(JamaicaObserver)TANYA Chutkan, the Jamaican-born judge presiding over the criminal trial of former United States President Donald J Trump, beginning Thursday, has gained the reputation of being harsh in her rulings but at least one family member, her aunt Jean Barnes, believes she is fair, balanced and the right person for the job.
“I think that she’s an excellent choice; I think the case is in the very best of hands. She’s a determined person, she knows our own mind, and above all, I think she’s really fair,” Barnes told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday.
Chutkan, who has served as a judge in the US District Court for the District of Columbia since 2014, following former US President Barack Obama’s nomination, will be trying Trump for the role he is accused of playing in the events leading up to the January 6, 2021, United States Capitol attack.
According to an Associated Press report, Trump was indicted on felony charges Tuesday for working to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in the run-up to the violent riot by his supporters at the US Capitol, as the Justice Department moved to hold him accountable for his efforts to block the peaceful transfer of power. During that melee, Trump supporters broke into the building, attacked police officers, and disrupted the congressional counting of electoral votes.
Federal prosecutors charged Trump with conspiracy to defraud the US, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy against rights based on his wide-ranging efforts to overturn the 2020 election, which included efforts to have state legislators overturn the vote count in their states and to stop Congress from certifying the electoral votes on January 6.
The indictment is the third criminal case brought against the former president.
Barnes said the entire family is proud and pleased that Chutkan was selected to preside over the proceedings, but understands it is a great responsibility which they believe she is more than capable of handling, and that it is a feat that will cement her in the annals of history.
“Whether Mr Trump goes free or whether he is convictedâ€¦ he’s going to go down in history because it’s the first time a US president has ever been charged criminally and she would be the first judge ever to try such a person. So the whole thing is historic. Regardless of what the outcome is, she’s going to go down in history,” Barnes said.
Also describing her niece as fearless, Barnes said the family “expects good things from her, and Mr Trump can expect a fair trial”.
Known as a no-nonsense judge, Chutkan is no stranger to ruling in matters concerning Trump. According to a BBC report, in 2021, Chutkan blocked Trump’s efforts to stop a congressional committee’s bid to access reams of his administration’s White House papers with the memorable phrase: “Presidents are not kings, and plaintiff is not president”.
Chutkan has also handed down sentences for January 6 rioters, who have been convicted of participation in the riots. Of the 31 defendants who went before her, Judge Chutkan sentenced all to jail time, according to a Washington Post tally.
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Chutkan moved to the US to attend George Washington University before moving on to law school at the University of Pennsylvania.
According to her biography, for more than 10 years, she worked as a public defender in Washington, DC, where she argued several appellate cases and tried more than 30 cases, including numerous serious felony matters.