New Jersey may see its first Indian-American judge after defense attorney Sohail Mohammed became one of Governor Chris Christie's seven nominees for a Superior Court position.
Mohammed defended more than 30 detainees swept up by law enforcement after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Mohammed worked in the aftermath of the attacks to try to foster trust between American Muslims and law enforcement, particularly federal officials. He is a board member of the American Muslim Union. Christie was a regular guest at that group's annual Ramadan dinner and spoke highly of Mohammed's work.
Christie announced the nomination of Mohammed, 47, along with six other nominees for Superior Court judgeships. Mohammed, a defense attorney who emigrated from India at the age of 10 with his parents, would serve in Superior Court in Passaic County.
The New York Times reports Mohammed helped arrange a law enforcement job fair at a Paterson mosque in which young Muslims were encouraged to apply for jobs with law enforcement agencies. The session also featured a question-and-answer session for mosque members with the police and prosecutors.
Indiawest.com reports Mohammed graduated in 1988 with a degree in electrical engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, and then worked full-time for GEC-Marconi Electronic Systems while earning his law degree in night school at Seton Hall University's School of Law. Mohammed is also an executive board member of the New Jersey Bar Association.
He was named in 2009 by New Jersey Monthly magazine as one of the 101 most influential people in the state and as a New Jersey "Super Lawyer" for four years, beginning in 2006.
If confirmed, Mohammed will be the first Indian-American judge and the second Muslim judge in New Jersey. Last year, Hani Mawla was confirmed to the bench in Somerset County.
New Jersey has a significant Indian-American population, according to indianexpress.com.
Mohammed's nomination will next go to the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee, and be approved before it comes for a vote on the Senate floor. Mohammed said his confirmation hearings were theoretically being fast-tracked through the process, but added that he had no idea of the timeline.