Federal Judge Tanya S. Chutkan
By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Judge Tanya S. Chutkan will preside over the case of former President Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election. This decision comes after Chutkan’s previous involvement in key motions related to the January 6 committee’s investigation. Chutkan has a history with Trump. She denied his 2021 motion to prevent records from being given to the January 6 committee. In her decision, she emphasized that “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not president.” This ruling showcased her commitment to upholding the principles of democracy and the rule of law. A trailblazer in her own right, Chutkan’s background is impressive. She was born in Kingston, Jamaica and moved to the United States to pursue higher education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from George Washington University and later graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Chutkan began her law career working in private practice and later at the District of Columbia Public Defender Service. After that, she joined the law firm Boies, Schiller, & Flexner LLP, where she specialized in white-collar criminal defense for a total of 12 years. Legal experts described Chutkan as incredibly dedicated to justice and fair representation as a public defender. They said her commitment to ensuring equal access to justice was evident. Her colleagues said her extensive experience in complex legal matters and criminal defense undoubtedly contributed to her well-rounded understanding of the law. Chutkan was appointed to the District Court for the District of Columbia by former President Barack Obama in 2014. Chutkan has a reputation for being a fair and committed judge. Still, she hasn’t shied away from imposing harsher sentences than the Justice Department initially requested in cases involving January 6 defendants. When federal prosecutors suggested that Matt Mazzocco serve three months of home confinement and probation after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, Chutkan insisted that there must be consequences “beyond sitting at home” for individuals involved in an attempted violent overthrow of the U.S. government. “If Mr. Mazzocco walks away with probation and a slap on the wrist, that’s not going to deter anyone trying what he did again,” Chutkan asserted from the bench. “It does not, in this Court’s opinion, indicate the severity – the gravity of the offenses that he committed on Jan. 6.” Ultimately, she sentenced Mazzocco to 45 days in jail and 60 hours of community service. Many observers said her stance reflects a belief in the importance of holding individuals accountable for their actions during the insurrection. The judge has refused to bow to political pressure or executive privilege. In addition to denying Trump’s emergency motion in 2021, attempting to prevent the National Archives from turning over his administration’s records to the January 6 committee, she has remained steadfast in upholding the law. “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,” Chutkan was quoted as saying in a February 2022 profile posted by the federal judiciary.