WASHINGTON – U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan has been assigned to preside over the criminal case involving Donald Trump after a federal grand jury investigating the efforts of the former president and others to overturn the results of the 2020 election returned an indictment on Tuesday.
Chutkan’s assignment came in a random draw, according to The Washington Post. Trump’s first appearance on Thursday in Washington, D.C., will not come in front of Chutkan, CNN reported. Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya will handle that hearing.
“I worked hard to get to where I am and took advantage of the opportunities presented to me,” Chutkan told U.S. Courts in a 2022 interview. “But I understand the privilege and good fortune I’ve had. Many people don’t have the same opportunities.”
Here are some things to know about the 61-year-old Chutkan, who said she had to develop “a thick skin” during her years as an attorney and a judge.
Tanya Sue Chutkan was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on July 5, 1962. She is a trained dancer, according to the Post. She is married to Peter Krauthamer, 65, a former Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. They have two sons.
According to her D.C. District Court biography, Chutkan received her bachelor’s degree in economics from George Washington University in 1983. She received her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School four years later.
At Penn, Chutkan was an associate editor of the Law Review and was a Legal Writing Fellow, according to her biography.
Chutkan worked in private practice and then for the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, where she worked as a trial attorney and supervisor, her biography states. She argued 30 cases during her 11-year tenure with the PDS.
Chutkan then joined the law firm of Boies, Schiller, & Flexner LLP, according to her biography. She spent 12 years at the firm, and her clients included antitrust class action plaintiffs. She also specialized in litigation and white-collar criminal defense.
“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 an interview with U.S. Courts.
Confirmation as judge
Chutkan was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in June 2014 by then-President Barack Obama, the Post reported. The Senate approved her appointment by a 95-0 vote, according to Target Wire Services in a 2014 dispatch.
Jan. 6 cases
Chutkan has sentenced at least 31 people convicted of Capitol riot-related crimes, according to the Post. They received prison terms ranging from 10 days to more than five years, according to an Associated Press analysis of court records.
She has set tougher standards than those requested by the Justice Department in several cases involving Jan. 6 defendants, according to Axios.
As a district judge, Chutkan rejected an effort by Trump to block the release of documents to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol incident, The Associated Press reported. Trump had claimed he held executive privilege over the documents from his administration, even after his successor, Joe Biden, cleared the way for the National Archives to receive the documents, according to the news organization.
“At bottom, this is a dispute between a former and incumbent President,” Chutkan wrote. “And the Supreme Court has already made clear that in such circumstances, the incumbent’s view is accorded greater weight.”
She wrote that Trump could not claim that his executive privilege “exists in perpetuity,” adding that “Presidents are not kings, and Plaintiff is not President.”