The body of the associate judge of the New York Court of Appeals, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, was found floating in the Hudson river a few hours after being reported missing yesterday. She was the nation’s first female Muslim judge and the first African-American to sit on the New York Court of Appeals. She was 65 years old.
Unknown sources told the New York Post that there was no visible signs of trauma or foul play to the body, but police are currently investigating her death and are expected to give a statement with more information within the next few days.
Judge Abus-Salaam graduated in1974 from Barnard College and from Columbia Law School in 1977. Serving as the Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights for several years, she went on to work in the New York State Supreme Court. In 2013, Governor Cuomo nominated her for the New York Court of Appeals – for which she was unanimously approved.
Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman had this to say about the sudden death of his colleague:
“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.”
While there may be no signs of foul play as of yet, the rampant Islamophobic and racist sentiments cultivated and unleashed by the Trump administration – and the alarming spike in hate crimes in the United States since his election – means that until an autopsy is performed, we must remain suspicious.