Former Brooklyn Legal Services lawyer sworn in to New York’s highest court

June 20, 2013 By Charisma L. Miller, Esq. Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The newest member to the New York Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest court, was sworn in at noon Thursday in Albany. Sheila Abdus-Salaam is the first black woman on the Court of Appeals.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, a longtime friend of Abdus-Salaam from their days as students at Columbia Law School in the 1970s, attended the swearing-in ceremony.

Abdus-Salaam began her legal career as an attorney with the East Brooklyn Legal Services and later became a Manhattan Civil Court judge before obtaining a seat in the Appellate Division, First Department.

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“We are so extraordinarily proud of Shelia’s appointment to the Court of Appeals,” said Martin Needelman, project director and chief counsel to Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A. “Becoming the first black woman to the court is especially significant,” he continued. “She’s absolutely wonderful and will make a great judge.”

Nominated by Gov. Mario Cuomo to fill the seat on the Court of Appeals bench left vacant by the untimely death of Judge Theodore T. Jones, Jr., Abdus-Salaam was deemed well qualified by the New York State Bar Association.

“Inspired as a teenager to enter the legal profession after an encounter with civil rights attorney Frankie Muse Freeman, Justice Abdus-Salaam has followed her inspiration by serving the public throughout her distinguished career as an attorney and jurist,” said Association president Seymour W. James. “Justice Abdus-Salaam is an ideal choice.”

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