Who Cares What Shoes Jonathan Majors’ Lawyer Wears?

Priya Chaudhry has represented men accused of rape and domestic violence. A recent profile handled her brutal, victim-blaming tactics with kid gloves.

Who Cares What Shoes Jonathan Majors’ Lawyer Wears?

Around 6 p.m. on Thursday, the New York Times published an investigation into disgraced actor Jonathan Majors’ history of abuse—including on-the-record interviews with two of his ex-girlfriends—as well as his alleged mistreatment of women on the set of HBO’s Lovecraft Country. One woman, who was engaged to Majors from 2015 to 2019, alleges that he choked her and threatened to kill her. Another, who dated him from 2013 to 2015, says that when she confronted Majors with evidence of him cheating, he threatened to kill himself.

The story is littered with predictably offensive statements of denial from Priya Chaudhry, the lawyer who represented Majors in his recent domestic violence trial. (He was found guilty of assault and harassment of his ex-partner Grace Jabbari and will be sentenced in April.) “These relationships were between young drama students and all began with mutual intensity,” she said. As for the woman who accused Majors of choking her, Chaudhry said her client is now “choosing to take responsibility for his own part in that toxic relationship, focusing on himself, and addressing his lifelong depression.”

Majors was accused and convicted of frightening abuse in December; evidence in the case included footage of Majors pushing Jabbari into a car, audio of him yelling at her, photos of injuries Jabbari said were at his hands, and text messages of him pleading with her not to go to the hospital after a fight. Chaudhry viciously attacked Jabbari as the case went on, accusing her of participating in a racist “witch hunt” against Majors. Prosecutors claimed that the legal team purposely leaked and misrepresented court evidence and even tried “to have police create a wanted poster with Jabbari’s photo.”

But earlier on Thursday, The Cut published a very curious profile of Chaudhry, which included details characteristic of a fluffy magazine piece, like that she favors bold prints. The story opens with a description of a large stuffed animal she uses to help her “stressed” and “desperate” clients relax. Chaudhry talks about how she’s witnessed systemic racism as a public defender, and interviews with colleagues from previous law firms underscore her work ethic. But the entire setup seems to not only humanize her, it comes disturbingly close to treating her like a girlboss. (She has her own law firm, which is the very first link in the article.)

There is value in learning about the lawyers of high-profile cases, sure, but the packaging on the piece seems to treat the subject matter like it was merely celebrity intrigue, even mentioning a real housewife in the original headline: “The Lawyer Behind Jonathan Majors and Jen Shah.” The sub-heading read like something close to praise: “Priya Chaudhry spars with her opponents like a bare-knuckle boxer—and does it in gold sneakers.”

Yes, at some point since publication, The Cut changed the headline. It now reads: “NYC’s Most Ruthless Defense Lawyer,” with the sub-hed: “Priya Chaudhry’s grilling of Jonathan Majors’s accuser shocked some watching his assault trial. She doesn’t care.”

That’s closer to an accurate representation of why Chaudhry is newsworthy. She’s now represented multiple male celebrities who lost their gender-based violence cases and the author says she visited Chaudhry’s office to talk about “how she’s developing a reputation as one of the go-to lawyers for men accused of misconduct.” If they were trying to underscore just how ruthless she is, the story held back a lot. But if the aim was instead to let the reader decide for themselves what kind of a person Chaudhry is, there probably needed to be less emphasis on her funky gold sneakers.

The story does note that Chaudhry’s aggressive tactics in questioning Jabbari on the stand backfired and led to the judge admitting previously sealed text messages—the texts where Majors asks her not to go to the hospital. But when asked about criticisms of her strategy, Chaudhry responded with an absolutely wild comment:

“Honestly, I don’t give a shit,” Chaudhry says of her haters. “The idea that I should coddle” Jabbari, she continues, feels like suggesting “I should coddle the woman who accused Emmett Till.”

The next line is not an explanation of the fact that Till was brutally murdered by a racist mob and that his mother chose an open casket funeral so people could see the mutilation, a situation completely unlike a woman credibly accusing their partner of assault—it is another quote from Chaudhry accusing Jabbari of lying.

Controversial figures can make for intriguing profiles, and everyone has a right to representation, but a better examination of Chaudhry would be to understand why someone who, in their own words, says they chose to be a defense lawyer because they “hate bullies,” feels that men credibly accused of rape, domestic violence, and sexual assault are the people getting bullied. The only explanation we get is that she believes women lie and that prosecutors bring forth sexual assault cases for political points.

The piece concludes by mentioning that Chaudhry is still fighting a PR battle on behalf of Majors, including helping arrange his recent appearance on Good Morning America, and that she thinks her approach will get her more clients. Is the entire story an attempt to show that she’s money-hungry? Are we meant to be rooting for Chaudhry? Against her? I’m truly not sure.

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