Judge Deborah A. Robinson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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U.S. Department of Justice

Federal Magistrate Judge Robinson

Appearing in front of a federal judge for the first time, both Paul Manafort and Rick Gates pled not guilty to all 12 counts against them. Manafort is being held on $10 million bond, while Gates’ is set at $5 million.

On October 30, Manafort, 68, of Alexandria, Virginia, was indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, the special counsel’s office said in a press release. Gates, 45, of Richmond, Virginia, faces the same charges.

“The case was unsealed on Oct. 30, 2017, after the defendants were permitted to surrender themselves to the custody of the FBI,” Peter Carr, a spokesperson for Mueller’s office, said in the press release.

Manafort and Gates appeared in front of Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson at their arraignment, just hours after they turned themselves into federal authorities after their indictment by the U.S. Department of Justice and special counsel Robert Mueller.

Robinson has been a federal judge since the late 1980s, and has presided over a number of high-profile cases during her tenure. In 2009, her son was convicted in federal court of dealing heroin.

Here’s what you need to know about Robinson:

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1. Robinson Has Been on the Court Since 1988

Prior to her appointed on the bench, Robinson earned her bachelor’s degree from Morgan State University in 1975 and then attended Emory University School of Law, where she got her Juris Doctor.

After her education, Robinson clerked for Chief Judge H. Carl Moultrie of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for two years (1978-79). Following her clerkship, she joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

As an assistant U.S. attorney, she prosecuted criminal actions in both the Superior Court and the U.S. District Court while also arguing appeals in two separate courts. She was sworn in as a federal magistrate judge on July 18, 1988, and her term is set to expire on July 17, 2020.


2. Her Son Was Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Dealing Heroin

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Phillip Winkfield

Robinson’s son, Philip Robinson Winkfield, was sentenced to five years in a federal prison for dealing heroin in 2009. The sentence came after his arrest and federal trial found reviewed evidence which ultimately led to his conviction.

On April 25, 2009, agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and officers from the Baltimore Police Department raided Winkfield’s apartment and seized large amounts of cocaine and heroin, five loaded guns, a bulletproof vest, 7 pounds of marijuana and $8,000 cash. He was arrested and held without bail facing narcotics and firearms charges.

Because he was charged in federal court, his state charges were dismissed and he faced a maximum of 40 years imprisonment. He had two previous criminal convictions before the arrest, both occurring in 2007 for possessing a weapon and drug paraphernalia.

According to TickleTheWire.com, Winkfield had lived with Robinson for 18 years, and she watched him as he was taken away in handcuffs.

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3. Robinson Presided Over an NBA Star’s Trial

Since she started serving as a judge, Robinson has presided over many high-profile cases, including one involving NBA player Allen Iverson, TickleTheWire.com reported in 2009.

Iverson has suffered from legal troubles over the years, and Robinson presided over a trial in which his bodyguard allegedly beat up another man during a 2005 bar fight.

According to ESPN, Iverson was ordered to pay $260,000 for standing by as his bodyguard, Jason Kane, allegedly punched and kicked bar patron Marlin Godfrey with a bottle because he refused to exit a VIP section where Iverson was.

A jury found that Iverson was guilty of standing by as the alleged attack took place. He appealed the verdict that was decided by a jury, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied the filing.

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“The evidence in this case supported the jury’s finding that Kane attacked Godfrey in a fight that lasted several minutes, and that Iverson stood and watched without attempting to do anything to stop the beating,” the decision by the three-judge panel, including Robinson, said.

On February 14, 1993, Iverson and several others were involved in a fight at a bowling alley in Hampton, Virginia. Iverson and his friends allegedly got raucous and were asked to quiet down several times. Suddenly, a fight broke out between the black group of males and the white group of males.

During the fight, Iverson, who was 17 at the time, allegedly hit a woman in the head with a chair and was arrested. He was charged as an adult and was convicted on a felony charge of maiming by mob. He claimed his innocence in the matter, but drew a 15-year prison sentence with 10 years being suspended.

Iverson served four months at a correction facility and was granted clemency by Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder before the Virginia Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in 1995 due to insufficient evidence.


4. Robinson Presided Over Scooter Libby’s Trial

Robinson once presided over the trial of former vice presidential adviser I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was indicted on five counts regarding the leak of the covert identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson. He was convicted on four counts (one count of obstruction of justice, two counts of perjury, and one count of making false statement). The conviction made him the highest-ranking White House official to be convicted in a government scandal since John Poindexter, who was found guilty on five criminal charges in 1990 regarding his role in the Iran-Contra affair.

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Prior to his conviction, Libby held the offices of Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs and Chief of Staff to the Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney. Following his indictment, Libby resigned from the positions.

Officials initially recommended a $10,000 fine and a loss of his security clearance, but Robinson increased the fine to $50,000, saying: “The court finds the fine (recommended by government prosecutors) is inadequate because it doesn’t reflect the seriousness of the offense.”

Libby was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, but it was commuted by President George W. Bush. He was ordered to serve two years probation and perform 100 hours of community service.


5. Robinson Presided Over the Trial of Marion Barry

Robinson also presided over the trial of Marion S. Barry, the former mayor of the District of Columbia. He served as the mayor from 1979 until 1991 and then again from 1995 until 1999. He rose to fame as being the first prominent civil rights activist to become chief executive of a major American city.

But some legal issues over the years gave him fame for other reasons.

In January 1990, a videotape of Barry smoking crack cocaine surfaced, and he was arrested by F.B.I. agents on drug charges.

In 2005, Robinson was the federal judge who presided over a case which saw Barry be convicted of failing to pay his taxes for five years after he left as mayor.

According to The Washington Post, Barry earned over $530,000 after he ended his run as mayor, but never filed a tax return to document the income. He plead guilty to the two misdemeanor charges in federal court in front of Robinson.

“I made a mistake,” he said, saying health issues distracted him from filing.

Barry faced up to 18 months in federal prison and fines totaling close to $30,000, but he was ultimately sentenced to six months imprisonment. Investigators found no evidence of tax evasion, a felony charge. In court, Robinson asked Barry whether the allegations against him were true.

“Yes, it’s accurate,” he said.

Barry died in Washington D.C. on November 23, 2014 from cardiac arrest. He was 78-years old and was buried at Washington’s Congressional Cemetery.


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