A Whistleblower’s Lament: The Perverted Pursuit of Justice in the State of New York
Dubbed in the Hollywood Reporter as “the Serpico of Judges,” and by his detractors as “the Hanging Judge” and “Maximum Stu,” for his willingness to frequently hand out the maximum 25 years to life sentence in intentional murder convictions, since at that time New York State had no death penalty, having been vetoed by both Governors Hugh Carey and Mario Cuomo. Ultimately seeing what he saw as corruption in the administration of homicide trials, in 1985, he wrote Gov. Mario Cuomo to request the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate the county’s criminal justice system, believing there was rampant corruption in the elite Police Homicide Squad and District Attorney’s office, and that cases were being manufactured to obtain convictions in major homicide trials. After a three year investigation by the State Investigations Commission, his “whistle blowing” resulted in numerous forced resignations and transfers in the Suffolk County Police Department, at the highest level of county government, and in the police laboratory. As a result of a deal, he was denied renomination by his own political party led by his former law partner, and ultimately this was the demise of his illustrious judicial career. “A Whistleblower’s Lament” is Judge Stuart Namm’s compelling, personal account of his life in law and politics, and the events that brought it to an end. Three weeks after leaving New York State, he was the first recipient of the “Justice Thurgood Marshall Award,” just three days after the death of that great man, and two other prestigious awards. including the David C. Michaels Award from the New York State Bar Association, and a lifetime membership in the NAACP to “someone who stood up for what was right at great personal sacrifice.”
- Hardcover: 460 pages
- Publisher: Hellgate Press; 1 edition (March 15, 2014)
Born in the tenements of Brownsville, Brooklyn, home of the dreaded “Murder Incorporated” during the height of “the Great Depression,” he was accepted into one of the three elite high schools in New York City, Brooklyn Tech. Hoping to be an architect, his family could not afford to send him to any school which taught architecture, as he never made it past the waiting list for Cooper Union, a free college. He entered City College of New York, at that time a free tuition college, as an engineering student. After one semester, at the suggestion of his English professor, not wishing to be an engineer, he switched to Liberal Arts as a pre-law interdisciplinary student without a major. He was a four year member of the CCNY Lacrosse team, under Coach Leon Miller, a full blooded Cherokee and brother-in-law of Jim Thorpe. This was during the Korean War, so he joined the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps. He married his childhood sweetheart, Lenore Abelson, on Christmas Day 1954, and graduated from CCNY in June 1955, when he was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the US Army Infantry. He was called to active duty in September 1955, and he reported to Fort Benning, Georgia, where in addition to the Basic Infantry Officers School, he volunteered for the US Army Ranger School. Upon graduation from Ranger School, he was given orders for the Far East Command, Korea, for a 16 month tour of duty. Assigned as an Infantry Platoon Leader, shortly thereafter he was designated Assistant Regimental S-1, Courts and Boards Officer, after successfully defending two GI’s in Special Courts Martial, something unheard of in the Army. He returned to his young bride in September 1955, and immediately entered the evening session of Brooklyn Law School while working full time at Equitable Life Assurance Society, which paid for half of his tuition. His two sons were born while he was in law school. Selected under President Kennedy’s “Law Honor Graduate Program,” he left Equitable Life for the New York office of the Federal Trade Commission, investigating violations of the anti-trust laws. He and his wife elected to leave New York City, and they purchased a small home in Stony Brook, New York, some 50 miles from Manhattan, built by the Levitt organization, builders of Levittown. Tired of the long tedious commute to lower Manhattan, he was hired by two local lawyers, one who was the Suffolk County Democratic leader, and the other who went on to become a Federal District Court Judge, appointed by President Clinton. Always wishing to become a judge, he let this be known to his partner, and in 1975, he was asked to run for District Court Judge from the town of Brookhaven, a known conservative town which always elected Republicans, and he accepted knowing that he had no chance and no money to finance a campaign.
As luck would have it, he was elected against great odds, post Watergate and a Republican scandal in the town, by 58 votes out of some 64,000 votes cast, Judge Stuart Namm spent over 16 years on the bench in Suffolk County, New York, the easternmost suburb of New York State, including six in the District Court. Originally elected from the Town of Brookhaven, he lost a reelection bid in 1981, after the town returned to its conservative roots with the election of Ronald Reagan as President. He was subsequently appointed to fill a vacancy in the County Court by Gov. Hugh Carey, the court of felony criminal jurisdiction in Suffolk County, after being found “well qualified” for the position by an independent panel of attorneys. Although he would have had to run for election in November of that year, and most assuredly have lost as a Democrat, because of a deal made in New York State by the Democrat and Republican parties after an agreement to add additional judges throughout the state, he was elected by cross endorsement by both parties to a ten year term in the County Court, the highest court of criminal jurisdiction. Shortly thereafter, he was selected by the administrative judge of the County Court to serve as one of the three judges who handled all of the homicide trials in the county.
When someone whose integrity is without contention exposes the immutable corruption in our world there can be nothing tendered but praise for his courage and commitment. I have known, we have all known or at least suspected, over the years, that we live in a world where the strongest motivation in many of us is greed…greed and the need for power and control.
It is this very element, this supreme weakness and failing in man that is responsible for the rot that eats away at everything fine and good around us. It appears that no matter what the best of us creates to implement equality and goodness and justice, a way is found around it by the least of us for the sole purpose of self-empowerment and self-enrichment. It is a virus that invades and destroys everything in its path.