This Is the Judge in Trump's Jan. 6 Trial

Meet Tanya Chutkan
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2023 1:10 AM CDT
This Is the Judge in Trump's Jan. 6 Trial
This undated photo provided by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, shows U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan. Chutkan is initially assigned to the election fraud case against former President Donald Trump.   (Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts via AP)

The judges in the various cases against former President Trump are, not surprisingly, the subject of much interest (and sometimes threats or scrutiny). With Trump's third indictment comes a third judge: meet Tanya S. Chutkan, who has been assigned to oversee the case involving Trump's alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Media outlets including the Washington Post, the Hill, ABC News, CNN, and Axios are taking a look at Chutkan, as well as the process that got her assigned to the case:

  • Background: Chutkan was born in Jamaica and attended George Washington University and the University of Pennsylvania law school before working for many years as a public defender as well as a private attorney. Then-President Obama appointed her to the US District Court for the District of Columbia in 2014, and she was confirmed unanimously by the Senate.
  • How was she chosen for the Trump case? The Post says that the choice was essentially a random draw, explaining that there's "a random process intended to prevent prosecutors from judge-shopping in pursuit of a friendlier forum, or judges from steering cases among themselves" by which she was assigned to the case. It goes much more into detail on that process here.

  • Past experience with Jan. 6 rioters: Chutkan has had what multiple outlets describe as harsh words for the dozens of Capitol rioters whose trials she's presided over. On multiple occasions, she's issued sentences that were longer than what prosecutors asked for. In fact, the New York Post notes that last year, the AP named her the "toughest punisher" of rioters.
  • Past words for Trump: The rioters aren't the only ones for whom Chutkan has had strong words. In sentencing one of them, Chutkan said of Trump that the then-POTUS "did not go to the United States Capitol out of any love for our country. … He went for one man."
  • And a past ruling involving Trump: Chutkan was the one who denied an emergency motion Trump filed in November 2021 in which he attempted to block the National Archives from giving records from his administration to the House select committee probing the Capitol riot; she denied the motion.
  • Connections: The NY Post notes that Republicans may take issue with the fact that Chutkan worked for a law firm with ties to Hunter Biden and the Democratic Party. In her work for that firm, she once represented Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes' doomed blood-testing startup.
(More Donald Trump stories.)

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