Judge Deborah Batts during the Robert Moffat sentencing 2010
By - Associated Press - Monday, February 3, 2020
NEW YORK — Deborah A. Batts, the nation’s first openly gay federal judge, has died. She was 72.
Batts was found dead on Monday, three months before she was set to preside over a trial of California lawyer Michael Avenatti on charges that he cheated porn star Stormy Daniels, a former client, of proceeds of a book deal. No cause of death was immediately released.
In June 1994, Batts was sworn in after a smooth confirmation process following her appointment to the bench by President Bill Clinton.
“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,” Chief Judge Colleen McMahon said in a statement. “It will be difficult to replace her. Our hearts are broken at her premature passing.”
McMahon said one of the judge’s greatest contributions to the court was her last, when she provided oversight to a unique program that enabled people convicted of crimes to earn reductions in their period of supervised release by participating in a special rehabilitative program under intense judicial supervision.