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Surya Saxena

2019 Diversity & Inclusion: Surya Saxena

Assistant United States Attorney Surya Saxena contributed to a continuing legal education program earlier this year in Duluth that focused on how implicit biases may cause racial inequities in federal criminal cases.

Saxena found it a bit unnerving to present evidence suggesting that judges’ implicit biases contribute to racial inequities in criminal sentencing, with several federal judges looking on in the room. Yet he credits the federal bench for their commitment to eliminate racial inequities in their detention and sentencing determinations and the federal bar for focusing on mitigating implicit biases.

Saxena also said countless studies show that diverse organizations make more effective decisions. That’s why he focuses on recruiting lawyers of color.

He admits that working on diversity can be frustrating.

“At times, I need to take a break from it because it’s so personal and draining,” he said. “But it’s also so important.”

The frustration comes from struggling to convince “well-intentioned people to realize that their good intentions are not enough to make progress with diversity and inclusion efforts. Diversity and inclusion has to be a priority that we work on just as hard as we work on litigating cases.”

And things are improving. Saxena co-chaired a committee of the U.S. attorney’s office aimed at improving recruiting and hiring practices.

In addition to being an avid fan of Liverpool Football Club, in his free time the attorney enjoys biking, reading, and spending time with his wife, Hennepin County District Court Judge Angela Willms, and their two daughters.

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