Justin S. Anand, a former federal prosecutor in Atlanta, Georgia, has joined the distinguished lineup of Indian Americans now serving on the federal bench. He was named last year as U.S. magistrate judge for the Northern District of Georgia.
Here to attend the North American South Asian Bar Association annual conference (see separate story), Anand told India-West on the sidelines of the conference, “I believe I’m the first (Indian American) federal judge in the ‘Deep South,’ as long as Kentucky is not (considered) part of the Deep South.”
(Amul R. Thapar became the first Indian American named to the federal bench when he was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky by President George Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate Dec. 13, 2007).
Anand, who lives in Atlanta with his wife, was named to the bench in February 2012 when he was just 40 years of age and began hearing cases in June of that year.
Magistrate judges, who assist U.S. district court judges with their duties, are appointed by a majority vote of the federal district judges of their district. If named to full-time posts, they serve eight-year terms and may be reappointed.
Anand said that his district has a population of between six and seven million people. His duties include search warrants and surveillance applications, arraignments, some criminal cases, employment and civil rights hearings.
“In fact, we can do any case, if the parties consent,” he added.
According to an article a few years ago in the Fulton County Daily Report on Georgia lawyers under 40 to watch, Anand was trapped underground in a subway train when the World Trade Center twin towers collapsed Sept. 11, 2001.
At the time, he was an associate at the Wall Street firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and worked just a few blocks from the World Trade Center.
Anand and other passengers fled backward through the derailed train and away from the station to get more air and were in the last car when New York firefighters rescued them.
A graduate of Swarthmore College, Anand worked in Washington, D.C., for two years as a policy analyst for a private consulting firm before enrolling at the Harvard Law School.
At Harvard, he worked on pro bono criminal defense cases in a clinic run by Professor Charles Ogletree and clerked in New York for U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who later presided in the Rajat Gupta insider trading case.
At Cleary Gottlieb, Anand did international corporate work for underdeveloped countries, including the Republic of Indonesia, the Daily Report said.
Anand told India-West he moved to Atlanta, where his wife’s family is from, and eventually become deputy chief of the economic crime and cybercrime unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Georgia’s Northern District in Atlanta.
His first big case, the Daily Journal said, was the investigation of former Fulton County Sheriff Jackie Barrett. Federal prosecutors eventually declined to prosecute Barrett, whom Gov. Sonny Perdue suspended amid an investigation into her unauthorized investment of $7.2 million in escrow funds. Barrett’s investment adviser, Byron Rainner, lost more than $2 million of the funds in high-risk investments. Working with a former federal prosecutor, Anand eventually secured guilty pleas from Rainner and Barrett's former chief deputy, Caudell Jones.
Anand continued to pursue high-profile fraud cases until his appointment to the bench.