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The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

GW alumna to preside over Trump election conspiracy case

Hatchet File Photo
Hatchet File Photo

GW alumna and District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan will preside over former President Donald Trump’s election fraud case.

An immigrant from Jamaica, Chutkan was appointed by former President Barack Obama to serve on the District Court’s D.C. Circuit in 2014. Now Chutkan, who graduated from GW in 1983 with a degree in economics, will oversee the momentous case.

Trump had been under federal investigation for his failed attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, which culminated in violent riots at the Capitol while Congress certified Joe Biden’s electoral victory. A grand jury on Tuesday charged Trump with conspiracy to defraud the United States, witness tampering, conspiracy against the rights of citizens, and obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding.

Chutkan is one of the harshest punishers of rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, sentencing many to prison sentences beyond what prosecutors had requested.

In a 2016 interview with The Hatchet, Chutkan said she applied to GW without her parents’ knowledge and received her acceptance letter while they were out of the country — she had to leave for college without telling them because she only had one week to get to GW.

After attending law school at the University of Pennsylvania, Chutkan moved back to D.C. to practice law. In the interview, she said moving back to D.C. was a “no-brainer” because living in a city of worldly people made her feel more comfortable as an immigrant from Kingston, Jamaica.

“You were one of a few, but there were lawyers who were here, who were active, who looked out for younger minority lawyers, and there was a community so that was important as well,” Chutkan said in the interview.

She worked in private practice law for three years before joining D.C. Public Defender Services, in which she served for 11 years, according to her page on the District Court’s website. After PDS, Chutkan worked at three other law firms and was a partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP before being appointed to the District Court.

Trump is also facing criminal charges in New York, a defamation lawsuit, and a grand jury investigation in Georgia. He will appear in court in D.C. for his Thursday arraignment, but it is yet unclear when his trial will take place.

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