First US female Muslim judge found dead in New York's Hudson River

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a native of Washington DC, became the first African American woman appointed to the court of appeals when New York's then Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo named her to the state's highest court in 2013.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

New York's former Governor Mario Cuomo had described Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam as "a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all."

A groundbreaking black jurist, who became the first Muslim woman to serve as a US judge, was 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 at about 1:45pm local time (1545 GMT), a police spokesperson said.

Police pulled Abdus-Salaam's fully clothed body from the water and she was pronounced dead at the scene. Her family identified her and an autopsy will determine the cause of death, the spokesperson said.

Abdus-Salaam, a native of Washington DC, became the first African American woman appointed to the court of appeals after New York's then-Governor Mario Cuomo, a Democrat, named her to the state's top court in 2013.

She was the first female Muslim to serve as a US judge.

Citing unidentified sources, the New York Post reported that Abdus-Salaam had been reported missing from her New York home earlier on Wednesday. Attempts to reach her family were unsuccessful.

A graduate of 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, according to the Court of Appeals website.

She held a series of judicial posts after being elected to a New York City judgeship in 1991.