U.S. District Court Judge Ann M. Donnelly had a quiet dinner out Saturday night with her husband, according to her mother who lives in Oakwood.
Mary Donnelly said her daughter indicated it was nice that no one knew her despite her job as a federal judge for the Eastern District of New York.
That’s probably changed.
Donnelly was the first federal judge to temporarily block part of President Trump’s executive order on immigration. She ruled that a portion of Trump’s order sending travelers back to their counties could cause “irreparable harm.”
The 1977 Oakwood High School grad who just started her second year as a federal judge — she waited a year and a half before the Senate confirmed her 95-2 — didn’t always dream of a career in the law.
“She was a piano major for a long time and an English major,” said her mother, who taught piano for 35 yeas and still lives in Oakwood. “And then she told her father that she thought she’d become a paralegal. And then he said, ‘Why don’t you become a lawyer?’ And so she did.”
Asked if she could imagine her daughter taking on cases of worldwide interest, Mary Donnelly said yes, but thought it may be another high-profile case:
“I was kind of worried that maybe they’d bring the drug lord (Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman) that they brought in from Mexico and she’d have to deal with that, but that didn’t happen.”
As for the international attention her daughter has received — both positive and negative — the judge’s mother said her daughter had her own opinion about that.
“She said it’ll die down and (everybody) will forget it,” Mary Donnelly said of the conversation with her daughter. “It will pass.”
Asked what her late husband Jack — a former Wright State University professor and Oakwood City Council member who died in 2003 — would think, Mary said: “I think he’d be very, very supportive of her and really think she did a good job.”
Ann Donnelly moved with her family to Oakwood when she was in third grade, and her father worked for A.O. Smith in Tipp City after a career with General Electric.
Her mother said Ann was a cheerleader, working on the school yearbook, and was in track and field, volleyball and drama, even later acting in “Pippin” at the University of Michigan.
Her mother said her daughter after getting her law degree at Ohio State University passed on being the first woman attorney at Dayton law firm Bieser, Greer and Landis in 1984 to see if she and her boyfriend would stay a couple.
They did, and now have two grown daughters, one of whom got married last year. As for the 95-2 Senate vote, Mary Donnelly said her daughter worried about the two “no” votes even after working her way up from a prosecutor to a state judge.
“She never lets the fact that she’s a judge alter her behavior,” Mary said. “She’s always very nice and she’s very easy going, and I think she’s always said she’s not political.”
Donnelly had a famous case as a prosecutor against two executives who stole from Tyco International and were convicted. The New York Times recounted Donnelly’s closing when she “at times seemed like a schoolteacher lecturing her students.”
The Times quoted numerous colleagues who touted Donnelly’s fairness.
Andrew M. Lankler, a partner at Baker Botts LLP, who served in the office from 1990 to 1996, told the newspaper. “She’s an extremely intelligent, deliberative and conscientious person uniquely unswayed by anything other than justice.”