Deborah A. Batts (April 13, 1947 – February 2, 2020) was a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. In June 1994, Deborah Batts was sworn in as a United States District Judge for Manhattan, becoming the nation's first openly LGBT, African-American federal judge. She took senior status on her 65th birthday, April 13, 2012.
1 Education and career
2 Federal judicial service
3 Major cases
Education and career
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Batts received an Artium Baccalaureus degree from Radcliffe College in 1969, and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1972. She subsequently clerked for Judge Lawrence Pierce on the Federal Court on which she now serves as a Judge. She was an Assistant United States Attorney from 1979 to 1984. In 1984, she became an Associate Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law. She was a special associate counsel to the Department of Investigation for New York City from 1990 to 1991.
Federal judicial service
On January 27, 1994, following the recommendation of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, President Bill Clinton nominated Batts to a seat on the Southern District left open in 1989 when Judge Richard Owen took senior status. Batts was confirmed by the United States Senate on May 6, 1994, and received her commission on May 9, 1994. She took senior status on April 13, 2012. She continued to serve concurrently as an adjunct professor at Fordham University. Her service terminated on February 2, 2020, due to her death.
1999 - criminal trial of Cheng Yong Wang and Xingqi Fu, charged in scheme to arrange transplant of organs taken from executed Chinese prisoners.
2001-04 - criminal trial of Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, charged with stabbing jail guard while awaiting separate trial in 1998 United States embassy bombings conspiracy.
2006 - civil suit against former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman alleging that she misled people near World Trade Center site about risks of toxic air pollution after September 11, 2001 attacks.
2008 - commercial litigation between Exxon Mobil and PdVSA with regards to Venezuela's expropriation of Exxon assets in the Orinoco Basin of Venezuela.
2009 - litigation regarding the publication of an unauthorized "sequel" to "Catcher in the Rye". Batts ordered an injunction to stop the book to going to press.
2011 - Overruled by the 2nd Circuit in the case of Skaftorous v US where her decision that US District Courts have the authority to decide issues of foreign (in this case, Greek) law was rejected. According to the 2nd Circuit opinion, "It is not the business of our courts to assume responsibility for supervising the integrity of the judicial system of another sovereign nation." In addition, "US Courts are strongly discouraged from reviewing whether the demanding country has complied with its own laws." 667 F.3d 144 (2d Cir. 2011)
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