37.5 F
Fort Worth
Friday, December 4, 2020
Government Rookie federal judge halted Trump's refugee deportations - to save a Syrian

Rookie federal judge halted Trump’s refugee deportations – to save a Syrian

Other News

Tarrant County DA’s office changing how it handles misdemeanor marijuna cases

The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office is changing how it handles misdemeanor marijuana cases. The Tarrant County  Criminal District Attorney’s Office on Monday, Nov....

Arlington selects new police chief from Baltimore department

Col. Al Jones, a 25-year veteran of the Baltimore County Police Department, has been appointed the new police chief of the the City of...

Family of Black woman shot through window sues Texas officer

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Family members of a Black woman who was killed when a white police officer fired through a window of...

Law firm offers free estate plans for health care workers during pandemic

Fort Worth attorney Erik Martin says he felt compelled to find a way for his law firm to join the effort to support frontline...

Ann M. Donnelly waited half a year for her chance to convince the Senate that she’d make a good federal judge. When the day finally came, she packed as many relatives as she could into the benches.

In her opening comments, she named every single one of them.

Donnelly introduced the senators to her husband, Michael. Her sister Sarah and brother Thomas. And then their spouses and their four children.

And to her mother and late father – “I know he is watching,” she told the judiciary committee in spring of 2015. And her two daughters, and their boyfriends – one of whom would be Donnelly’s future son-in-law by the time she was sworn in the next year.

And then Saturday night, after a year and a week on the federal bench, Donnelly sat in her own courtroom in Brooklyn while families shouted and cried in airports across the country.

President Donald Trump’s sudden ban on refugees and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries had interrupted reunions midflight, leaving aunts and nephews and fathers and daughters stranded on opposite sides of security cordons, while federal officials decided who would be deported by presidential decree.

That’s the night the daughter of Mary and Jack Donnelly – whose speeches and rulings had rarely traveled beyond courthouse walls – became known across the world as the first judge to block Trump’s order.

Never before in her long legal career had Donnelly gained such attention. Nowhere close.

Her old college roommate, Darcy Gibson Berglund, remembers the Ohio-raised English major starring in a campus rendition of “Pippin” in the late 1970s – but quickly leaving the stage for the law.

“She’s an intellectual, she was not going to pursue theater,” Berglund said. But she said her friend retained “a facility with language” after graduating law school in 1984, which occasionally showed up in the papers.

Donnelly spent the next quarter-century as a New York prosecutor. Her most famous case was against two executives who looted their company – a trial that the New York Times described as “six months of sometimes tedious testimony.”

The paper recounted Donnelly’s closing arguments in the Tyco International case, when she “at times seemed like a schoolteacher lecturing her students.”

The executives “believed they were above the law, and they believe the rules that apply to other people do not apply to them,” Donnelly told the jury in 2004.

The men were convicted. This week, some of Donnelly’s old colleagues praised her demeanor during that trial – one telling the Times she was “the calm center of the spinning wheel,” even then.

She made state judge a few years after her victory in the Tyco trial, in 2009, and for years handled mostly criminal trials.

Donnelly would later tell senators that sentencing someone to prison “is one of the most difficult tasks a judge faces.” Some of her cases, however, we so horrific it didn’t seem hard.

“Not only did you strangle this woman, you then chopped her up,” she told a man in 2010, according to the New York Daily News, before sentencing him to 19 years to life for killing his ex-girlfriend and burying her in concrete.

If the killer were ever released, the paper noted, he would be deported because he had come to the United States illegally.

Several years later, a populist Republican would begin crafting campaign speeches around violent immigrants, as Trump and Donnelly approached intersection.

But first, Donnelly had to wait.

And wait, and wait, and wait after President Barack Obama nominated her to the federal circuit in November 2014, promising she would “serve the American people with integrity and an unwavering commitment to justice.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee did not hold hearings to approve her for months, a common theme in an era when White House and Congress stood divided.

“I’m thrilled the committee is finally moving forward,” Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said in May 2015. “I know Ann well.”

He spoke of her parents in Ohio, and her work prosecuting sex crimes. He told his colleague of offices Donnelly had left long ago, where “her reputation is legendary.”

“She is at her core a kind, thoughtful, compassionate person,” Schumer said.

He asked her family to stand. “You’ll see, it’s a great sight.”

Donnelly’s mother and a dozen-some siblings, children, spouses, nieces and friends all rose in the chamber. One woman wiped tears from her eyes after Donnelly took the table at the front of the room.

The senators asked her only two questions, and only about criminal law.

“It’s a certain risk a judge takes,” Donnelly told Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., speaking of times she had tried to rehabilitate rather than punish a young offender, in hopes to “save someone from what is bound to be a life of crime.”

But mostly, Donnelly spoke of her family before ceding the table and waiting for the Senate’s decision.

Another half a year passed until the Senate confirmed her, nearly unanimously, with only two nays.

Yet more months went by before Donnelly was sworn in, quoting Abraham Lincoln in Brooklyn, and speaking once again about her family.

She made no great news for a full year on the federal bench – until Saturday evening, when protesters thronged major U.S. airports and an executive with the American Civil Liberties Union tweeted directions to Donnelly’s courthouse.

“Go right now if you can,” he wrote.

It had by then been a full day since Trump signed an executive order he said would “keep radical Islamic terrorists” out of the country – but which turned out to instantly bar people who had spent weeks or years planning journeys to the United States, and in some cases were already here.

They had names like Labeeb Ali, who told The Washington Post he had sold his business and belongings in Iraq and obtained a U.S. visa before finding out at the airport he couldn’t even board his flight.

And Binto Adan, who The Post reported had flown thousands of miles with her 8 and 9-year-old children expecting to see her husband, but who ended up held all day by Dulles Airport security because her family was Somali.

“I am looking for my parents! They are elderly!” a crying woman shouted in the same airport that night. And in cities from Dallas to Seattle, bewildered families sought missing members, and the ACLU’s emergency request to stop the deportations found its way to Donnelly’s courtroom in New York.

She had once been a government lawyer herself, but that night showed little patience for their arguments, The Post reported.

“Our own government presumably approved their entry to the country,” Donnelly said, weighing the risks of sending unknown numbers of people back across the oceans.

An ACLU lawyer interrupted the hearing to warn Donnelly that a flier was about to be deported to war-torn Syria unless she acted immediately.

Donnelly asked if the government could guarantee that person’s safety, and unconvinced by their answer, issued her order just before 9 p.m.

Sending travelers back could cause “irreparable harm,” she ruled. She’d turned more eloquent phrases, but this time her written words were photographed and immediately shared across the world.

“Stay is granted,” the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project wrote on Twitter.

“Stay is national.”

By early Sunday morning, tearful and exhausted people were emerging from security areas across the United States. They had no guarantee for their future in the United States, but they had a reprieve from immediate deportation.

And as families filtered out into the cities, the name of a federal judge they’d never heard of was in headlines across the globe.


close






Oh hi there 👋 It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.


close






Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Latest News

Optimism growing for COVID relief bill as pressure builds

By ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Optimism about delivering long-sought COVID-19 relief is building on Capitol Hill after additional rank-and-file lawmakers voiced support...

US adds Chinese chipmaker, oil giant to security blacklist

BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. government has stepped up a feud with Beijing over security by adding China’s biggest processor chip maker and a...

Gov. Greg Abbott tells supporters he’s considering placing law enforcement for central Austin under state control

In his latest move in a political fight against Austin over police funding, Gov. Greg Abbott says he is considering a proposal to put...

Joaquin Castro loses bid to lead U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro came up short Thursday in his bid to become chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He lost to U.S. Rep....

Biden, top Democrats swing behind bipartisan virus aid bill

By ANDREW TAYLOR Associated PressWASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden swung behind a bipartisan COVID-19 relief effort Wednesday and his top Capitol Hill allies...