Abdus-Salaam, whose body was found in the river close to Harlem, was associate judge of New York’s highest court.
A mysterious death:
Pioneer Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, the first Muslim woman to serve as a US judge, was found dead in Hudson River in New York.
According to a police spokesman, Abdus-Salaam’s body was found floating near Harlem at around 1:45pm local time. She was an associate judge of New York’s highest court.
Her fully clothed body was pulled from the water fully clothed and was pronounced dead at the scene. Police refused to guess the cause of her death but stated that her body had no obvious signs of trauma.
Police spokesman said that she had been identified by her family, and that the cause of death will be determined after doing an autopsy.
The Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo named Abdus-Salaam to the state’s highest court in 2013, making her the first African American woman appointed to the court of appeals.
In a statement, Cuomo said: “Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all.
“As the first African American woman to be appointed to the state’s court of appeals, she was a pioneer. Through her writings, her wisdom and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come.”
Abdus-Salaam wasn’t only the first black woman appointed to the state’s highest court but also the first Muslim woman to serve as a US judge, according to the Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History.
The New York Post cited unidentified sources claiming that Abdus-Salaam had been reported missing from her New York home earlier on Wednesday.
Abdus-Salaam graduated from Barnard College and Columbia Law School. She started her career with East Brooklyn Legal Services and served as a New York state assistant attorney general. She was elected to a New York City judgeship in 1991, and held a series of judicial posts afterwards.
Janet DiFiore, the chief judge, said her colleague would be “missed deeply”. She added: “Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her.”
Jonathan Lippman, former chief judge said: “The court has suffered a terrible blow,” adding that her death of was “difficult to understand”.