Police are investigating the sudden death of respected Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam as a possible suicide.
According to the New York Times, Judge Abdus-Salaam, who was the first woman to be appointed to New York State’s highest court and the first female Muslim judge in the country, was found dead in the Hudson River on Wednesday.
There were no apparent signs of trauma, and police now believe the judge took her own life.
A police source told the New York Daily News that Judge Abdus-Salaam had been struggling with depression. It is not yet known if she left a suicide note.
The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the specific cause of death.
The pioneering judge was a champion of social justice and highly respected for what Governor Andrew Cuomo described as an “unshakable moral compass.”
Judge Abdus-Salaam was known for siding with injured and disenfranchised individuals versus the rich and powerful. She also wrote a decision last year that expanded parental rights to non-biological parents in same-sex couples.
According to the New York Times, Judge Abdus-Salaam called her Manhattan office on Tuesday to say she would not not be coming to work because she was not feeling well. When she did not appear on Wednesday, a colleague contacted her husband, Rev. Gregory Jacobs — who the judge married this past June — and he reported her missing.
The judge’s body was found on the edge of the Hudson River in Harlem later that day.
Those who know Judge Adbus-Salaam are struggling to process the possibility that she took her own life.
“I could not imagine her doing anything to herself to harm herself,” her neighbor, Pat Miller, told the New York Daily News. “She’s not that type of person … I’d like to know what happened. I would really like to know.”
Photo: Associated Press