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By Felicia J. Persaud

News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Fri. Aug. 11, 2023: Donald Trumpeto’s xenophobia and sexism is legendary. He kicked off his presidential campaign attacking immigrants and continued that trend throughout his campaign and presidency. But as the legendary saying goes, “Karma is a b***h.”

Now as Trumpeto battles against three separate federal indictments, the irony of all ironies is that two of the judges chosen to oversee his case are non-other than first generation immigrants.

Be careful what you put out as it will come right back to you says teachers of karma and the law of attraction. Trumpeto has so intently focused on voicing his disdain for immigrants that he has now manifested two immigrant judges, both of whom are women.

‘What a thing,’ as my Jamaican friends would say.

So, let’s dig a little deeper into who these judges are who will be hearing the federal cases.


The first who read from the 45-page indictment presented by special counsel Jack Smith the four criminal offences and the potential maximum jail sentences he might face on August 3rd, was Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya.

Judge Upadhyaya was born in Gujarat, India, and raised near Kansas City, Missouri.  She received her Bachelor of Journalism, magna cum laude, from the Missouri School of Journalism and Bachelor of Arts, with honors in Latin, from the University of Missouri and received her J.D., cum laude, from the American University, Washington College of Law, where she earned distinction for her trial work representing clients in the Criminal Justice Clinic and was a member of the Administrative Law Review.

After she graduated from law school, Judge Upadhyaya served a two-year term as law clerk to the Honorable Eric T. Washington, former Chief Judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals.  Judge Upadhyaya then joined Venable LLP’s Washington, D.C. office, where she practiced complex commercial and administrative litigation.  Judge Upadhyaya left Venable from 2011-2012 to serve as the first law clerk to the Honorable Robert L. Wilkins (currently U.S. Circuit Judge for the D.C. Circuit), during his tenure as a District Judge on this Court. 

Judge Upadhyaya rejoined Venable after her clerkship with Judge Wilkins and continued her litigation practice until her appointment to the bench in September 2022.  During her time as an associate and ultimately partner at Venable, Judge Upadhyaya devoted her pro bono practice to representing indigent clients in post-conviction proceedings, including representing clients who raised challenges under the D.C. Innocence Protection Act and the D.C. Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act. 

For her work in this capacity, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project awarded Judge Upadhyaya its Defender of Innocence Award in 2009 and Venable named her Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year in 2006.

The case will next be heard on August 28th in the court of District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who will preside over the eventual trial.


Judge Chutkan is also a first-generation immigrant. She born in Kingston, Jamaica and received her B.A. in Economics from George Washington University and her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She was also an Associate Editor of the Law Review and a Legal Writing Fellow.

After law school, she worked in private practice for three years, then joined the District of Columbia Public Defender Service (“PDS”), where she worked as a trial attorney and supervisor.  During her tenure at PDS, she argued several appellate cases and tried over 30 cases, including numerous serious felony matters.  Eleven years later, she left PDS to join Boies, Schiller, & Flexner LLP, where she specialized in litigation and white-collar criminal defense.   During her 12 years at the firm, her clients included antitrust class action plaintiffs, as well as individual and corporate defendants involved in complex state and federal litigation.

From 1996 – 2000 Judge Chutkan was a member of the Steering Committee for the Criminal Law and Individual Rights Section of the District of Columbia Bar.   She is a frequent lecturer on trial techniques, and she has served as a faculty member at the Harvard Law School Trial Advocacy Workshop.  Judge Chutkan  was appointed to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in June 2014 by former President Barack Obama. 

She has already dealt Trumpeto one of the most significant legal blows of his lifetime, triggering perhaps the greatest deluge of evidence about his bid to subvert the 2020 election – a scheme for which he now stands charged with serious crimes.

It was Judge Chutkan who ruled in fall 2021 that the House Jan. 6th select committee could access reams of Trump’s White House files – a ruling that was subsequently upheld by an appeals court and left undisturbed by the Supreme Court.

She has also delivered some of the harshest sentences to Jan. 6 defendants and made her disgust and horror over the attack clear, lamenting the prospect of renewed political violence in 2024, and noting that no one accused of orchestrating the effort to subvert the election had been held accountable.

“You have made a very good point,” she told Jan. 6 rioter Robert Palmer at his December 2021 sentencing, “that the people who exhorted you and encouraged you and rallied you to go and take action and to fight have not been charged.”

Judge Chutkan, 61, was randomly selected to preside over Trump’s latest criminal case, his third in the last four months.

Oh, the irony! Or is it simply KARMA?

The writer is publisher of – The Black Immigrant Daily News.

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