A former special attorney for the State of Minnesota during the prosecution of police officer Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd has been named director of the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, Attorney General Matt Platkin announced today.
Sundeep Iyer, the son of immigrants from India and one of a small number of people to clerk for three U.S. Supreme Court Justices, succeeds Rachel Wainer Apter, who held the post from 2018 until her confirmation as an Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court in October.
“Sundeep is a brilliant attorney who has used his considerable talents to champion the cause of equal justice, including by working as a special attorney for the prosecution in the trial for George Floyd’s murder,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “I know Sundeep will fight tirelessly to safeguard the rights of all New Jersey residents.”
In his announcement, Platkin said that that the enforcement of the state’s civil rights laws remains a priority for him and the Murphy administration.
“As the rate of bias incidents rises across our state and our country, and as we confront systemic inequalities like housing discrimination that plague our society, we must continue to work tirelessly to protect the civil rights of every person in New Jersey,” Platkin said. “Sundeep has an extraordinary commitment to equality and social justice, and he has the vision and skills necessary to lead the Division as we work to protect the civil rights of our residents.”
The 33-year-old Iyer had been a member of Platkin’s leadership team, serving as Assistant Attorney General and as Senior Counsel to the Attorney General. As an associate at a New York law firm, Hogan Lovells, he had also been part of the team that won an injunction against then-President Donald Trump’s travel ban and represented death-row inmates in a federal court challenge to the lethal injection protocol advocated by the Trump administration.
Iyer is also a voting rights advocate. He represented community organiations defending the use of Ranked Choice Voting for the 2021 New York City elections, and directed statistical research on issues related to campaign finance, redistricting and viting rights for the Brennan Center for ustice at New York University Law School. He received a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans grant while attending Yale law school
The Essex County resident clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justices David Souter and Stephen Breyer, and for then-U.S. Court of Appeals Judge for the D.C. Circuit Brett Kavanaugh. He is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School
New Jersey NAACP President Richard Smith applauded the appointment of Iyer, saying his organization will work with him our joint efforts to protect New Jerseyans from unfair treatment and discrimination in all facets of life, whether that be housing, employment, education, etc., since these rights are paramount and at the core of our democracy.”
Iyer also won praise from New Jersey Planned Parenthood Action Fund executive director Jackie Cornell, and from Adam Gordon, the executive director of the Fair Share Housing Center.
“Sundeep displays a true commitment to protecting the reproductive rights of all New Jerseyans,” Cornell said.