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Process underway to replace Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam on NY top court

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam looks on as members of

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam looks on as members of the state Senate Judiciary Committee vote unanimously on April 20, 2013 to advance her nomination to fill a vacancy on the Court of Appeals at the Capitol in Albany. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY — The process for filling the vacancy on New York’s highest court got underway Monday following the death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam.

The Commission on Judicial Nomination, the screening committee for filling posts on the state Court of Appeals, announced it would accept applications through May 19. The commission, per state law, reviews and interviews candidates, then submits up to seven potential nominees to the governor, who selects one.

The commission said it intended to present Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo with a field of candidates no later than Aug. 15.

Abdus-Salaam, 65, a pioneering judge who became the first black woman to serve on the Court of Appeals, was found dead in the Hudson River last week in what police are calling an apparent suicide. Investigators have said there were no signs of foul play.

After a lengthy career, Abdus-Salaam had reached the top of New York’s legal system when Cuomo appointed her to the Court of Appeals in 2013. In a statement after her death, the governor called her a “trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all.”

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