North Jersey political leaders praised the choices of Julien Neals and Zahid N. Quraish by President Joe Biden to the U.S. District Court. New Jersey’s six district court vacancies are second only to California’s and have been declared a “judicial emergency.”
Neals currently serves as County Counsel for Bergen County,, a position he has held since January 2015. Previously, in 2014 and from 1992 to 2006, he worked as an attorney practicing general litigation in state and federal courts at Chansan, Leyner & Lamparello, P.C. From 2006 until 2014, Neals worked for the City of Newark, serving as Business Administrator from 2010 to 2014, Corporation Counsel from 2008 until 2010, and Chief Judge of the Newark Municipal Court from 2006 to 2008.
Neals began his legal career as a law clerk to Judge Seymour Marguilies on the New Jersey Superior Court in Hudson County, from 1991 to 1992. He received his J.D. from Emory University School of Law in 1991 and his B.A. from Morehouse College in 1982.
Zahid N. Quraish
Quraishi was appointed as a United States Magistrate Judge for the District of New Jersey in the Trenton Vicinage on June 3, 2019. Quraishi, who is of Pakistani ancestry, is the first Asian-American to serve on the federal bench in New Jersey.
Prior to his appointment, he was Chair of Riker Danzig’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Investigations Group and his firm’s first Chief Diversity Officer. Before joining Riker, Quraishi served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey for over five years. He previously represented the United States as an Assistant Chief Counsel and trial attorney with the Department of Homeland Security. He also served as a military prosecutor and achieved the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps. In the Army, Quraishi was assigned to the First Infantry Division stationed in Germany and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2006 before he was honorably discharged.
Quraishi received his law degree from Rutgers Law School – Newark, where he was the Managing Business Editor of the Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal and a member of the Rutgers Moot Court Board
Below are a collection of statements from elected representatives in North Jersey
Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco, III
“I congratulate my colleague and friend Julien Neals on his recent nomination to the U.S. District Court. There is no person more deserving of this honor. Everyone who has had the opportunity to work with Julien knows he is a gentleman of great character, capability, and integrity, and he will serve the federal bench with fairness and distinction. This nomination is well overdue, and I applaud President Joe Biden and New Jersey Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez for moving it forward. On a personal note, I am lucky to have had Julien as an integral part of my administration for the past six and a half years. While bittersweet, Bergen County’s loss is truly our nation’s gain.”
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez
“President Biden has nominated two outstanding and highly qualified individuals to serve on the U.S. District Court of New Jersey in Julien Neals and Magistrate Judge Zahid Quraishi. They not only represent the best of New Jersey and our state’s values, but they reflect the state’s proud and rich diversity—critical elements for any effective judiciary sworn to uphold equal justice under the law. If confirmed, both nominees will uphold the highest ideals of our justice system. I applaud President Biden for making a bold statement with these nominations and I would encourage their swift confirmation.”
U.S. Senator Cory Booker
“Julien Neals and Zahid Quraishi are smart, experienced, and thoughtful attorneys who will both bring an exceptional commitment to fairness and impartiality to the federal bench. Mr. Neals has had a long and distinguished legal career and possesses an unwavering commitment to justice. Judge Quraishi, who would make history if confirmed as the first Muslim American federal judge, has defended and served our country with distinction in numerous roles. Their skills, experience, and unique perspectives are needed on the federal bench now more than ever. I look forward to their hearing before the Judiciary Committee and their confirmations by the full Senate.”
Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr.
“For generations, justice in America has been hobbled by the lack of diversity in our judiciary. This is not just diversity of race and ethnicity, and but diversity of experience and perspective. A bench dominated solely by jurists from the same law schools, the same law firms, and the same prosecutors’ offices has produced an unequal system in America. President Biden promised to upset for the better the balance of our federal courts and his first slate of nominees follows through on that promise. We cannot understate it: this revolutionary commitment to re-balance the judiciary will help remake justice in America. I am especially proud of the historic nominees for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, including Bergen County’s own Julien Neals and Zahid Quraishi who would serve as the first Muslim American on a federal district court.”
Gov. Phil Murphy
“President Biden’s nominations of Magistrate Judge Zahid Quraishi and Julien Neals to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey are not just welcome but historic. Over the last several years, the alarming number of vacancies on our district court has resulted in excessive caseloads and delays in administering justice. While vacancies will remain, knowing that two highly qualified nominees are on the way is both a welcome relief and a signal that President Biden and his team recognize that our bench must be filled. Moreover, with these nominations, President Biden is proving his commitment to ensuring that our bench is more diverse and reflective of our people. This work is shown, especially, with the elevation of Magistrate Judge Quraishi, who would be not just the first Asian-American to sit on the bench for the District of New Jersey, but also the first Muslim-American federal judge in our nation’s history. I congratulate both Magistrate Judge Quraishi and Mr. Neals on their nominations, and I congratulate President Biden on these historic choices.”