An appeals court judge who was the first Muslim African-American woman appointed to New York’s highest court has been found dead.
Police say the body of 65-year-old Sheila Abdus-Salaam was discovered just before 2pm on Wednesday along the Hudson River’s shore near Harlem, one day after being reported missing by her husband.
Police say her body showed no obvious signs of trauma. The medical examiner is to determine the exact cause of death.
Abdus-Salaam was appointed to the state’s Court of Appeals by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013. She graduated from Barnard College and received her law degree from Columbia School of Law.
Cuomo released a statement calling her a “trailblazing jurist”. He 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.”
Last August, Abdus-Salaam helped LGBTQ parents to seek the same parenting rights as biological parents, according to Lambda Legal, a New York-based nonprofit civil rights organisation.
“Judge Abdus-Salaam saw clearly how damaging it was to keep LGBT parents from their children,” the group wrote in a blog post. “We owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude. She touched the lives of many New Yorkers; her legacy will live on.”