US & Canada

Senior New York judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam found dead in Hudson River

Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam (file) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Justice Abdus-Salaam was described as a a "trailblazing jurist"

US judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first black woman to serve in New York's highest court, has been found dead in the city's Hudson River.

New York police said they pulled the 65-year-old from the water and pronounced her dead on Wednesday after being alerted by an emergency call.

Her husband had reported her missing, police said.

They are reportedly treating the death as a possible suicide but an investigation is ongoing.

The body was fully clothed and showed no signs of trauma or criminality, police said.

Her husband told police she had not been heard from since Tuesday morning.

'Trailblazing'

Born Sheila Turner in Washington DC in 1952, she graduated from Columbia Law School and worked for low-income people in Brooklyn before later serving as a New York state assistant attorney general.

She was widely reported to have been the country's first female Muslim judge. However her surname, which she kept for her career, came from her first husband. The New York Times quotes Court of Appeals spokesman Gary Spencer as saying she had told him that she was not Muslim.

Ms Abdus-Salaam was appointed to the New York Court of Appeals by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013.

"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," Mr Cuomo said in a statement.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called her death "an enormous loss for New York, our judiciary, and all who knew, respected and loved her".

He described her in a statement as a "thoughtful, thorough and fair jurist".

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