Aug. 4, 2021 - Judge Ravi K. Sandill of Houston’s 127th District Court was the recipient of the Distinguished Jurist Award from the African American Lawyers section of the State Bar of Texas. The 2001 alumnus of the University of Houston Law Center described the recent recognitions as a culmination of his longtime efforts “to build equity and understanding in the legal profession.”
“I’ve been blessed,” Sandill said.
After receiving the Distinguished Jurist Award in June, Sandill was honored as one of the Houston Bar Association’s Diversity Award winners and as a recipient of the President’s Award. Sandill was also recently presented the Justice David Wellington Chew Award by the Asian Pacific Interest Section of the State Bar of Texas and has been nominated as the Trailblazer of the Year by the Texas Minority Counsel Program.
Throughout his 12 years of service on the 127th District Court, Sandill, the first District Court Judge of South Asian descent to be elected in Texas, said he’s “been very focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
In 2018, Sandill became the first judge in the country to issue a standing order granting parental leave to counsel following the birth or adoption of a child. And beginning September 1, anyone seeking appointment in the 127th District Court will be required to have completed at least six hours of bias/mindfulness training in the past four years, Sandill said.
Sandill’s emphasis on promoting implicit bias education began when a colleague drew attention to his habit of referring to male attorneys in his court as “counsel” and female attorneys as “ma’am.” Given Sandill’s upbringing in a military family, he said such language had become almost second nature. But when the colleague shared that it made female attorneys appearing in his court feel less than compared to the male attorneys, Sandill said he, “took time to reflect on that.”
“Sometimes we don’t treat people like we should, or we make assumptions that we have no place to make,” he said. “I just decided, if I’m needing to take pause, it’s likely a lot of folks in a position of power and authority like me would benefit from the same sort of awareness training.”
In light of Sandill’s recent accolades and years of service, he said he’s most proud of his work to transform the judgeship into “a leadership position in the community.”
Sandill acknowledged that the subject of implicit bias is “a political and divided topic in our state and country,” but at the end of the day, he said he doesn’t see a downside in taking a public position in this arena.
“Becoming more aware, I don't think that makes me advocate for one community over the other,” he said. “My job is not to make you a Republican or a Democrat, or a progressive or a conservative. What I’m trying to do is just make you a better human. I want you to be a better human because I want a better community so our children have a better place to live. I don’t think that’s divisive.”
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