By Solmaz Elmi-Sarabi, National Iranian American Council (NIAC)
On Thursday, May 2, 2013, Susan Amini was appointed to King County Superior Court judge position 20 in Washington State. Ms. Amini is the second Iranian American to serve as a Superior Court judge in the country, and the first of Middle Eastern descent in Washington state history. At the courthouse ceremony, Governor Jay Inslee described Susan Amini as someone who “believes strongly in equal access to justice, regardless of a person’s economic status, education level, or disability,” and said “she has worked tirelessly to help eliminate barriers that exist within our court system. “
Born in Iran, Susan Amini was educated at Catholic schools in Tehran and Paris and received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Tehran University and J.D. degree from University of Maryland School of Law. She began her legal career as a public defender before establishing her own law practice, in 1994, focusing on criminal defense, family law and immigration. Ms. Amini has also served as a King County District Pro Tempore judge since 1994, and currently serves as a King County Bar Association Trustee and is a member of the Washington State Trial Lawyers.
As a judge Susan Amini will be driven by a desire to do more and to expand her diverse experience in understanding both the law and people in all their cultural variations in order to help a greater population. As she has explained, “King County is very diverse these days. It’s not what it was 20 years ago. I’ve worked with over 30 different nationalities. It’s important for a judge to know what mix the community that is going to come before the court is and what differences there are, culturally and traditionally.”
Susan Amini is also considered an expert in the rights of individuals with disabilities. Part of her expertise comes from raising a child with a disability. Her son, Cyrus Habib, lost his eye sight in early childhood to a rare eye cancer and has been fully blind since age 8. However, Ms. Amini was determined to ensure that her son would receive the same treatment as other children, and she and Cyrus would count steps of the jungle gym at the playground to make sure he knew each piece of equipment by heart so he could play as other kids could. Her son eventually went on to Columbia University - graduated Summa Cum Laude - Oxford University, and Yale Law School, where he served as Editor of the Yale Law Journal, and in 2012, was elected to represent Washington’s 48th Legislative District. Today, Cyrus Habib is the first Iranian American elected to State office in the U.S. and the highest ranking Iranian American in political office.
Susan Amini’s term as King County Superior Court judge begins on May 13, 2013.
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