First Muslim federal judge confirmed in U.S. history

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Judge Zahid N. Quraishi. Photo: courtesy Riker Danzig

The United States Senate confirmed the first Muslim judge in the history of this country June 10, 2021.

Zahid Quraishi, 46, was officially nominated by President Joe Biden April 19, to the bench of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The Senate Judiciary Committee held his hearing April 28. He was recommended for the federal bench by U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and Cory Booker, D-NJ.

Quraishi was confirmed by a vote of 81-16 in the Democratic majority Senate, obviously with considerable Republican support. Thirty two Republicans voted for Quraishi.

Born in New York City to parents of Pakistani origin, Quraishi is currently a United States Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, a position he was appointed to in 2019.

According to his bio on the Rutgers Law, the school where he earned his law degree in 2000, Quraishi did his bachelor’s from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1997.

Prior to his appointment as N.J. Magistrate Judge, Quraishi was chair of Riker Danzig’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Investigations Group and his firm’s first Chief Diversity Officer.  His practice focused on white collar criminal defense, internal corporate investigations, and complex civil litigation.

During his private practice, he represented clients with government enforcement and compliance issues involving potential criminal charges.

He regularly managed complex federal and state court litigation on behalf of corporations, and their officers, directors, and employees.

Quraishi has represented both companies and individuals in connection with criminal investigations involving violations of securities law, healthcare fraud, money laundering, computer crimes, environmental statutes, public corruption, and tax laws among other white-collar areas of law.  His practice also extended to representing both corporations and individuals in complex federal and state civil litigation.

As Chief Diversity Officer, Zahid provided leadership in advancing the firm’s diversity and inclusion values, and assumed overall responsibility for overseeing its diversity and inclusion goals, the bio says.

Before joining Riker, Zahid 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 tried numerous federal criminal cases involving public corruption, financial fraud, perjury, firearms and narcotics offenses within the Special Prosecutions Division and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and Government Fraud Units of the Criminal Division.

Quraishi served in the Department of Homeland Security prior to that, as Assistant Chief Counsel and trial attorney.

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.

In the early stages of his career, Quraishi worked as a litigation associate at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, LLP and clerked for Presiding Judge Edwin H. Stern of the Superior Court of New Jersey – Appellate Division (now retired),

Quraishi has served as a trustee of several prominent organizations including the Association of the Federal Bar of New Jersey, the Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of New Jersey, and the United States Attorney’s Office Alumni Association (DNJ).

He has been recognized in his legal field by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business as one of the country’s leading white collar lawyers, Best Lawyers in America®, a peer review of U.S. lawyers, and “Super Lawyers” by Thomson Reuters.  Most recently in 2019, Zahid received APALA-NJ’s Professional Achievement Award, South Asian Bar Association’s Standing Ovation Award, and NJMLA’s Trailblazer of the Year Award.

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