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Meet Janki Sharma: The Indian American Magistrate Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit in South Dakota

Meet Janki Sharma: The Indian American Magistrate Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit in South Dakota

  • Born and raised in India, she came to the U.S. to pursue higher education.

Indian American Janki Sharma was appointed last month as the new full-time magistrate judge for the Seventh Judicial Circuit in Pennington County in South Dakota. In her new role, Sharma conducts preliminary hearings for all criminal prosecutions, holds trials for criminal demeanors, and presides on small claims proceedings and trials of civil debt actions, according to a press release.

In South Dakota, magistrate courts assist the circuit courts in disposing of misdemeanor criminal cases and minor civil actions. According to the state’s Unified Judicial System, these courts have limited jurisdiction but make the judicial system more accessible to the public by providing a means of direct court contact for the average citizen.

The India-born Sharma told India Today that she was honored to serve the people of the Seventh Judicial Circuit and is grateful for the judicial appointment. “A judge is, first a foremost, a public servant, and public service is where my heart lies.”

Sharma has worked at the Pennington County Public Defender’s Office since 2017, according to the release. She moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, where she earned two degrees: a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Arts in Management from Doane University.

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Before her work in Pennington County, she earned her law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law and served as a term law clerk for Judge Thomas Thalken in the United States District Court of Nebraska. 

SheThePeople reported that Sharma, who was born into a family of priests, took the judicial oath of office on the Ramayana.

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