Profile: Grace Pandithurai, Ellis County’s incoming 443rd Judge

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Judge Grace Pandithurai Photo courtesy Ellis County

ELLIS COUNTY – Grace Pandithurai, 43, moved to Ellis County in 1988 with her family.

Her bio reads that her family was the first Indian family to move to Midlothian, firmly based on the fact that her father wanted the family to be raised in a community with strong Christian and conservative beliefs.

It was in 2011 when she began her legal career as a prosecutor in Wichita Falls, Texas. This was after she attended Midlothian schools until her junior year. Then, she moved to Dallas to attend the Townview Law Magnet School, where she graduated as a valedictorian.

Pandithurai then completed her undergraduate degree at Southern Methodist University, her graduate degree at Dallas Baptist University, and her Juris Doctorate at Regent University.

While in Wichita Falls, she said, “I worked on cases where children were abused, and the court had to decide where they should live. Soon after, I became a felony prosecutor and specialized in criminal child abuse cases.”

In 2014, she moved home to Ellis County and was in private practice for a few months before she joined the Ellis County and District Attorney’s Office staff.

She is currently the Chief Felony Prosecutor in Ellis County, prosecuting different types of crimes, from drug possession or delivery to capital murders, before a jury. She has now spent 13 years as a child abuse prosecutor, and in 2023, she took Ellis County’s first trafficking of persons case to trial and obtained a life sentence.

The new Judge will be sworn in on January 1, 2025, taking Judge Cindy Ermatinger’s seat (who did not run for re-election), and she will be presiding over the only District Court in Ellis County that hears felony criminal cases.

Pandithurai will also continue the tradition of being the only female Judge in Ellis County, as Ermatinger was during her time on the bench.

Pandithurai said she decided to run for judge because she knew at an early age that was her calling.

“But at that time, I did not really understand the weight of the calling,” she added. “Working in a courtroom, I learned that Judges are pivotal in helping families in the midst of trauma. When Judge Ermatinger decided to retire, I was in the middle of prosecuting Ellis County’s first human trafficking case that was tried before a jury. I knew we needed someone with experience to help families efficiently and effectively, so I decided to run in this election cycle.”

She also added, “Judge Ermatinger created an atmosphere of respect for every person who walked into the courtroom. I will continue that tradition. I also want to ensure that each court setting has a purpose of moving the case towards resolution. Many citizens will have to take time off from work to sit in a courtroom as a case proceeds. Those moments should not be a waste of time.”

As for her win, she explained she committed at the beginning of the campaign to run on her strengths without negatively campaigning or tearing apart the personal attributes of her opponents.

“We don’t see that in many campaigns, and I believe it won many votes,” she added. “My type of experience also mattered to voters. I believe my ethics, character, faith, and experience will all help support the calling of Judgeship. As a prosecutor, we are charged to seek Justice. Not to seek life or maximum sentences for every case. I will bring that balance to the bench.”

During 9/11, Pandithurai also worked for Senator Chuck Grassley and the Senate Finance Committee.

She said, “That experience cemented the foundation for my career in public service.”

Her honors and memberships include Regent University Alumna of the Year (2013), Wichita Falls Top 20 Under 40 Leaders (2013), Ellis County 40 under 40 (2019), Ellis County and District Attorney’s Office Attorney of the Year (2020), TDCAA Training Committee (2021-2023), Ellis County SART Presiding Officer, The Salvation Army of Ellis County Advisory Board Member, and Inspire School Programs Board Member.

“I give God all the glory for the position, and I am ready to serve my community in this new role,” she concluded. “Since November, I’ve walked over 5,000 homes across the county, and have had the privilege to visit new places in Ellis County. This journey has only made me prouder of our home. I’m honored and humbled to have earned the County’s trust.”

 

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