According to Reuters, New York City police found Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, floating off the western side of Manhattan in the Hudson River at 1:45 pm EDT (15:45 GMT) on Wednesday.
Police recovered the body of Abdus-Salaam, a Muslim judge at the New York Supreme Court, in her clothes from the water and announced her dead immediately. The police spokesman said that her family had identified her and that the cause of death would be determined after autopsy.
Abdus-Salaam, born in Washington, DC, became the first Muslim American woman to be appointed to appeal courts when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed her to the state Supreme Court in 2013.
"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." Cuomo said in a statement.
According to Princeton University's Encyclopedia of American Political History, Abdus-Salaam is the first Muslim woman to serve as a judge in America.
The New York Post quoted unnamed sources as saying Abdus-Salaam was absent from her home in New York earlier Wednesday. Her family's attempts to reach her failed.
Abdus-Salaam, who graduated from Columbia University Law School, began her legal career with Legal Services in East Brooklyn and worked as assistant to the New York attorney general. She held a series of judicial posts after being elected to the New York City Center of Judges in 1991.