Summary: A New York judge was found dead in the Hudson River this week.
On Wednesday, a prominent New York judge was found dead, floating in the Hudson River. After an initial speculation of foul play, authorities stated that they believe she had taken her own life.
Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, was the first Muslim and first black woman in U.S. history to ever serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals. Her body was found floating in the Hudson River yesterday, and witnesses said that she was fully clothed when they spotted her before calling 9-1-1. According to The New York Post, sources said that she had been reported missing from her place in Harlem that morning.
After Adbus-Salaam was pulled from the water, her husband was called to identify the body. Sources told The New York Post that there were no signs of trauma that indicated criminal activity and that it appeared the prominent associate judge had committed suicide.
Adbus-Salaam graduated from Columbia Law School in 1977 before she took her first job as a staff attorney for Brooklyn Legal Services. She subsequently took a job as a civil rights attorney before she eventually transitioned to serving as a judge, starting in 1993. Before her appointment to the New York Court of Appeals in 2013, she was a New York Supreme Court Justice and a justice for the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Wednesday night, singing Abdus-Salaam’s praises. Governor Cuomo had personally appointed her to her most recent position on the Court of Appeals.
“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. Cuomo said. “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. I was proud to appoint her to the state’s highest court and am deeply saddened by her passing.”
At Columbia Law, Abdus-Salaam was a classmate of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who described her as a professional with a “relentless pursuit of excellence.” On a personal note, he described her as a great dancer who was fun and witty.
Other legal professionals such as lawyers and judges shared with The New York Post their feelings about their beloved colleague.
“I’m deeply saddened at having lost a dear friend and colleague, and the court has suffered a terrible blow,” Jonathan Lippman, who served as the chief judge of the state Court of Appeals from 2009 to 2015, said. “She was a superb jurist and an even more superb human being. I knew her for many, many years. To some degree, we grew up together in the court. I’ve known her in all her different roles in the court. It’s just so shocking. She was a very genteel, lovely lady and judge. If you ask anyone about her, people would say only the most wonderful things. That’s why it makes it even more difficult to understand.”
Photo courtesy of Mic
Source: New York Post