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Cuomo nominates Sheila Abdus-Salaam for Court of Appeals

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 4/21/2013, 4:59 p.m.

Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo nominated Sheila Abdus-Salaam to serve on the New York state Court of Appeals. Abdus-Salaam, currently an associate justice of the Appellate Division of the New York state Supreme Court, would be the first African-American woman to serve on the court.

Cuomo said that Abdus-Salaam has what it takes to succeed in the Court of Appeals.

"As one of our state's most respected and experienced jurists, Justice Abdus-Salaam will bring a wealth of judicial and legal expertise to the New York state Court of Appeals," said Cuomo in a statement. "Rising from working-class roots to serve for decades on the bench of the New York state Supreme Court, Justice Abdus-Salaam has a deep understanding of the everyday issues facing New Yorkers, as well as the complex legal issues that come before the state's highest court."

Abdus-Salaam said she looked forward to the opportunity.

"I am honored to be nominated by Governor Cuomo to serve on the New York state Court of Appeals," she said. "Throughout my legal career, I have sought to uphold the laws of our state and treat all those who appear before me fairly and with respect and dignity. This nomination presents me with an opportunity to continue to serve New Yorkers and advocate for justice and fairness here in New York state."

Since April 2009, Abdus-Salaam has served as an associate justice. She was elected justice of the Supreme Court of the state of New York in November 1993 and re-elected in November 2007. From January 1992 to December 1993, Abdus-Salaam served as judge on the Civil Court of the City of New York.

Maureen E. Maney, president of the Women's Bar Association of the state of New York (WBASNY), heaped praise on Abdus-Salaam.

"The appointment of Justice Abdus-Salaam, a WBASNY member, is not only a source of great pride to our association, but a benefit to all New Yorkers who are, every day, impacted by the decisions of the state's highest court," said Maney. "Her experience, intelligence and judicial temperament make her the perfect nominee for this position. The governor's nomination not only recognizes the outstanding qualifications she possesses, but also promotes diversity."

In March, the State Bar Association--which has evaluated candidates for the Court of Appeals since 1967--gave Justice Abdus-Salaam its highest rating of "well-qualified" to serve on the Court of Appeals.

Abdus-Salaam served as general counsel in the New York City Office of Labor Services from June 1988 to December 1991 and as an assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights and Real Estate Financing Bureaus from August 1980 to May 1988. She graduated from Barnard College and received her J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law.

New York state Bar Association President Seymour W. James Jr. said Abdus-Salaam's credentials made her the perfect candidate for the Court of Appeals.

"Justice Abdus-Salaam is an ideal choice, having vast experience ruling on everything from corporate issues to personal injury cases to criminal matters," said James. "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."