The body of the United States’ first ever female Muslim judge was found dead Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.
Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who served as an associate judge of the Court of Appeals and as the first U.S. African-American to serve there, had been reported missing earlier in the day, reports the New York Post.
Witnesses spotted the 65-year-old’s body in the Hudson river near 132nd Street and Hudson Parkway, police sources told the Post.
The Hill reports:
Police are still investigating.
Abdus-Salaam worked as an attorney at East Brooklyn Legal Services after graduating from Columbia Law School.
Abdus-Salaam continued to rise in the ranks until she was elected to the New York Supreme Court in 1993, and then appointed to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) 20 years later in 2013.
“I’m deeply saddened at having lost a dear friend and colleague, and the court has suffered a terrible blow,” said Jonathan Lippman, who once served as the chief judge of the state Court of Appeals from 2009 to 2015.
“She was a superb jurist and an even more superb human being,” he continued. “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 … 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.”