Community stunned when body of first female Muslim judge is found in the Hudson River

The body of the first female Muslim appointed to the federal bench was found floating in New York’s Hudson River, authorities reported late on Wednesday.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, was found dead near 132nd Street and Hudson Parkway at around 1:45 PM, the New York Post reported.

Police were called when bystanders saw the body of a fully dressed woman floating in the water near the riverbank.

Judge Abdus-Salaam had been reported missing by her husband the day before she was found dead. He later identified her body.

Deepening the mystery, there were no signs of trauma that would indicate possible criminal activity or foul play, leading to speculation that the death may have been a suicide, the Post reported.

“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,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

“She was a pioneer,” Cuomo added. “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.”

Judge Abdus-Salaam, a Columbia Law School graduate, was not only the first Muslim woman appointed to the bench, she was also the first African-American woman appointed to the state Court of Appeals.

The judge served in the Appellate Division of the court until Gov. Cuomo appointed her to the Court of Appeals in May 2013.

Jonathan Lippman, the Chief Judge of the Court Appeals from 2009 to 2015, told the Post, “I’m deeply saddened at having lost a dear friend and colleague, and the court has suffered a terrible blow. 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 gentile, 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.”

Below is video of Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam discussing her life and professional experience:


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