A renowned innovator on the bench, Sasser had been battling Stage 4 cancer.

Meenu Sasser came to America from India not knowing a word of English.

She rose from her modest start to become Palm Beach County’s first Asian-American judge, a renowned innovator on the bench, highly regarded among many attorneys who practiced in front of her.

On Saturday, she died after a battle with esophageal cancer. She was 48.

Sasser had returned to the bench in August 2018, following what appeared to be successful treatment for Stage 4 esophageal cancer.

<<2018 PROFILE: Judge Sasser fights off cancer, remains committed to court innovation

When the cancer returned, Sasser informed The Palm Beach Post in March she was in Phase 2 of a clinical trial for a new immunotherapy drug at MD Anderson, a cancer research hospital, in Houston.

Her husband, prominent divorce attorney Thomas Sasser, said his wife wants to be remembered for her work, not her cause of death.

“She was very much about improving the court system for the public,” he said. “At her core, she believed in the American legal system, and more than anything in that belief, she felt it was important for officers of the court — judges, lawyers — to show the public we were doing the best job we can.”

News of Sasser’s death hit social media on Sunday morning after The 15th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida announced it on Twitter.

The Palm Beach County chapter of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers called Sasser “a trailblazer in our legal community.”

“Judge Meenu Sasser was a distinguished jurist who greatly supported and championed female lawyers,” said Rina Clemens, president of the FAWL chapter.

Dave Aronberg, state attorney for Palm Beach County, tweeted: "Meenu Sasser was a beloved person and excellent judge. Touched the lives of so many of us. May her name be of blessed memory."

The Federalist Society of South Florida, Palm Beach Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Palm Beach County Bar Association also expressed condolences ‒ the latter which Sasser served as president from 2007-2008.

Sasser told The Post when she returned to the bench that her fight with cancer made her a better judge.

“It’s made me more patient, kinder, more understanding of those who are going through a difficult period,” she said.

The Palm Beach County Bar gave Sasser the highest number of positive responses in its last survey of attorneys in December 2017. It was the third time in a row Sasser, who lived in Boynton Beach, had received the top rating in the survey.

Sasser emigrated with her family to Washington, D.C. from India when she was in the first grade. She landed in ESOL (English as a Second Language) class.

“I never expected a girl who started off in ESOL classes to have what I have now,” Sasser told The Post in December 2017.

“If I can do it, anyone can. It takes hard work, dedication and a little help. I want the next generation to know that they can do this, too.”

The judge at one time contemplated whether to go to medical school. Early on, she worked for the FDA’s oncology and drug products department.

Her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School landed her a job in 1995 with Gunster, the oldest commercial law firm in Palm Beach County. She became a shareholder in 2002.

Sasser was appointed to the bench in 2009 by then-Gov. Charlie Crist.

She embraced online technology as a judge and volunteered to handle hundreds of lawsuits smokers and their families filed against cigarette-makers.

She was nicknamed “The Rocket” due to how fast she tore through foreclosure cases during the housing crisis.

In December, Sasser spearheaded a forum as part of the Civil Jury Project at New York University Law School, which addressed issues pertaining to civil juries and jury duty.

Among the many cases she oversaw, Sasser threw out a civil lawsuit in 2009 against the parents of killer Paul Merhige, finding they could not be responsible for their son’s heinous actions.

Last year, she green-lighted the lawsuit filed against E. LLwyd Ecclestone Jr. by his adult daughter who alleged the prominent real estate developer molested her as a child.

Sasser also allowed a defamation case brought by Rev. John Gallagher — a whistle-blower on sexual abuse — to go forward against the Diocese of Palm Beach.

It was shortly before her 47th birthday when Sasser started feeling listless and suffering stomach aches. Sasser had a grapefruit-sized tumor removed from her esophagus.

During treatment for chemotherapy, Sasser shunned a wig and made jokes about her emaciated appearance, saying, “I always wanted to be a size zero.”

Sasser was hospitalized last week due to some side effects of the treatment and was looking to get discharged when she suffered respiratory distress. Her husband said her death was unexpected.

There will be a visitation Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. at Quattlebaum Funeral Home on Okeechobee Boulevard. A Catholic Mass will be held Friday at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Lake Worth at 2 p.m.

Survivors include her husband and her three children: Andrew, 18, Caroline, 17, and William, 15. She is also survived by her mother, Shukla Talwar and her sister, federal prosecutor Rinku Talwar Tribuiani.

Reporters Jane Musgrave and Daphne Duret contributed to this story.

jpacenti@pbpost.com

@jpacenti