Shalina Kumar sworn in as U.S. District Court judge

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Shalina Kumar on Thursday officially became the newest U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of Michigan, officials announced.

The former Oakland County Circuit Court chief judge was sworn in by U.S. District Chief Judge Denise Page Hood at the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse in Detroit. She is the first person of South Asian descent to be nominated for a federal judgeship in Michigan.

“We are so happy to have you,” Hood told Kumar before administering the oath of office. “I know you will be great.”

Kumar was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Friday. President Joe Biden signed her commission on Tuesday.

Oakland County Circuit Court Chief Judge Shalina Kumar appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee  in October for her nomination to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

“I am deeply, deeply humbled by the faith and trust the president and senators have placed in me for this very important role and I am so honored to be joining this amazing bench," she said in a statement. “I look forward to this next chapter of my work as a public servant and I pledge that everyone in my court will treated with the respect and dignity they deserve."

Biden in June tapped Kumar, who has been unanimously rated "well qualified" by the American Bar Association, to fill a vacancy.

Kumar replaces U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts, who moved from active to senior status in February.

The Birmingham resident will be based at the U.S. Courthouse in Flint, one of five federal courthouses in the Eastern District, which covers Michigan's eastern side from the Ohio border to the Mackinac Bridge, according to the court.

She was appointed to the Oakland County Circuit Court, the second-largest trial court in Michigan, which has 20 judges, 400-plus employees and a $72 million annual budget, by then-Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm in August 2007.

Elected to six-year terms in 2008, 2014 and 2020, Kumar handled civil and criminal matters and presided over nearly 10,550 cases, including 99 jury or bench trials that went to verdict or judgment.

The jurist also served as presiding judge of the Adult Treatment Court for five years, which aims to treat and divert defendants from jail.

The Michigan Supreme Court appointed her chief judge in 2018 after she had served as chief judge pro tempore.

Shalina Kumar

She was born in Royal Oak and raised in Bloomfield Hills. Her father, from India, is a physician and Kumar's mother, of Detroit, was a homemaker, officials said.

After graduating from Andover High School, she attended the University of Michigan and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with distinction in 1993.

Kumar received her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 1996, officials said.

She worked as a substitute teacher for the Bloomfield Hills School District and was elected to the Sylvan Lake City Council.

Obtaining her law license in 1997, Kumar worked as an associate attorney at four Oakland County law firms over the next decade, primarily handling personal injury litigation.