An African-American jurist who became the first Muslim to serve as a US judge found dead in New York’s Hudson river on Wednesday, police said.
Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a 65-year-old associate judge of New York’s highest court was found floating off Manhattan’s west side on Wednesday afternoon, a day after she was reported missing.
Police pulled Abdus Salaam’s full clothed body from the water and announced her dead on the spot.
Police said her body showed no sign of trauma and they declined to speculate about the cause of her death. Her family identified her and an autopsy would determine the cause of her death, the spokesman said.
Abdus-Salaam, a native of Washington DC, became the first African-American appointed to the Court of Appeals when Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo named her to the state’s high court in 2013.
Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist and a force for good.
On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies. https://t.co/hnic07Shp1
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) April 12, 2017
“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,” Mr Cuomo said in a statement.
“As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state’s Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer,” he added. “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.”
“Deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Sheila Abdus-Salaam. She was a humble pioneer. My thoughts are with her family,” said Bill de Blasio, the New York mayor, on Twitter.
Abdus-Salaam was the first female Muslim to serve as a US judge, the Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History said.
Deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Sheila Abdus-Salaam. She was a humble pioneer. My thoughts are with her family.
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 13, 2017
“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,” Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said.
Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said he knew Abdus-Salaam for many years and her death was “difficult to understand.”
Judge Abdus-Salaam’s death is a tragic loss for all of New York. Our hearts go out to all who knew her. https://t.co/ChKn8Hy7OX
— Lambda Legal (@LambdaLegal) April 13, 2017
“The court has suffered a terrible blow,” he said.
According to the Court of Appeals website, she graduated from Barnard College and Columbia Law School. Abdus-Salaam started her law career with East Brooklyn Legal Services and served as a New York state assistant attorney general.
Source: The Telegraph