Home » Superior Court Nominee Rose To Prominence As Key Voice Of N.J.’S Muslim Community

Superior Court Nominee Rose To Prominence As Key Voice Of N.J.’S Muslim Community

News From : DagangHalal.com (13 Feb 2011)

TRENTON, One of Gov. Chris Christie-s nominees for Superior Court judge isn’t the typical judicial hopeful.

The attorney doesn’t work for a big-name law firm. He holds a GED diploma. He practiced engineering for years before he thought about working in a courtroom.

Sohail Mohammed, 47, an immigrant from southern India, however, does have experience in dealing with law enforcement. Since graduating from Seton Hall University School of Law in 1993, Mohammed has risen to prominence as a key voice of the state-s Muslim community.

The regional office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation calls when questions arise about Muslim culture. He was a force behind passage of the state-s landmark halal food law in 2000, which pledged to help protect Muslim standards for food preparation. And in the aftermath of Sept. 11, he defended Muslim and Middle Eastern detainees swept up in the federal government-s dragnet.

Mohammed became a go-to source for local and national media seeking insight on how the Muslim-American community was affected by the response to the terrorist attacks.

And he caught Gov. Chris Christie’s attention, too.

Sohail worked effectively and very appropriately with the U.S. Attorney-s Office (of New Jersey) and the FBI in bridging relations and providing outreach with the Muslim community, said Michael Drewniak, spokesman for Gov. Christie. And he did it at a time when federal law enforcement in New Jersey needed someone like him to do that. But not everyone is praising Mohammed’s work.

Conservative bloggers and a well-known anti-terrorism advocate have blasted Christie for the nomination. They are concerned about the attorney’s public criticism of certain federal antiterrorism efforts and his representation of a local religious leader battling government accusations of terrorist ties.


Mohammed said he did not want to speak publicly before the confirmation process is complete. Gov. Christie formally nominated him earlier this year. The Senate Judiciary Committee will submit a recommendation on Mohammed- appointment to the full Senate, which has final say on his and the other nominees- futures. Often, that process isn-t smooth or quick. This is the third time Mohammed has started the tortuous route to join the state judiciary.

Sen. John Girgenti (D-Passaic) recommended him to Gov. Jon Corzine in 2007 for a Superior Court judgeship.

Mohammed didn-t make Corzine’s list. As the governor’s term neared its end last year, Corzine nominated Hany Mawla, a partner at the Iselin-based firm Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith and Davis, for a Superior Court position. Mawla, who served on the state Commission on Civil Rights and lectured on Middle East studies at Rutgers University, is considered the first Muslim Superior Court judge in New Jersey.

Gov. Christie gave Mohammed a second look last year. He nominated the Clifton attorney last fall, but the year ended without a Senate decision on the nominees, moving the governor to post Mohammed-s name again in January.

It’s still not a smooth road going ahead. There will be some bumps along the way, said retired judge Robert J. Passero, who has mentored Mohammed over the length of his career. He has a quiet confidence that it will work out.


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