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America's first female Muslim judge found dead on New York riverbank

Sheila Abdus-Salaam was also the first black woman to be appointed to New York’s highest court.

Image: Mike Groll/AP Photo

THE FIRST MUSLIM woman to be appointed as a judge in the US has been found dead on the banks of the Hudson River in New York City.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam was reported missing on Tuesday, and her body was discovered near Harlem yesterday.

Local police said her body showed no obvious signs of trauma, and they declined to speculate on the cause of her death. A post-mortem examination is due to take place.

As well as being the first Muslim woman to be elected as a judge in the US, Abdus-Salaam, 65, was also the first black woman to be appointed to the New York’s Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state.

Leading city figures such as New York Mayor Bill de Blasio led tributes to Abdus-Salaam, with others calling her “a pioneer”, with an “unshakeable moral compass”, who will be “missed deeply”.

Abdus-Salaam graduated from Barnard College and received her law degree from Columbia Law School.

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She started her career as a staff attorney for East Brooklyn Legal Services, and served as a judge in Manhattan state Supreme Court for 14 years, according to the state court’s website.

Sheila Abdus Salaam, Craig Alfred, Rachel Kretser Abdus-Salaam receives applause after her confirmation to serve on the Court of Appeals in 2013. Source: Mike Groll/AP Photo

The president of the New York State Bar Association, Claire P Gutekunst, said Abdus-Salaam grew up poor in a family of seven children in Washington, DC, and “rose to become one of the seven judges in New York’s highest court, where her intellect, judicial temperament and wisdom earned her wide respect.”

With reporting from the Associated Press

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Sean Murray

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