Deborah Batts, a U.S. District court judge for the Southern District of New York and the first openly gay judge on the federal bench, has died at 72. Batts was nominated to the federal bench by Bill Clinton and was sworn in in 1994. The cause of Batts’ death has not been disclosed.
The New York Daily News reports: “Batts was about to preside over embezzlement trial of lawyer Michael Avenatti, who is accused of swindling $300,000 from his best-known client, porn star Stormy Daniels, while he was representing her in her legal fight against President Trump.”
Said Manhattan federal Chief Judge Colleen McMahon in a statement: “Deborah Batts was a trailblazer in every respect: an openly gay African-American woman who became a United States District Judge after a distinguished career as a federal prosecutor and law professor. She will be remembered by her colleagues for her devotion to the work of the court, for her mentorship of a cadre of young lawyers of all backgrounds, and for her infectious smile and extraordinary collegiality. Our hearts are broken at her premature passing.”