HomeIndian AmericanWho is the Indian American judge who arraigned Donald Trump?

Who is the Indian American judge who arraigned Donald Trump?

With his arraignment yesterday before Magistrate Judge Moxila Upadhyaya, a former president was charged for crimes alleged during his time in office for the first time in US history.

Upadhyaya drew Donald Trump’s ire yesterday for calling him “Mr. Trump” at his arraignment, rather than the title “Mr. President” he still uses at his private clubs and residences, according to CNN.

The Gujarat-born, Kansas-raised Indian American continued, warning Trump that if he violated the conditions of his release he could be held without bail preceding trial — which, for such a complex, high-profile case, could be quite some time.

Besides typical provisions like those requiring him not to break any laws, reappear in court and sign a bond, he is barred from communicating about the facts of the case with anyone he knows to be a witness, as NBC News reported. He did not have to pay a cash bail.

As a Magistrate Judge, Moxila Upadhyaya won’t be overseeing Trump’s trial for his efforts to stay in power despite losing the election, but she is handling many of the preliminary elements, including Trump’s arraignment yesterday.

Heading the trial is Tanya S. Chutkan, a Jamaica-born United States district judge the BBC called ‘hard-line’ for her tough sentencing of Jan. 6 defendants. Both Indo-Jamaican and Afro-Jamaican, she joins Upadhyaya as another jurist of South Asian descent in Trump’s trial.

Upadhyaya was appointed last year and has previously handled cases for several Jan. 6 defendants other than Trump.

Before her appointment on Sept. 7, 2022, by a vote of active district judges, she worked as a commercial litigation lawyer and as a law clerk for federal judges. Her first experience with the court where she now sits was between 2011 and 2012 as the first law clerk to Judge Robert Wilkins in his tenure as a district judge.

Much of her career was spent at Venable LLP, where she served as counsel in many civil and criminal proceedings, and had an active pro bono criminal defense practice, including representing a client who successfully overturned his murder conviction.

For her post-conviction work, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project awarded Judge Upadhyaya its Defender of Innocence Award in 2009 and Venable made her Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in 2006, according to her US District Court of D.C. biography.

She has also served on the Board of Directors for the D.C. Access to Justice Foundation, with the Council for Court Excellence and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.

At his arrest and arraignment for the trial, Trump pleaded not guilty to the four criminal charges in this indictment.

The four charges are conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction, and conspiracy to violate American’s voting rights, according to ABC News.

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