Judge on NY's highest court found dead in Hudson River

- Police detectives retracing the final hours of a pioneering judge who turned up dead in the Hudson River in Manhattan have found no signs of foul play, supporting the belief it was a suicide, some law enforcement officials said

The judge broke gender, race, and religious barriers when she was named to New York's highest court was found dead Wednesday.

The NYPD Harbor Unit pulled the body of Associate Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, from the Hudson River near West 132 Street around 1:45 p.m., the department said.

Abdus-Salaam was believed to have been the first female Muslim judge in the nation.

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed her to the Court of Appeals in 2013, she became the first black woman on that court.

In a statement, Cuomo called Abdus-Salaam a "pioneer" and "trailblazing jurist" and was saddened by her death.

"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," Cuomo said. "On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies to her family, loved ones and colleagues during this trying and difficult time."

"Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her," Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said. "Sheila's smile could light up the darkest room. The people of New York can be grateful for her distinguished public service. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family, and we will miss her greatly."

Abdus-Salaam graduated from Barnard College and Columbia Law School. Before joining the high court, she was a justice in the Appellate Division.

Police said that her body showed no obvious signs of trauma. The medical examiner will work to determine the cause of death.

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