Raj Singh Badhesha makes local and California state history

He will be the first turban (Sikh headdress)-wearing judge in the state of California.

Raj Singh Badhesha /

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the appointment of Raj Singh Badhesha as as a superior court judge in Fresno County earlier this month. He fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Jon N. Kapetan. 

The appointment makes Selma-native Badhesha not only the first Sikh judge in Fresno County but also the first turban (Sikh headdress) wearing judge in the state of California. This is of significance since the most recent U.S. census put the Sikh population in Fresno County at 70,000.

A Democrat, Badhesha most recently served as the chief assistant city attorney in Fresno City Attorney, Andrew Janz's Office, which he joined in 2012.Before that, he was an associate attorney at Baker Manock & Jensen from 2008 to 2012.

In a statement Badhesha thanked the governor for the appointment, stating, "After years of dedicated service to the Fresno community, including invaluable experience in the Fresno City Attorney’s Office and extensive volunteer work, I am honored to be appointed as a Fresno Superior Court Judge."

"My commitment to justice, coupled with my understanding of the legal system and the needs of our community, have prepared me to serve with integrity, fairness, and compassion. I am glad to be able to represent a segment of our community that we don’t often see on the bench, and I appreciate the Governor’s commitment to diversity," Badhesha said.

Janz, expressed confidence in Badhesha's legal expertise stating, "Raj has all the qualities one hopes to find in a judge; he is open-minded, thoughtful, deliberate, well researched, and diplomatic. While his broad legal experience and expertise is going to be a big loss to the City of Fresno, there is not a more fitting individual to serve Fresno County and the State of California with honesty and integrity.”

Badhesha earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California College of Law, San Francisco.