The Groundbreaking Life and Mysterious Death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam

April 24, 2017 9:13 am
What We Know About the Mysterious Death of Sheila Abdus-Salaam
(Abdallah Issa/Flickr)
What We Know About the Mysterious Death of Sheila Abdus-Salaam
(Abdallah Issa/Flickr)


Earlier this month, Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American woman named to New York’s Court of Appeals, was found dead in the Hudson River.

Although initially assumed to be a suicide, her death is now being treated as “suspicious.”

In a recent article, the New York Post tried to find clues as to how or why Abdus-Salaam could’ve ended up drowned in the Hudson.

Despite humble beginnings, Abdus-Salaam had carved out a wide-ranging, successful career as a lawyer and judge—but not with some major stumbling blocks along the way. The 65-year-old Abdus-Salaam had graduated from Columbia Law in ’77, and early in her career, had fought tenaciously for immigrants and the underprivileged. She had also recently decided a major ruling in favor of visitation rights for non-biological parents in a same-sex marriage.

Per the Post, April had a bittersweet significance to the judge: It was the same month that Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed her to the Court of Appeals in 2013, but the previous April, her mother had died, and the following April, her brother had committed suicide.

While there are still many questions to be answered, one thing is true: The judge’s unexplained death is a major tragedy.

Below, watch an interview with Abdus-Salaam from 2014.



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