First Black NY State Court Justice Shiela Abdus-Salaam Found Dead

The body of first black NY State Court Justice Shiela Abdus-Salaam found floating in Hudson River

The 65-year-old Manhattan resident was the first African-American woman to serve on the New York State Court of Appeals. She was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013, reporting NBC New York.

Abdus-Salaam was elected to the Supreme Court of the State of New York in 1993, where she remained until 2009.


Cuomo released a statement calling her a “pioneer” and 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,” Cuomo said.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, said in a statement he was “shocked and saddened” to hear of her death, calling her “a dedicated public servant who served New York with honor and distinction as the first African-American woman to sit on the Court of Appeals.”

A Washington, D.C. native, Abdus-Salaam graduated from Barnard College with a degree in economics in 1974 and went on to receive her law degree from Columbia University in 1977 as a Charles Evans Hughes Fellow.

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