NY appeals court judge found dead on Hudson River shore

Apr 14, 2017, 01:28

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, an associate judge on NY state's highest court and the first African-American woman to serve on that bench, was found dead Wednesday in the Hudson River, authorities said.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam was found floating, fully clothed, in the water near uptown Manhattan several hours after she was reported missing from her home in Harlem. "The cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner", an NYPD spokesperson told the Guardian.

Abdus-Salaam was appointed to the state's Court of Appeals by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013.

"As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state's Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer", Cuomo said in the emailed statement.

Police removed her body from the Hudson River and transferred her to a nearby Fire Department on West 125th Street.

The first African-American woman to serve on NY state's highest court - a judge described as a trailblazer and "humble pioneer" - was found dead Wednesday afternoon in the Hudson River.

The former United States attorney general Eric Holder was a friend and Columbia classmate, and attended her court of appeals swearing-in ceremony.

Abdus-Salaam was born in Washington in 1952. The 65-year-old Manhattan resident was now serving on the New York State Court of Appeals.

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said her colleague will be "missed deeply". In one of her first cases, she won an anti-discrimination suit for more than 30 female New York City bus drivers who had been denied promotions.

The early part of her career was spent working as an attorney, including an eight-year stint as assistant attorney general in the state Department of Law, Civil Rights and Real Estate Financing bureaus. "She was a lovely genteel lady", said former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

"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.

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