Asylum Lawyer Gets Hollywood Treatment as 'Saint Judy'

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on February 05, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Los Angeles immigration lawyer who dedicated her life to trying difficult asylum cases is now getting what every Angeleno dreams of: a movie. Attorney Judy Wood will be the subject of a new biopic entitled Saint Judy.

The film will chronicle Wood's fight to protect immigrants and ease restrictions on asylum seekers. Here's a quick preview.

Saint? Really?

When Hollywood depicts lawyers, they aren't usually wearing halos or illuminated in divine light. Hell, in the mid-90's, when Al Pacino wanted to play Satan (literally), Hollywood cast him as a lawyer. But Saint Judy might be an appropriate name for a film about Woods -- not just because of her good works, but because of the spiritual "visions" that brought her to the law.

Wood's own attorney bio begins:

I came to immigration law as a result of a vision which was given to me in 1984. I saw hands reaching out of a jail cell and heard my name being called to help. The hands and voices were of Salvadoran political prisoners, who were stranded in El Salvador during the 1980's when the Civil War was raging.

Immediately I heeded the call and came to Los Angeles and began working with several refugee and immigrant agencies.

Woods' holy calling has been pretty successful, too. Early in her career, she fought her way up to the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Delara Nasseri, a female teacher who fled Afghanistan after being tortured by the mujahidin for opposing extremism and attempting to start a school for girls. That case helped ease the burden on immigrants seeking asylum due to political persecution.

Mr. Demille, I'm Ready for My Close Up

Wood has a fairly accomplished team behind her biopic. The film is written and directed by Sean Hanish, who is working with Paul Jaconi-Biery and Kelly Kahl. That's the same team who put together the film Return to Zero, a true story based on a couple's troubled pregnancy. (Sure, Return to Zero debuted on the Lifetime Channel, but it was also nominated for an Emmy.)

Wood is no stranger to her filmmakers, either. The screenplay was originally written by Dmitry Portnoy, who fell in love with Wood's story while interning with her law firm.

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