US Senate confirms first-ever South Asian judge for Michigan with Judge Shalina Kumar


An Indian American judge has been confirmed by the United States Senate to become the chief judge to the federal bench of Oakland County Circuit Court, on Friday, December 17.

Judge Shalina Kumar received 44 to 25 votes from Senators to bet her approval to serve as the US District Court judge for the Eastern District of Michigan. With this appointment, Judge Kumar becomes the first federal judge of South Asian descent in Michigan.

President Joe Biden named Kumar in June in his fifth round of judicial nominees.

Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow are among those who voted yes, along with 39 other Democrat senators, Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, and independent Angus King of Maine. Of the 31 senators who didn’t vote, seven are Democrats, 23 are Republicans and one is an Independent.

Along with Kumar, President Biden also nominated Judge Jane Beckering to serve as the U.S. District Court judge for the Western District of Michigan.

“Judge Kumar and Judge Beckering are two outstanding and highly qualified women. Judge Kumar is a respected Chief Judge of the Oakland County Sixth Circuit Court, and I know she will continue her excellent work as a federal judge. Judge Beckering is a highly qualified judge on the Michigan Court of Appeals and has extensive experience serving in Michigan. Their confirmation is great news for Michigan,” Senator Debbie Stabenow said.

Kumar and Beckering were part of a slate of 22 nominations that Senate Democrats pushed to get through the chamber Friday that also included other judgeships, ambassador nominations and posts with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Kumar was appointed to the county’s circuit court in 2007 to fill the vacancy created when Judge Gene Schnelz retired. She was elected to the court in 2008 and re-elected in 2014 and 2020.

She was appointed as chief judge in Oakland County Circuit Court in 2018.

“Judge Kumar is an accomplished jurist whose appointment breaks barriers as the first Michigander of South Asian descent to serve on the federal bench in our state. Judge Beckering is highly qualified and has extensive experience serving on the Michigan Court of Appeals and in private practice,” said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. “I know both women will serve the people of Michigan and our nation well.”

Throughout her years on the bench, Kumar has been a presiding judge for the Adult Treatment Court, chair of the Oakland County Criminal Assignment Committee, bench liaison to the Oakland County Bar Association Circuit Court Committee, member of Michigan State Bar Professionalism Committee and member of the Executive Committee of the Michigan Judges’ Association.

Prior to her judgeship, she was in private practice as a civil litigator.

Kumar is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, class of 1996, and University of Michigan, class of 1993.