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A Kerala School Dropout Who Rolled Beedis is now a United States Judge

Surendran K. Pattel was born in the Kerala town of Kasaragod. He dropped out of school and took low-wage jobs to make ends meet. He dropped out of school after the 10th grade because his family couldn’t afford for him to continue. He claimed that he rolled beedis as a daily wager for about a year, which changed his outlook on life. “We had to faced a great financial problems all along because I came from a very impoverished household.” When I was in class 9, I started working as a beedi roller and also did other manual labour. After finishing SSLC, I worked as a beedi worker full-time. “But that one-year gap changed my outlook on the future, and I enrolled in the government college in Eleritattu for a pre-degree course the following year,” Pattel stated.

His village friend assisted him with the financial aspects of his schooling, including his legal degree. While studying, he also worked as a housekeeper at a nearby hotel. He stated that after completing his LLB, the practise he gained in India helped him survive in the United States. Even in the United States, he continued, life was difficult. He also mentioned that when he stood for this job, even his party did not feel he could win. He also recalled that comments were made about his accent and disparaging ads.

He enrolled in the LLM programme at the University of Houston Law Center, completed it in the fall of 2011, and began practising in fields such as family law, civil and commercial litigation, real estate, criminal defence, and so on. He won the nomination by running against a sitting judge in the Democratic primary, and he defeated the Republican nominee in the 240th Judicial District race in November. Pattel ran for office with the motto “Firm on Law, Fair on Justice,” emphasising the topic of equal access to justice. He stated that he was subjected to various negative campaign tactics from opponents, including attacks on his accent, place of birth, and so on.

“We chose not to respond to the negative campaign by going directly to the public with our campaign slogans and pledges. However, during my interactions with the media and people, I stated that as a county that is one of the most diverse in the country, it is natural to have diversity in accents, appearances, and cultural differences among people, and how can one be a good judge if you cannot tolerate another person’s accent? He’d stated He took the oath by placing his hand on the Bhagavad Gita and the US Constitution, which were carried by the couple’s daughters, Anagha and Sandra. Pattel has also served as president of the Malayalee Association of Greater Houston, which has 2,500 members.



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