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Friday, November 28, 2014

Lobo Spotlight: Dawinder Sidhu

Law professor named Supreme Court fellow

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Dawinder Sidhu

Maryland native Dawinder Sidhu said he has spent most of his life close to the Atlantic Ocean.

So after he snagged a job at UNM Law School three years ago, Sidhu decided to stay in sunny Albuquerque for a change.

“The pace of life in Albuquerque is more reasonable and healthy compared to the East Coast,” he said. “I have lived and worked in Washington, D.C. and in Boston, and there’s just a pace that’s far more appealing in Albuquerque. The day-to-day quality of life is more pleasant than in other places where I’ve lived.”

Dave, 34, will have to endure the East Coast’s rush once again, as the UNM assistant professor has been selected as one of four fellows who will work with Supreme Court this year.

Still, Sidhu is grateful for the opportunity.

“It’s a great honor,” he said. “My mother and father came to the United States with eight dollars in their pockets. My family came here really to provide a better quality of life for myself. To be able to work with the Supreme Court and with the federal law system is quite meaningful to me.”

Sidhu will start a yearlong research project for the United States Sentencing Commission on Sept. 9. He will stay at Capitol Hill until his return to the University in August 2014.

However, Sidhu still hasn’t received his research assignment yet.
“The current fellow, for example, is working on federal sentencing guidelines for individuals convicted for creating child pornography,” he said. “That was a major issue that required his expertise and services. I haven’t been told as of yet what my assignments would be.”

Before teaching at the law school, Sidhu obtained his bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania in 2000. He then got a master’s degree in government from Johns Hopkins University, and a J.D. from George Washington University in 2004.

Sidhu said he is “overwhelmed at how well things have gone” at UNM, and he credits his students for it.

“They’re probably one of the major reasons why I found my stay at UNM to be successful,” he said.

Only one other UNM graduate has worked with the Supreme Court as a fellow in the past, Sidhu said. So he said that during his stay, he aims to establish a tighter connection between the court and the law school.

“I’m an ambassador of the law school and of the University as a whole,” he said. “We’ve had a very limited connection to the Supreme Court.”

Sidhu said he expects to “be a better teacher, scholar and servant to the community” when he comes back from the fellowship. But he said he would miss the Albuquerque scenery.

In the meantime, Sidhu is looking forward to sharing with the University community his experiences during his recent visit to Guantanamo Bay. He is set to return to Albuquerque by the end of July from Maryland.

“I spent one week this summer at Guantanamo,” he said. “I’m very excited to go back to Albuquerque to share to students and faculty what Guantanamo is really like and to dispel any myths.”