Sheila Abdus-Salaam

  (Redirected from Sheila Turner)

Sheila Abdus-Salaam (née Turner; March 14, 1952 – April 12, 2017) was an American lawyer and judge. In 2013, after having served on the New York City Civil Court, the New York Supreme Court, and the Appellate Division, Abdus-Salaam was nominated to the New York Court of Appeals (New York's highest court) and was unanimously confirmed as an Associate Judge by the New York State Senate. She was the first African-American female judge to serve on the New York Court of Appeals.

Sheila Abdus-Salaam
Sheila Abdus-Salaam.jpg
Abdus-Salaam speaking at Barnard College
Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
In office
May 6, 2013 – April 12, 2017
Appointed byAndrew Cuomo
Preceded byTheodore Jones
Succeeded byPaul G. Feinman
Personal details
Born
Sheila Turner[1]

(1952-03-14)March 14, 1952[1]
Washington, D.C., U.S.
DiedApril 12, 2017(2017-04-12) (aged 65)[2]
New York City, U.S.
Alma materBarnard College
Columbia Law School

Early life and educationEdit

Sheila Turner was born on March 14, 1952, in Washington, D.C., where she grew up in a working-class family with six siblings. She attended public schools there.[3][4] While researching her family history as a child, she learned that her great-grandfather was a slave in Virginia.[4]

Turner obtained a bachelor's degree from Barnard College in 1974 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 1977.[5][6] Among her classmates at Columbia was Eric Holder, the future United States Attorney General.[4]

CareerEdit

Turner took her first husband's surname, Abdus-Salaam, and retained it during her professional career.[7][8]

Before joining the bench, Abdus-Salaam worked as a staff attorney for Brooklyn Legal Services and served in the New York State Department of Law as an assistant attorney general in the civil rights and real estate financing bureaus.[5][3][6] She subsequently served on the New York City Civil Court, from 1992 to 1993.[6] Abdus-Salaam was elected a Justice of the New York Supreme Court in 1993,[9] and served in that capacity from 1993 to 2009.[8] In 2009, she was designated as a Justice of the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court, First Judicial Department by Governor David Paterson.[10] She served as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division from 2009 until 2013.[6]

On April 5, 2013, following the death of New York Court of Appeals Judge Theodore T. Jones, Abdus-Salaam was nominated by Governor Andrew Cuomo to fill the resulting vacancy on New York's highest court.[11] She was confirmed by the New York State Senate without opposition[9] in a voice vote held May 6, 2013.[12] She became the first female African-American judge to serve on the New York Court of Appeals.[13]

Abdus-Salaam was seen as a liberal voice on the bench.[14] In 2016, she authored the opinion of the Court in In Re Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A. C.C., a landmark decision allowing the domestic partners of biological parents to seek child custody or visitation in circumstances where the partners had decided to conceive and raise a child together.[4][14]

Personal lifeEdit

Abdus-Salaam's second husband, James Hatcher, was the son of Andrew Hatcher, who worked as a press officer for John F. Kennedy.[15] Her third husband was Hector Nova, from whom she was divorced in 2005.[16] Abdus-Salaam married her fourth husband, Episcopal priest Gregory A. Jacobs, in June 2016.[17]

Abdus-Salaam's religious affiliation has been the subject of conflicting reports.[13][7] While it was widely reported that Abdus-Salaam was the first Muslim to serve as a judge of the New York Court of Appeals,[18] it appears that these reports were incorrect. Following Abdus-Salaam's death, Court of Appeals spokesperson Gary Spencer stated that she had never converted to Islam, but had merely retained the last name of her first husband.[7] However, in an article on Abdus-Salaam's death, NBC News described Abdus-Salaam as "the first Muslim woman to serve as a U.S. judge" and added that her family asserted that she "[had] not been a practicing Muslim for 20 years".[8]

DeathEdit

Abdus-Salaam was found dead near West 132nd Street in Manhattan on the afternoon of April 12, 2017. Her fully clothed body was found floating in the Hudson River hours after she was reported missing from her home in Harlem.[2][19]

On April 13, police stated that the death of Abdus-Salaam appeared to be a suicide, and added that she had been struggling with depression.[20] On April 18, however, police told reporters that the death was considered "suspicious" due to the lack of witnesses and lack of a suicide note.[21] An autopsy, while reaching no conclusion about the cause of Abdus-Salaam's death, found bruises on her neck and water in her lungs; this data indicated that she had likely been alive when she entered the river. The bruising could have been caused by someone choking Abdus-Salaam, or could have resulted from the recovery of her body from the river.[22][23] On April 21, police said they had recovered video from the night of April 11 that showed Abdus-Salaam, dressed in the clothes in which she was found dead, walking around Riverbank State Park along the Hudson River for hours. Police added that the final images captured by the camera showed her standing near the water.[22]

On May 3, the New York Police Department announced that its investigation into the death of Abdus-Salaam was complete, and that investigators believed she had committed suicide.[24][25] The medical examiner concluded that the cause of death was drowning and that the manner of death was suicide.[26]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Sheila Abdus-Salaam profile". Appellate Division – First Judicial Department. Supreme Court of the State of New York. Archived from the original on April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Adams Otis, Ginger; Annese, John; Slattery, Denis (April 12, 2017). "Appeals court judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam found dead on Hudson River shore". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on April 18, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Frehse, Rob; Park, Madison (April 13, 2017). "Sheila Abdus-Salaam, a trailblazing judge, found dead in Hudson River". CNN. Archived from the original on April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Haag, Matthew; Rashbaum, William K. (April 12, 2017). "Sheila Abdus-Salaam, Judge on New York's Top Court, Is Found Dead in Hudson River". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "United States' first female Muslim judge found dead in New York". The Guardian. April 13, 2017. Archived from the original on April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d "Honorable Sheila Abdus-Salaam". New York Court of Appeals. Archived from the original on March 29, 2017. Retrieved April 12, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c Reisman, Nick (April 13, 2017). "Anatomy of an Error". State of Politics. Spectrum News. Archived from the original on April 14, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Death of NY Judge Found in Hudson River 'Suspicious': Police". NBC New York. Archived from the original on 2019-05-02. Retrieved 2019-05-02.
  9. ^ a b Seiler, Casey (7 May 2013). "Senate confirms new judge". Times Union. Archived from the original on 15 December 2018. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  10. ^ Ray Sanchez, Madison Park and Brynn Gingras. "New York judge's death a possible suicide, law enforcement sources say". CNN. Archived from the original on 2018-12-16. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  11. ^ Santora, Marc (April 5, 2013). "Cuomo Picks Judge in City to Fill Spot at Top Court". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  12. ^ Brush, Pete. "NY Top Court Gains 1st Black Woman, Back To Female Majority – Law360". www.law360.com. Archived from the original on 2020-12-06. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  13. ^ a b "'Trailblazer' judge found dead in Manhattan". NBC News. Archived from the original on 2017-10-04. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  14. ^ a b "First black woman on New York's highest court was a 'trail-blazing jurist'". USA TODAY. Archived from the original on 2018-12-16. Retrieved 2018-12-13.
  15. ^ Booker, Simeon (January 20, 1992). "Ticker Tape U.S.A." Jet. Archived from the original on April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  16. ^ Marsh, Julia (19 May 2017). "Judge who washed up along Hudson cut husband out of her estate". Archived from the original on 6 November 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  17. ^ Wedding of Canon Jacobs Archived 2017-04-13 at the Wayback Machine, Episcopal Diocese of Newark.
  18. ^ "United States' first female Muslim judge found dead in Hudson River". CNBC. 2017-04-13. Archived from the original on 2020-02-06. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  19. ^ Moore, Tina; Celona, Larry; Cohen, Shawn; Perez, Chris (April 12, 2017). "Judge Washes up Dead Along the Hudson River". New York Post. Archived from the original on April 12, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017. Sources said it showed no obvious signs of trauma or injuries indicating criminality or foul play, and that her death appeared to be a suicide.
  20. ^ Otis, Ginger Adams; Tracy, Thomas; McShane, Larry (April 13, 2017). "Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam likely committed suicide, police say". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  21. ^ West Savali, Kirsten (April 19, 2017). "Reports of Suicide Still Swirling, NYPD Now Calls NY Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam's Drowning Death 'Suspicious'". The Root. Archived from the original on April 20, 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2017.
  22. ^ a b Rashbaum, William K. (April 21, 2017). "Video Shows Judge on Hudson Shore Before Her Death". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 22, 2017. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  23. ^ Cohen, Shawn; Moore, Tina; Golding, Bruce (2017-04-19). "NYPD treating death of judge found in Hudson River as 'suspicious'". New York Post. Archived from the original on 2019-10-17. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  24. ^ Kanno-Youngs, Zolan (May 4, 2017). "NYPD Completes Investigation of Judge's Death". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on April 2, 2019. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  25. ^ McCallister, Doreen (May 4, 2017). "Police Close Investigation Into New York Judge's Death, Saying It Was Likely Suicide". NPR. Archived from the original on May 8, 2017. Retrieved May 9, 2017.
  26. ^ Eversley, Melanie (26 July 2017). "NYC medical examiner: Judge whose body was found in Hudson River committed suicide". USA TODAY. Archived from the original on 20 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Legal offices
Preceded by
Theodore Jones
Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
2013–2017
Succeeded by
Paul G. Feinman