Julien X. Neals and Zahid N. Quraishi will appear before the Senate panel on April 28 as part of the first round of federal judicial nominees named by Biden since he took office on January 20.
Biden sent Neals and Quraishi to the Senate on March 30 after receiving recommendations from U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker.
President Barack Obama originally nominated Neals in February 2015, to replace retiring Judge Faith Hochberg. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved Neals in September, but McConnell never allowed the full Senate to vote on his confirmation.
Neals’ nomination sat idle for 677 days before the 114th Congress adjourned. Donald Trump’s election in 2016 ended Neals as a judicial candidate.
Prior to his nomination to serve as a federal judge, Neals held top posts in Newark while Booker was mayor. He was the chief municipal court judge, he city’s corporation counsel, and Newark business administrator.
Neals, 56, is currently serving as the Bergen County Counsel and acting county administrator. He’s been in Bergen for the last five years.
Quraishi served an U.S. Army JAG Corps officer and was deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2006. He was an Assistant U.S. Attorney and Riker Danzig partner before being named U.S. Magistrate Court Judge in 2019. He grew up in Fanwood and is a Pakistani American; he’ll be the New Jersey’s first Asian American District Court Judge.
President Donald Trump made no district court nominations in New Jersey during his four-year term, largely because Menendez and Booker would have used “blue slips” – a non-binding process senators sometimes use to torpedo the picks.
As a result, more than one-third of the federal judgeships in New Jersey are currently vacant, giving Menendez and Booker an ability to add six new U.S. District Court Judges this year and bring the total up to a full complement of seventeen.
Neals’ nomination will mean that Bergen County Executive James Tedesco and Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano will need to fill his dual roles as county counsel and acting county administrator.