Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a trailblazing judge, found dead in Hudson River

Remigio Civitarese
Aprile 16, 2017

Abdus-Salaam became the first black woman appointed to the New York Court of Appeals in 2013, as appointed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo to the state's high court.

A native of Washington DC, Abdus-Salaam began her career with East Brooklyn Legal Services before taking on the mantle of New York State's assistant attorney general. According to The New York Times, a law enforcement officialclaimed that her body showed no signs of trauma or struggle.

Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam looks on as members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee vote unanimously to advance her nomination to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y.

She was appointed to the Court of Appeals by Cuomo in 2013.

Police are struggling to piece together a timeline of events between Tuesday morning, when the judge was last in contact with someone, and when her body was found, Boyce said.

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies to her family, loved ones and colleagues during this trying and hard time", Cuomo's statement read. The city medical examiner will determine her cause of death.

Her fully clothed body was pulled from the water fully clothed and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Speaking to reporters about the death of Sheila Abdus-Salaam, New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce declined to answer questions about whether she took her own life.

Cuomo released a statement calling her a "pioneer" and a "force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come". She was also the United States' first Muslim judge.

"During her time on the bench, Justice Abdus-Salaam earned the respect of all who appeared before her as a thoughtful, thorough, and fair jurist", New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.

The body of Abdus-Salaam, a 65-year-old judge described as a trailblazer and "humble pioneer", was found Wednesday afternoon in the Hudson River.

"She was a lovely genteel lady", said former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

She grew up in a working-class family and first worked as a public defender before graduating from Columbia law school in 1977.

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