Her family identified her and an autopsy would determine the cause of death, the spokesman said. Abdus-Salaam, a native of Washington, DC, became the first African-American woman appointed to the Court of Appeals when Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo named her to the state's high court in 2013. "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," Cuomo said in a statement. The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History said Abdus-Salaam was the first female Muslim to serve as a US judge.
Citing unidentified sources, the New York Post reported that Abdus-Salaam had been reported missing from her New York home earlier yesterday. Attempts to reach her family were unsuccessful. A graduate of Barnard College and Columbia Law School, Abdus-Salaam started her law career with East Brooklyn Legal Services and served as a New York state assistant attorney general, according to the Court of Appeals website. She held a series of judicial posts after being elected to a New York City judgeship in 1991.