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In 2013, Abdus-Salaam made history as the first African-American woman appointed to the state's highest court and the first ever female Muslim judge in the country.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appointed Abdus-Salaam, issued a statement on her death:
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.
As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the State's Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer. 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.
On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies to her family, loved ones and colleagues during this trying and difficult time.
The death is under investigation, and the exact cause will be determined by a medical examiner.