Manhattan federal Judge Deborah Batts who was slated to oversee Michael Avenatti’s Stormy Daniels-related embezzlement trial, has died. She was 72.
The Philadelphia-born jurist, who was the first openly gay member of the federal judiciary, passed away Feb. 2, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Her cause of death was not immediately clear.
“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,” Manhattan federal Chief Judge Colleen McMahon said in a statement. “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,” said McMahon.
The Clinton appointee was set to preside over the upcoming trial of embattled attorney Avenatti on embezzlement charges, for allegedly pocketing money meant for his well-known client Daniels, also known as Stephanie Clifford.
Batts’ passing will likely delay the trial, currently scheduled to begin April 21.
The judge earned her undergraduate degree in 1969 from Radcliffe College, and graduated in 1972 from Harvard Law School.
She was sworn in as a federal judge in Manhattan in 1992, and also served as an adjunct professor at Fordham University School of Law.
Information regarding services was not immediately available.
Avenatti is currently standing trial before another judge on charges of attempting to extort Nike out of more than $20 million.
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