Judge Abdus-Salaam Did Not Commit Suicide, Says Husband

Hans Pennink/AP Images
Hans Pennink/AP Images

The husband of America’s first female Muslim judge—whose body was found floating in the Hudson River off New York City last week—does not believe she committed suicide.


According to the New York Daily News, Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s husband dismisses the idea that his wife took her own life.

“Those of us who loved [the judge] and knew her well do not believe that these unfounded conclusions have any basis in reality,” said the Rev. Gregory Jacobs, who married the New York State Court of Appeals judge last year. “And in the absence of any conclusive evidence, we believe such speculation to be unwarranted and irresponsible.”

Abdus-Salaam’s husband issued the statement after police said they did not find any evidence of trauma or struggle on the body and an autopsy ruled the judge’s cause of death to be inconclusive. The medical examiner plans to conduct more tests, and the New York City Police Department also reported that they have not yet found a suicide note.

The family of Abdus-Salaam also released a statement offering thanks to the people who have expressed sympathy and support over the past few days. It also said that reports that the judge’s mother and brother had committed suicide were wrong. Abdus-Salaam’s mother passed away at the age of 92, and her brother lost a battle with lung cancer in 2014.

A public memorial service for the pioneering judge was set for May 26 at Manhattan’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the family announced.

Read more at the New York Daily News.

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I’m really of two minds about this. Obviously if she is the victim of a crime, I want her murderers found and brought to justice. But so much resistance to the idea of her having taken her own life is based around “she was a strong black woman, she couldn’t have killed herself”. Depression is already so stigmatized, especially in the black community and the subsequent logic that black people can’t or don’t commit suicide obscures the suffering of so many.