Federal Judge Tanya S. Chutkan is an appointee of former President Barack Obama and a former public defender who has been assigned to the Trump indictment case that was filed on August 1, 2023.
The Jamaican-born Chutkan is married with two sons, according to her husband’s nomination hearing; her husband, Peter Krauthamer is a retired judge and Obama appointee.
Chutkan “is a federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. She joined the court in 2014 after a nomination from President Barack Obama,” Ballotpedia reports.
The indictment accuses the former president of criminal interference in the 2020 election, charging him with four counts.
Here’s what you need to know about Judge Tanya Chutkan:
1. Tanya Chutkan, a Former Public Defender, Says She Seems to ‘Check a Lot of Boxes,’ Including Immigrant, Woman, Black & Asian
According to the United States Courts website, Chutkan was previously a public defender who wondered whether she could balance those duties with “the responsibilities of parenthood. She remembers racing home after long days in court to feed her 9-month-old son and then heading to jail to meet with clients. Like all new parents, she lost a lot of sleep.”
“Remind yourself that you’re as qualified and as hard working, and as intelligent as anyone else,” she told herself, according to the site. “Fall back on the skills that have gotten you here and get to work.”
The article says that Chutkan faced “virulent criticism because of the color of her skin,” quoting her as saying, “For a lot of people, I seem to check a lot of boxes: immigrant, woman, Black, Asian. Your qualifications are always going to be subject to criticism and you have to develop a thick skin.”
Ballotpedia reports that Chutkan worked as a public defender in Washington D.C. from 1991 to 2002, and was also in private practice.
2. Tanya Chutkan Was Born in Jamaica & Moved to the United States for College at George Washington University
According to the United States Courts article, Chutkan “grew up comfortably in Kingston, Jamaica, with a passion for dance.”
She attended college at George Washington University and decided to go to law school. She became an attorney.
“I worked hard to get to where I am and took advantage of the opportunities presented to me,” Chutkan said, according to the article. “But I understand the privilege and good fortune I’ve had. Many people don’t have the same opportunities.”
According to the article, she said during the speech that judges and law firms need to proactively seek out diverse talent, saying, “The talent is there. You just have to go look for it. You can’t simply wait for a more diverse pool of applicants to appear.”
3. Judge Tanya S. Chutkan Has Already Ruled Against Donald Trump Before & Set Stronger Sentences for January 6 Defendants Than the Justice Department Requested
According to NBC News, Chutkan previously ruled against Trump twice. In 2021, she ruled that Trump’s administration had to turn over January 6 related documents, the network reported.
According to NBC News, Trump had asserted executive privilege after the U.S. House’s January 6 committee subpoenaed his administration.
Chutkan first ruled against Trump and then declined to reverse her first ruling, NBC reported.
According to Axios, she “has set tougher sentences than requested by the Justice Department in a number of cases involving Jan. 6 defendants, citing the necessity of consequences for taking part in the insurrection.”
“There have to be consequences for participating in an attempted violent overthrow of the government, beyond sitting at home,” Chutkan said, according to Axios.
4. Judge Chutkan Ordered the Trump Administration to Allow 2 Immigrant Teens to Have Abortions & Tried to Ban Federal Executions
According to Reuters, Chutkan put a hold on four federal executions after Trump sought to revive the federal death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed her decision.
However, according to the New York Times, the nation’s highest court lifted Chutkan’s preliminary injunction against the planned execution of Daniel Lewis Lee. She had cited the “extreme pain and needless suffering” from the government’s lethal injection procedure, The Times reported.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Chutkan ordered Trump administration officials to “allow two pregnant teenage immigrants being held in detention facilities to see doctors about having abortions.”
Chutkan “issued a temporary restraining order that bars administration officials from preventing the two 17-year-olds from leaving the shelters. One of the immigrants is 10 weeks pregnant and the other is in her 22nd week,” the Times reported.
Officials are “required to transport” them or allow the teens “to be transported, promptly and without delay … to an abortion provider, in order to obtain any pregnancy or abortion-related medical care,” the judge said, according to The Times.
5. Tanya Chutkan Is married; Her Husband Is Retired Judge Peter Krauthamer
A biography for Krauthamer on the courts website says that Judge Peter A. Krauthamer “was appointed to the District of Columbia Superior Court in 2011 by President Barack Obama.” He retired in 2023, according to the DC bar.
In his opening statement during his nomination hearing, Krauthamer said, “I would like to acknowledge and thank my family and friends. My wife, Tanya Chutkan,” as well as their two sons.
The court bio notes: “Judge Krauthamer has resided in the District of Columbia and Silver Spring, Maryland since 1970. He graduated from Bethesda Chevy Chase High School and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University in 1979, and a Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law in 1982.”
Like his wife, Krauthamer worked as a public defender. He was then a professor. “Judge Krauthamer is married and has two sons,” the bio says.
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