First Black Muslim Woman Judge Found Dead In US River
Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who became the first Muslim woman in US history to serve as the New York State Court of Appeals , was found dead Wednesday, washed up on the Manhattan side of the Hudson River, New York Post has reported.
65-year-old Abdus-Salaam was discovered floating in the water near 132nd Street and Hudson Parkway around 1:45 p.m., according to police sources.
Witnesses had spotted her fully clothed body and called 911, cops said.
A New York Police Department spokesman said that police responded to an emergency call the afternoon of 12 April 2017, and upon arrival police found an unidentified female “unresponsive and unconscious” in the water. According to the New York Post, her husband had reported her missing earlier in the day. He later identified her body.
“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,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote in a statement Wednesday night.
“She was a pioneer,” he said. “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. I was proud to appoint her to the state’s highest court and am deeply saddened by her passing.”
According to reports, Abdus-Salaam showed no obvious signs of trauma or injuries indicating criminality or foul play, and that her death appeared to be a suicide. She earned a considerable amount of respect from her colleagues:
Veteran New York trial lawyer Robert Kelner, who first met Abdus-Salaam 20 years ago at a Columbia Law School event, called the judge “a brilliant person.”
“This was a person who really made an enormous effort to be a very down the middle jurist who would judge issues as it came to her,” Kelner said. “I don’t think she had a leaning toward one side or the other.”
Kelner said the judge’s personality at Columbia functions was “both serious and warm.” He added: “I don’t know anyone who would not have liked her.”
Abdus-Salaam was elected to the state’s Supreme Court in 1993.