Sheila Abdus-Salaam
Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a judge on New York's highest court. (Courtesy of

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a D.C. native who was an associate judge on New York state’s highest court and the first African-American woman to serve on that bench, was found dead April 12 in the Hudson River, a day after she was reported missing.

The New York Police Department’s Harbor Unit responded about 1:45 p.m. after receiving a report of a person floating by the shore near West 132nd Street in upper Manhattan.

Abdus-Salaam, 65, was then collected and taken to a pier on the Hudson River and pronounced dead by paramedics a little after 2 p.m.

Police officials and Abdus-Salaam’s husband are asking the public to help try and track the movements of the judge right before she was found.

Authorities are investigating the death as a homicide.

Police are unsure how she ended up in the river, stating that body had no signs of trauma and that she was fully clothed.

An autopsy was inconclusive.

“I now join with the NYPD in asking anyone in the neighborhood to step forward with any information that might help us determine what may have happened during those hours before her death,” her husband, Gregory A. Jacobs, an Episcopal priest, said in a statement.

Since 2013, Abdus-Salaam had been one of seven judges on the state Court of Appeals. Before that, she served for four years as an associate justice on the First Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court, and for 15 years as a State Supreme Court justice in Manhattan.

Abdus-Salaam, who attended Columbia Law School, Barnard College and Columbia University, is survived by her husband.

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Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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