction companies.
Since 2011, Amish has been a solo practitioner, as well as Of Counsel to a boutique Long Island Firm, Magnozzi & Kye, LLP. Prior to that, Mr. Doshi worked at Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelley, LLP and Day Pitney, LLP practicing in Bankruptcy/creditors’ rights and commercial litigation.
Amish is also a Certified Public Accountant and previously worked as an Auditor with the New York State Attorney General’s Office, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. He has served on the Board of Directors of the South Asian Bar Association of North America for the last eight years, has served as an Officer and VP for In-House/Private Sector of the South Asian Bar Association of New York, and has been a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute since 2002.
Mr. Doshi, a resident of Queens County since 1982, has a B.A. from Queens College, City University of New York and a Juris Doctorate degree from New York Law School.
Vice-President, International Practice
Sharon began her legal career as a Court Attorney to Judge Denis J. Butler in New York City. She thereafter joined the law firm, Rivkin Radler in their products liability and toxic torts division where she represented manufacturers in national and international complex toxic and mass tort litigation, including federal class actions, multi-district litigation, and appeals. After leaving Rivkin Radler, she worked for Berkman, Henoch, Peterson and Peddy in Garden City.
Sharon went into business for herself in 2010 when she opened a full-service immigration and nationality law firm and is now based in Manhattan where her primary field of endeavor is in employment-based visa petitions, including H-1B petitions and green cards. Sharon also represents many artists and startups–obtaining extraordinary abilities designations (O-1 visa) for them. A main part of her practice is also comprised of complex family-based immigration cases.
Sharon was born and raised in London, UK, and emigrated with her family to the US at the age of sixteen–moving straight to Queens County. After graduating from State University of New York at Stony Brook with a B.S., she graduated from St. John’s School of Law with a Juris Doctorate degree. In 2003 Sharon also became licensed to practice before the US Patent & Trademark Office as a Patent Attorney.
Ajay D. Chheda
Vice-President, Public Service
Ajay D. Chheda is a Senior Assistant District Attorney in Queens County. He was born in Bombay, India, and grew up primarily in Houston, Texas.
Mr. Chheda received his B.S. degree from Caltech, his M.S. degree from NYU, and his M.B.A. and J.D. degrees from Fordham Business and Law Schools.
Ajay was admitted to the bar of the State of Connecticut in 2006, and the bar of the State of New York in 2008. In 2006, he joined the Office of the Queens County District Attorney under the leadership of the current Queens District Attorney, the Honorable Richard A. Brown, prosecuting misdemeanor matters. Since 2008, when he joined the Narcotics Investigations Bureau, he has been involved in investigating and prosecuting matters involving “guns and drugs”. He has taken numerous cases to verdict and his investigations have resulted in the convictions of hundreds of individuals and the confiscation of numerous amounts of guns and drugs.
Ajay resides in Eastern Queens with his wife and children.