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Hudson Valley Press

April 19th, 2017

Mourning the Loss of Judge Abdus-Salaam

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam
The National Bar Association mourns the loss of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a pioneering judge who became the first Muslim woman in US history to serve on the bench and the first African-American woman to be appointed to the New York Court of Appeals..

“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,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote in a statement Wednesday night. “She was a pioneer,” he said. “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. I was proud to appoint her to the state’s highest court and am deeply saddened by her passing.”

After receiving her degree from Columbia Law School, she began her legal career working as a staff attorney at East Brooklyn Legal Services. Abdus-Salaam rose through the state ranks before eventually being elected to the Supreme Court in 1993. She was then appointed to the Court of Appeals by Cuomo in 2013. Former US Attorney General Eric Holder, who went to Columbia with Abdus-Salaam, was in attendance for her historic swearing-in ceremony and described how she had “defined herself by her relentless pursuit of excellence”.

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