Who Is the Judge Handling Trump’s Initial Court Appearance?


Former President Donald J. Trump’s court appearance in Washington on Thursday, his first since he was indicted in the 2020 elections case, will be presided over by Magistrate Judge Moxila A. Upadhyaya.

Any trial over Mr. Trump’s efforts to stay in power despite his electoral loss will be overseen by Judge Tanya S. Chutkan. But magistrate judges like Judge Upadhyaya handle many preliminary proceedings for criminal cases, including arraignments, which Mr. Trump’s appearance on Thursday is expected to be. (He is expected to enter a “not guilty” plea, as he did in two previous arraignments this year.)

Judge Upadhyaya was appointed last year, and has handled proceedings for several Jan. 6 defendants at the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington.

Before being appointed to the bench, she was a complex commercial litigation lawyer and a law clerk for judges on the United States District Court in Washington and the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The law firm where she eventually became a partner, Venable L.L.P., described her experience with the federal and state court systems as “second to none.”

Judge Upadhyaya was born in Gujarat, India, and raised in Missouri before she attended American University’s Washington College of Law. Her biography on the Federal District Court’s website includes an audio clip demonstrating the correct pronunciation of her name.

She donated at least $2,550 to political candidates, all Democrats, in the decade before her judicial appointment, according to OpenSecrets.


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