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Assistant U.S. Attorney Jamel Semper. Photo: LinkedIn.

Black ministers push for Semper to be next U.S. Attorney

Clergy says nomination of first Black federal prosecutor is ‘critical at a time when racial justice issues are front and center’

By David Wildstein, January 11 2021 3:55 pm

A group of seven politically influential Black ministers from across the state are advocating for Jamel Semper to become the next U.S. Attorney from New Jersey.

Semper is one of seven candidates on a short list to become the next federal prosecutor after Joe Biden assumes the presidency later this month.

The faith leaders – Rev. Kenneth Clayton of St. Luke’s Baptist Church in Paterson, Rev. Dr.  DeForest (Buster) Soaries, Jr. of First Baptist Church Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, Rev. Dr. Lester Taylor, of Community Baptist Church in Englewood, Rev. Dr. Collins Days of Second Baptist Church in Atlantic City, Rev. Dr. Ronald Slaughter of Saint James AME Church in Newark, Rev. Dr. Charles F. Boyer, Bethel AME Church in Woodbury, and Rev. Dr. Kimberly Credit of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Boonton – today said they are lifting their voices to encourage New Jersey’s two U.S. Senators to pick Semper.

“We recommend Jamel Semper as the next U.S. Attorney from New Jersey,” the ministers said. “He will be a historically and substantively significant pick for U.S. Attorney from New Jersey. Semper will make history as the first Black U.S. Attorney from New Jersey, which is critical at a time when racial justice issues are front and center.”

Semper, 39, became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in 2018 and heads the Organized Crimes and Gangs section.  Before that, he spent a decade as an assistant prosecutor in Essex and Union counties.

“We need his experience, credentials, and passion for justice for those who too often have been ignored,” the minister said. “Semper is connected and respected as a trusted arbitrator of justice among the grassroots Newark community.”

Traditionally, the U.S. Attorney post is filled by the senior United States Senator from the state, if that senator’s party occupies the White House.  Bob Menendez will make the recommendation to Biden after consultation with Cory Booker, the state’s junior senator.

“President Biden, with the counsel of Senator Menendez and his colleague Senator Booker, would instill hope and faith in our legal system with the selection of Jamel,” the seven clergymen stated.

The New Jersey Globe first reported on Friday that the other six candidates on the short list are experienced prosecutors.  -Henry Klingeman, Jenny Kramer, Phil Sellinger, Ricardo Solano, Jr., and Lee Vartan – served as Assistant U.S. Attorneys.  Esther Suarez is a former Superior Court Judge and the current Hudson County Prosecutor.

In lobbying Menendez, the ministers are pointing to their strong support of his re-election bid in 2018.

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