September 10, 2021
Vibhav Mittal, of Yorba Linda, California, became the first Judge of South Asian descent on the Superior Court of California, County of Orange, after being sworn in on Friday morning by Assistant Presiding Judge Maria Hernandez.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the appointment of Judge Mittal on September 3, 2021. Prior to his appointment, Judge Mittal was an Assistant United States Attorney, Deputy Chief, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, in the Santa Ana Branch. During his ten-year tenure as a federal prosecutor, Judge Mittal tried 13 criminal trials to verdict, including a groundbreaking public-corruption matter where a state court clerk took over $400,000 in bribes to resolve over 1,000 cases pending in traffic court, a $24 million Ponzi scheme fraud case, and other drug-trafficking and gun-related cases. Judge Mittal also supervised six prosecutors, argued numerous cases before the Ninth Circuit of Court of Appeals, and served as an instructor for trial advocacy and member of the Office’s hiring and diversity committees. The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service have recognized his work as a prosecutor. Prior to serving in the Department of Justice, Judge Mittal was a law clerk for the Honorable Amul Thapar, the first U.S. federal judge of South Asian descent, and an associate at Quinn Emmanuel. Judge Mittal received his law degree from New York University and his undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and computer science and political science from the University of California, Berkeley.
Judge Mittal has also been an active member of the community. Since 2014, he has been the lead attorney coach for Segerstrom High School’s mock trial team, educating dozens of high school students in Santa Ana on criminal law and courtroom advocacy. He has also been a lecturer for the University of California, Irvine School of Law, encouraging and mentoring law students to pursue careers in the public interest.
As the first native-born American in his family and the son of Indian immigrants, Judge Mittal has also dedicated efforts to serving the Asian American Pacific Islander community. He was a board member for the South Asian Bar Association of California and its public interest foundation—an organization aimed at supporting nonprofit organizations serving the South Asian community.
Marize Alphonso and Rohit D. Nath, co-Presidents of the South Asian Bar Association of Southern California, praised the appointment, “We are thrilled about Judge Mittal’s appointment to the Orange County bench, an appointment that reflects the significant South Asian population in the region. Judge Mittal has dedicated his career to public service, and he has also been an integral part of the South Asian legal community. The Governor could not have found a better pick to blaze the trail for South Asians in Orange County.”