The Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Google has a judge: Obama appointee Amit Mehta, who was assigned the case Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
He went to elite U.S. universities, clerked for an appellate court judge and worked for both a D.C. law firm with high-profile clients and as a public defender attorney for low-income clients. As a judge, he’s ruled that lawmakers should get the president’s financial records and has sprinkled his music appreciation into opinions.
Mehta was appointed to the court in December 2014 and sworn in in 2015. Notable rulings include one in 2019 saying that lawmakers should get their subpoenaed financial records of President Donald Trump. The Supreme Court sent that case back to a lower court and it is ongoing. He also dealt with a food-industry antitrust case early in his tenure, temporarily blocking a $3.5 billion Sysco deal for US Foods after regulators opposed the deal. The companies scrapped it days later.
He’s a hip-hop lover, according to his judicial writings. In a footnote to a 2015 opinion involving a copyright claim, the judge said he did not need expert testimony to determine that two songs were “not substantially similar” because he was not “an ordinary ‘lay person’ when it comes to hip-hop music and lyrics,” having “listened to hip hop for decades” and counting among his favorites Jay Z, Kanye West, Drake and Eminem. He also cited lyrics from the Beyoncé song “Sorry,” from her classic album “Lemonade,” in a 2018 opinion on another copyright case.
He had previously been a lawyer focused on criminal defense and business disputes for a D.C. law firm, Zuckerman Spaeder, where he represented clients such as the former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, in a civil suit brought by Nafissatou Diallo, the housekeeper Strauss-Kahn had been accused of raping; they settled after the criminal case was dropped. He also represented a lawyer involved in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill claims litigation.
Previously, he worked as a staff attorney at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia and clerked for a judge on the Ninth Circuit appeals court.
Born in India, Mehta came to the U.S. as a young child. He earned his undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in 1993 and graduated from the University of Virginia’s law school in 1997.