- If confirmed, Rupa Ranga Puttagunta will become the first Asian American judge appointed to the U.S. District Court in D.C.; while Zahid. N. Quraishi, would be the first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history.
President Joe Biden has nominated Judge Rupa Ranga Puttagunta for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and Judge Zahid N. Quraishi for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. If confirmed, Puttagunta would become the first Asian American judge appointed to the U.S. District Court in D.C.; while Quraishi, a Pakistani American, would be the first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history.
“These nominees consist of attorneys who have excelled in the legal field in a wide range of positions, including as renowned jurists, public defenders, prosecutors, in the private sector, in the military, and as public servants at all levels of government,” Biden said, announcing the nominations on March 30.
Puttagunta currently serves as an Administrative Judge for the D.C. Rental Housing Commission. In that role, she resolves appeals taken from the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings, and assists with the commission’s rulemaking function, including issuing, amending, and rescinding regulations, as per the Judicial Nomination Commission. Prior to joining the commission in 2019, she was a solo practitioner from 2013 to 2019, representing indigent criminal defendants in trial and on appeal.
Before opening her own practice, she practiced family and appellate law at Delaney McKinney, LLP from 2012 to 2013. While working on domestic relations matters in private practice, Puttagunta also provided hundreds of hours of pro bono legal services by volunteering at D.C. Superior Court’s Family Court Self-Help Center and Attorney Negotiator Program and representing victims of domestic violence in D.C. Superior Court. She began her legal career as a law clerk for Judge William M. Jackson of the D.C. Superior Court from 2008 to 2010, as well as the Senior Judges of the D.C. Court of Appeals from 2010 to 2011.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Vassar College and Juris Doctor from the Ohio State Moritz College of Law, where she graduated as a Public Service Fellow with the Dean’s Special Recognition. Following law school, she clerked for the Honorable William M. Jackson on the D.C. Superior Court and the Senior Judges on the D.C. Court of Appeals.
Quraishi is 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. Prior to his appointment, he was a partner at Riker Danzig where he chaired the firm’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Investigations Group and served as his firm’s first Chief Diversity Officer. Before joining Riker Danzig, Quraishi served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey from 2008 to 2013.
Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s office, he served as an assistant chief counsel at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He also served as a military prosecutor and achieved the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, deploying to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2006.
Earlier in his career, Quraishi worked in private practice and clerked for Judge Edwin H. Stern, of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, from 2000 to 2001. As a native of New York City who was raised in Fanwood, NJ, Quraishi earned a degree in criminal justice from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice before attending Rutgers Law School in Newark from 1997-2000.
In law school, he served as managing business editor for the Computer & Technology Law Journal, and as a member of the Rutgers Moot Court Board. He also worked as a teaching assistant for the Legal Research and Writing course. After graduating from law school, Quraishi clerked for the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division and served as an associate at the law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.