WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today applauded the Senate’s swift confirmation of Julien X. Neals to fill one of six longstanding vacancies on the U.S. District Court of New Jersey.  Neals’ judicial appointment was approved by the Senate by a vote of 66-33.

“Mr. Neals is an outstanding nominee who has devoted his entire career to the practice of law in his home state of New Jersey.  Throughout his three decades in the legal profession, he served in many diverse roles.  Every step of the way, he has impressed those around him with his integrity, sound judgment, and commitment to equal justice and fair administration of the law,” said Sen. Menendez during a speech Monday on the Senate floor in which he called on the Senate to confirm Neals.  “There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Neals will be an asset to the U.S. District Court in New Jersey as it emerges from this pandemic and works to reduce its backlog of pending cases.  He was qualified to serve on the federal bench back in 2015, when President Obama first nominated him to the U.S. District Court in New Jersey. And he is even more qualified today.”

 

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New Jersey’s six district court vacancies are second only to California’s and have been declared a “judicial emergency.”  Six years of Republican obstructionism both in the Senate and White House have allowed those vacancies to go unfilled and the judicial emergency to fester. 

Julien Xavier Neals currently serves as County Counsel for Bergen County, New Jersey, 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.

There are three other nominations pending for the U.S. District Court of New Jersey.  On March 30, President Biden nominated Neals and Magistrate Judge Zahid N. Quraishi.  A confirmation hearing for both nominees was held last month before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  If confirmed, Quraishi would become the country’s first Muslim American federal judge.  On April 29, President Biden nominated attorney Christine P. O’HearnAttorney Karen M. Williams was nominated on May 12. 

Below are Sen. Menendez’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

M. President, it is with great urgency that I come to the floor to urge support for the confirmation of Julien Xavier Neals to the U.S. District Court in New Jersey.

 

The U.S. District of New Jersey is known as one of the busiest courts in the entire country. As of last year, more than 46,000 cases were pending before it – many of them among the most complex and challenging cases in the nation. 

 

Yet multiple judicial vacancies on the court have led the Judicial Conference of the United States to declare a judicial emergency.

 

The court is short-staffed by a third, leaving each of our seated judges with a mind-boggling caseload of 2,700 pending cases.

 

That’s a caseload more than three times higher than the national average.

 

Fortunately, this week the Senate has an opportunity to begin alleviating this judicial emergency by confirming Julien Neals to the U.S. District Court in New Jersey.

 

Mr. Neals is an outstanding nominee who has devoted his entire career to the practice of law in his home state of New Jersey.

 

Throughout his three decades in the legal profession, he served in many diverse roles. Every step of the way, he has impressed those around him with his integrity, sound judgment, and commitment to equal justice and fair administration of the law. 

 

He clerked on the Superior Court of New Jersey; practiced civil rights, employment discrimination, and intellectual property law as an associate and partner at a Secaucus-based firm; served the City of Newark during our colleague Senator Booker’s time as mayor; and, since 2015, has worked as Counsel for Bergen County, the most populous county in New Jersey.

 

Senator Booker still speaks glowingly of Mr. Neals’ achievements during his time as Chief Judge of the Newark Municipal Court, how he improved the efficiency and the culture of the institution, created the first community court in the state of New Jersey, and in less than two years presided over more than 6,000 cases while supervising 11 full-time judges.

 

There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Neals will be an asset to the U.S. District Court in New Jersey as it emerges from this pandemic and works to reduce its backlog of pending cases.

 

He was qualified to serve on the federal bench back in 2015, when President Obama first nominated him to the U.S. District Court in New Jersey. And he is even more qualified today.

 

Mr. Neals already commands enormous respect in our legal community—from serving on the Supreme Court of New Jersey’s Committee on Character and Fitness to serving as Chairman for Volunteer Lawyers for Justice—he personifies the meaning of public service. 

 

Mr. Neals’ tremendous breadth of experience, even temperament, and sound judgement make him a superb candidate to serve on the federal bench.

 

And clearly, our colleagues on the Judiciary Committee came to the same conclusion when they reported him out of committee by a large bipartisan margin.

 

New Jerseyans have waited far too long for the Senate to fill this vacancy and I urge my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to confirm Mr. Julien Neals without further delay.

 

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