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2021 Has Been Nothing Less Than Phenomenal in Learning Who I am and What I am Capable Of

2021 Has Been Nothing Less Than Phenomenal in Learning Who I am and What I am Capable Of

  • I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my staff, and all those who have played a part in making this year what it was.

I was asked to reflect on my life in 2021 and as I look back I can honestly say I am truly blessed and thankful. Summarizing seemed difficult. I decided to look at my camera roll and talk about things that stood out to me by the month. 

On January 1st, I had the opportunity to be part of the swearing-in ceremony of the new elected officials in my county.  I was able to establish a specialty court and named it, The Juvenile Intervention and Mental Health Court (JIMHS), for kids in the system who suffer from mental illness.  We wanted to ensure that they are given the guidance and help that they need to successfully complete probation and create a future for themselves. Life hasn’t always been easy for these kids. They are offered various services, including therapy, tutoring, drivers ed courses, job acquisition, or other targeted help that is needed in their life.  This program is provided through a grant and we have about 15 kids per month in the program. 

I also received my first shot of Covid vaccine. We celebrated my oldest daughter ‘s 16th birthday in February and got my second shot of the Moderna vaccine.  My younger two kids saw snow for the very first time in their lives when Texas faced a very severe winter storm. Unfortunately, our infrastructure could not handle this unexpected event. Most people had no power for several days. As Texans tend to do, people stepped up to help those who are less fortunate by providing hot meals and necessities for those who were suffering.  

March brought about something that was much needed since Covid had started. I was able to visit my dentist for the very first time and had a teeth cleaning! I also had our first visitors at my home since Covid began. My cousin from Dallas and her family came and stayed with us over the weekend since all of the adults were now fully vaccinated. We also had more visitors from my mom’s side of the family from around the country towards the end of the month.  

March capped off with my husband and I taking a much-needed vacation to Costa Rica.  We were careful and cautious.  The vacation turned out to be everything that was needed for my soul.  We zip lined in the rain forest and jet skied for the very first time.  I even had an unintentional dip in the Pacific Ocean.  April brought about Ramadan celebrations that has been put on hold the previous year with my Muslim brothers and sisters in Fort Bend County. In May, I partook in the unity rally in front of the Fort Bend Justice Center addressing AAPI hate that many faced since the start of the Covid pandemic. In June, I celebrated my 45th birthday, participated in the Juneteenth Parade, commemorating when slaves in Texas were finally told that they were free. We wrapped up the month with my kick off for reelection for Judge of County Court at Law 3. Somewhere in June, I also found out that my Dad’s cancer from over 20 years ago had returned. My father had cancer of the prostate. We thought that they got everything out, but it had jumped from his prostate to his hip bone. It was very difficult to hear and deal with because my parents really are my backbone.  I am able to do the things I need to because I know they are there for my kids.  They pick up the kids and drop off the kids and watch them when I can’t.  In July, we finally had a pool in our backyard.  This pool was over a year in the making. After losing quite a substantial amount of money to a pool contractor, who improperly did the work, added high levels of stress due to the City’s code violations because of his subpar work and ghosting us, we were able to find someone who finally finished the pool.  The joy on my kids’ faces made it all worthwhile.  We also went on a family trip together along with my parents and brother to Florida. I realized that as much as my husband’s side of the family and I crammed things in to our vacations that are not possible with the kids or my parents. Things needed to be at a slower pace, which I was not used to. 

I was also able to host the girls from The Kitchen to The Courthouse Program in my Court.  This mentorship program was aimed at girls in high school. We wanted to introduce them to females from various sectors, who have succeeded and broken the glass ceiling. I realize that even in high-end restaurants, the chefs were mostly males and the idea of the program came to me. It was all done through zoom due to Covid.  We had doctors, engineers, politicians, lawyers, chefs, and CEOs speak to these young girls and give them guidance and help and share their stories of success and what prompted them to go for it when they were facing obstacles and struggles.

In August, I sadly bid adieu to my four interns. As the first Asian American on the bench in Fort Bend County, I was privileged to offer internships to four young adults giving them an opportunity to learn about the court system. While this was not done intentionally, they were all of Asian American heritage. For a time, I was also several privileged to have Assistant District Attorneys in Fort Bend who were Indian.  Where else in America will you have an Indian descent Judge, with two Indian DA’s were as well?

My 16yr old also totaled her car and escaped with minor bruises and scratches.  In September, we were back in the groove of things and Fort Bend County celebrated with ou Annual County Fair. I was one of the judges for the Brisket Judging competition at the fair. For those of you who may not know or tasted brisket, you’re missing out. 

I had a juvenile certification hearing to determine whether a child who had several felony allegations should be tried as an adult.  We also celebrated our youngest child’s fifth birthday.  

October was chock-full of events. When the kids had a few days off, we went to see the balloon festival in Albuquerque New Mexico. I’m not usually a fan of road trips but our family set out in our minivan across Texas to New Mexico making stops at Fort Stockton, Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands National Park, and finally at the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.  I also presented at the Juvenile Justice Conference, with a colleague. Most importantly, I had my first jury trial since the pandemic started. We wrapped up the month trick-or-treating with the kids around our Neighborhood.  

November was one of those ones that never seemed to end.  My campaign manager and I flew to Washington DC and met some notable Indian elected officials and influential figures around the country. I also had another jury trial, spoke at several events, had several fundraisers, judged a car show, attended my cousin’s betrothal ceremony, made a pretty delicious thanksgiving meal. We excitedly got our 5 and 6yr olds vaccinated.  

My biggest regret was that I did not get to meet Jill Biden and the US Surgeon General, Vice Admiral, Vivek Murthy. It just so happened we were getting the kids vaccinated on the same day that they were visiting at Texas Children’s Hospital. We were in the front row waiting to see them, but my middle child had a stomach bug and kept throwing up so, we had to take her home.  

See Also

In December, I intended to go to India but due to the hefty ticket prices and unavailability of tickets, the kids and I were not able to go. Only my husband was able to make the trip this year. I did try my very first juvenile murder trial this month. Also, December 13, was a much-anticipated date in my political career as an Incumbent. It was the deadline for a primary challenge if there was to be one.  Thankfully, all of the talk of having an opponent were just rumors and I will not have a Primary opponent in March, however I will be facing a challenger in the General Election next November. 

Sadly, I also tested positive for the very first time since the pandemic started almost two years ago. Thankfully, I am vaccinated and had my booster. Other than the general tiredness and cold symptoms, it has relatively been mild. So, I spent Christmas at home quarantined with the kids. I was lucky enough to have my parents drop off some traditional Keralite dishes including appam and curry. 

When I look back at my year, I’m thankful for my family, my friends, my staff, and all those who have played a part in making this year what it was. I’m thankful for the good and the bad because it taught me perseverance and fortitude. Life is about continuous growth and this year, has been nothing less than phenomenal in learning who and I am and what I am capable of including settling into, who I am as a Judge.  

(Top photo, Judge Juli A. Mathew at a Christmas Hope Ball in Houston on Dec. 11.)

The Honorable Judge Juli A. Mathew was elected to County Court at Law 3 in Fort Bend County, Texas, in 2018 after having been Associate Municipal Judge in Arcola, TX and a practicing attorney for 15 years in Fort Bend and surrounding counties including Harris, Montgomery, Galveston and Brazoria. She is a proud immigrant from Kerala, India, and is the first Asian American woman to be elected in Fort Bend County and the first Indian American Women elected to the bench in the United States. She grew up in Philadelphia and attended Penn State University before attending Delaware Law School for her Juris Doctorate. 

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