The Justice Wire
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The Justice Wire

Profiles in Justice: Assistant District Attorney Joshua Parambath

Assistant District Attorney (ADA) Joshua Parambath of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s (DAO) Charging Unit knew from a young age that he wanted to help people. Growing up with immigrant parents — his mother came from India to the greater Philadelphia area during her elementary school years, and his father arrived some years later, in his 20s — he was acutely aware of how difficult it was for immigrants to access justice through state systems.

“Immigrant communities, and people from different parts of the world, sometimes have a mistrust of government and police — there’s a lot of corruption. There’s also a natural language barrier to dealing with issues, and so because of that, a lot of times crimes get dealt with in the community itself rather than them deciding to report it [to authorities].”

As a child, Parambathhe would sometimes sit on the steps in the family’s home and listen in on conversations his father, a Syrian Orthodox priest, would have with congregants who came to him seeking help with various problems. He wondered why people wouldn’t go to the authorities for assistance. But as he got older, he began to understand why.

“I realized it was because there was a lack of representation or anyone they felt comfortable going to, someone with similar features or background, someone they could feel was a liaison. Because of that I knew I wanted to be part of some form of government.”

It was ultimately his mother’s successful career as an attorney that led him to pursue a career in criminal law. He attended the George Washington University Law School. While waiting for bar exam results after attending the George Washington University Law School, Parambathhe started as a Certified Legal Intern at the DAO in 2016, followed by the customary stints in the Municipal Court and Juvenile units. He eventually made his way to handling major felony trial cases before his current role as an overnight charger.

There are rewarding aspects to his work as a prosecutor, he says. “Essentially, when you’re interacting with anyone involved in the criminal justice system — whether it’s a defendant or victim — it all stems from a very impactful moment in that person’s life, something that has had vibrations throughout other aspects of their life,” ADA Parambath explains. “Reliving whatever experience it is, having to confront the other individual. Knowing that you’re able to help people in those situations, you know, provide them a level of comfort.”

Perhaps the most challenging part of his job, ADA Parambathhe adds, is “the necessary ability to empathize and understand the person’s situation is a double-edged sword. You need to do it every time, but it definitely wears on you. You’re dealing with the worst day or moment in this person’s life. And you have to do that 50 or 60 times a day with different people and you have to hit the reset every single time.”

While most of the day-to-day work he performs since joining the DAO’s Charging Unit in 2019 hasn’t changed too much, one aspect that has had an impact is the office’s COVID-19 new bail policy, which was implemented to prevent community spread among inmates and correctional facility staff of the virus by safely reducing the local jail population.

“In terms of recommendations for bail, we obviously do want to keep people out of custody unless there’s a significant threat to society or a particular victim in a case,.” he says.

As a prosecutor, he hopes to continue serving communities across the city by giving those who otherwise lack access to the justice system a voice in the process. He also strives for a work/life balance by finding ways to relieve job stressors such as curating a lifestyle blog and physical exercise. He recently completed the “One Punch Man” fitness program, which requires 100 push-ups, sit-ups, and squats as well as a 10km run every day for three years.

“These activities provide an outlet for me and bring balance to my life as a public servant.”

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Philadelphia DAO

Philadelphia DAO

The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office is committed to seeking fair and equal justice for 1.5 million residents, while upholding Constitutional rights.