To get to know Vik, you have to first know where he came from. Vik is the eldest son of Sarbjit and Ravinder Vilkhu, two Indian immigrants to the United States who came to our country hoping that their children could have a better life. They arrived in this country on a one-way ticket to New York City hoping their new home in America would be a safe and welcoming one. Sporting a turban and beard, as is Sikh custom, Vik’s father faced discrimination and bigotry. The family held fast to their traditions. His parents navigated America alone, worked grueling hours, and learned about each other and their new home one day at a time.
Vik was born and raised in upstate-New York, taught by his parents to believe that through education, hard-work, honesty, and selfless service he could make his family proud and be a success. Vik speaks Hindi and English and was often the bridge between two worlds for his family and the larger American world outside his home. He understands what it feels to be treated like an “other” and to be the only person that looks like you in the room.
He understands what it feels to be treated like an “other” and to be the only person that looks like you in the room.
Vik attended Emory University where he was a double major in Religion and Anthropology. After graduating he worked for the American Civil Liberties Union creating a national hotline for victims of racial profiling and hate crimes following the devastating attacks of 9/11. There he interacted with grass roots organizations that sought to protect men and women that because of their articles of faith or skin color were subjected to vicious hate, attacks and discrimination. Standing up for those who needed help became a passion and one of the many reasons Vik became a Democrat.
Vik subsequently attended law school at Case Western Reserve University where he received numerous awards and distinctions for his classroom and extracurricular activities. In addition to graduating first in his class in a number of subject areas, the University awarded Vik the William Wallace Award as the class’s finest trial advocate. In addition, Vik was inducted into the Order of Barristers, a national honorary organization for trial and appellate argument. Vik knew in school that his skills and ability were leading him to be a trial advocate.
Vik took those skills to the United States Army as a civilian contractor defending enlisted soldiers who were accused of crimes either while deployed or on base. The vision of people of all backgrounds, income levels, and political persuasions putting their differences aside in pursuit of a common goal was uplifting and deepened Vik’s sense of patriotism. Moreover, Vik learned what it felt like to have scared clients look to him as their only hope for assistance in the face of government prosecution. He learned of the sacred obligation created when another human being humbles themselves and asks for help. It also made it clear to Vik where he needed to take his career.
Vik has seen the importance of having a judge ready on day one to lead in the courtroom and what can happen when a judge tries to learn on the job.
Vik began at the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office prosecuting misdemeanor crimes and traffic offenses. It was in Town Court that Vik first saw the importance of an experienced Town Justice. In Monroe County, the youngest and most inexperienced prosecutor and public defender each begin their practice in the town courts. They are each tasked with handling the liberty and freedom of our fellow citizens under a crushing volume of work and with little to no experience or guidance. Without an experienced judge to orchestrate the court, the litigants can be grossly misrepresented and the community can suffer as a result. Vik has seen the importance of having a judge ready on day one to lead in the courtroom and what can happen when a judge tries to learn on the job.
Vik's continued his practice conducting trials in nearly every town in Monroe County winning verdicts in cases as diverse as DWI’s to sex abuse. His skill and talents were noticed and he was promoted to the felony bureau where he prosecuted some of the most serious crimes in NY including robberies, home invasions, and child abuse. Vik was also the sole animal abuse prosecutor for Monroe County.
When looking for a new associate, the firm of Relin, Goldstein & Crane inquired of local judges for their recommendations for skilled courtroom advocates. Vik was recommended and hired. Switching gears from a criminal practice to a purely civil one, Vik began as an associate advocating for companies as diverse as Fortune 500 entities seeking to have contracts honored to local tradesmen looking for a fair shake. Vik was elected to the position of Partner in 2015 and continues to serve in that function.
Vik learned that if he developed the skill set to be of service to his community, and found the right community, he too could be of use to his neighbor.
Because of his trial experience he was often tasked with leading teams of national trial attorneys in fashioning strategy, briefs, and preparing witnesses for cross examination. He is admitted to practice law in both New York and Vermont and has litigated cases in both state and federal courts. His multi-state practice employs well over 100 employees and ten local attorneys.
As a young man Vik never thought it would be possible for a person named Vikram Singh Vilkhu to ever be involved in politics. Elected office was for other people, people seen as less ethnic or maybe less foreign. But then, like all of us, he saw the election of a junior senator from Illinois named Barack Hussein Obama and how the idea of “Hope” captivated a nation. Years later Vik saw a face in politics that looked like his in State Senator Jeremy Cooney. In helping Senator Cooney’s campaigns Vik learned that when a citizen runs as an act of service to their community people of all walks of life will follow and share in the achievements. Vik learned that if he developed the skill set to be of service to his community, and he found the right community, he too could assist his neighbor.
Brighton has the opportunity to elect the first Indian-American criminal judge in the 250 year history of New York State . Perhaps nowhere else in the world is this dream possible, but Vik believes it is possible here; it is possible in Brighton.
Vik is a lifelong Democrat actively aiding candidates running for judicial and political office. He lives in Brighton with his wife Abbie, two step-children, Sammy and Sebby, and an overweight bulldog named Oscar. The family is currently learning about Pokémon and their various evolutions.