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American 'Batak' takes office as New Orleans judge

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Wed, September 23, 2020  /  09:31 am
American 'Batak' takes office as New Orleans judge

Marissa Hutabarat, a woman of Batak descent who has been elected a judge in the United States. (Courtesy of/VoA Indonesia)

Marissa Hutabarat, a United States citizen of Indonesian descent, has taken office as a judge at the First City Court in New Orleans, Louisiana, after winning the local vote.

“It's a dream come true. This is what I've been wanting to do since I entered law school,” Marissa said in an interview with VOA Indonesia.

Marissa first studied psychology at the DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. Afterward, she went to the Loyola University School of Law in the same city.

“My desire is always to serve the community, to the best of my ability,” she said, proudly.

Prior to her running as a judge, she served as an associate attorney at Glago Williams, LLS, focusing on traffic incidents, medical malpractice and insurance disputes.

Read also: Indonesia’s first Academy Awards voting member Amelia Hapsari to champion Southeast Asian documentariesl

Marissa was supported by the Democratic Party in her run for election as a judge. Campaigning under the tagline "People’s Judge", she won 60 percent of the vote at the local election on Aug. 15.

Marissa’s electoral victory has exposed her to the proud Indonesian diaspora, especially Batak people who share her family name, Hutabarat. She said Indonesian people, even those she did not know, had showered her with congratulations all over social media.

“All of this makes me even prouder of being an Indonesian,” she said, smiling.


Thank you so much for placing your trust and confidence in me. I am committed to being the people’s Judge and will hear people from all walks of life who come before the court with compassion, dignity, and respect. I will work tirelessly to serve you well and make you proud. Thank you for this honor. I thank God for His continuous blessings including the opportunity to live in this great city and be able to serve it in this capacity, my family for their love and for instilling in me the values that have shaped me and prepared me to serve, my dedicated and hardworking team that is amazing beyond words, the love, support, and votes from all my family, friends, and our community that is truly humbling, and the love of my life who helped me make my dream to come true. From the bottom of my heart and deep at my core, thank you for this great honor. I am ready to serve you.

A post shared by Marissa Hutabarat For Judge (@marissaforjudge) on

Marissa was born to a Batak father and a Chinese Thai mother. She was born and raised in the United States and has never been to Indonesia. However, she still connects with her Indonesian roots through her Opung (Bataknese for grandmother), who taught her a little bit of the Batak language.

“I'm a little embarrassed that I've never learned the Indonesian language, but I will make that happen,” she promised. (gis/kes)

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