Cover photo for Honorable Norman H. Stahl's Obituary
Honorable Norman H. Stahl Profile Photo
1931 Honorable Norman H. Stahl 2023

Honorable Norman H. Stahl

January 30, 1931 — April 8, 2023

Needham, Ma

Judge Protected Cell Phones from Warrantless Search

Honorable Norman H. Stahl, Died at 92 on April 8, 2023.

In 2007, Boston police arrested a drug dealer named Brima Wurie, retrieving an address on Wurie's phone that led to his conviction. Wurie appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals—which, in 2014, overturned the conviction, arguing cops had overstepped their bounds.

The opinion, written by Judge Norman H. Stahl and unanimously upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, marked a key juncture in the digital era: Moving forward, the Fourth Amendment, which bars "unreasonable searches and seizures," would apply to your cell phone.

In this way, Stahl, who passed away Saturday at the age of 92, helped define the constitutional contours of the Age of the Internet, making it clear that even as technology was rapidly evolving, your civil liberties remained intact.

It was a characteristically principled opinion for a judge known for his thoughtful and incisive interpretation of the Constitution.

A practical approach grounded in methodical analysis and assessment underpinned all that Judge Stahl did. That said, he would be the first one to credit the cadre of law clerks he worked with over the course of his judicial career. He sought lawyers, who were smart and well educated, but more importantly those whose opinions, perspectives, and life's experience differed from his and who were willing to challenge his views. The decision in Lotus v. Borland, also affirmed by the Supreme Court, was another involving technology. His work vindicating the Title IX claims brought by the women's gymnastics and volleyball teams against Brown University (Cohen v. Brown University) was a case he was proud to have heard and written the opinion which grants equal opportunity for male and female in college athletics and provides male and female athletes with equal access to financial aid.

His perspective on issues was grounded in 35 years of corporate practice and was no doubt one of the reasons he was often asked to serve the judiciary in other capacities, most notably as Chairman of the Committee on Judicial Security. In that role, he was responsible for presenting the budget to Congress and appearing before the relevant authorizing and appropriating committees in the House and Senate. He also served on the Committee on information Technology and the Committee on the Budget.

Judge Stahl took great pride in the Warren B. Rudman U.S. Courthouse on Pleasant Street in Concord, NH. He worked tirelessly with the architect to design the building concerning himself with the smallest details. He thought about people, the work, the use of space and as such, insisted the design of the judicial chambers be adjacent and on the same floor which is greatly appreciated by the current jurists for the collegiality and civility it fosters, values he thought most important.

Judge Stahl, was a New Hampshire native spending all but his later life in Manchester and Bedford. Born on January 30, 1931, he was the son of Dr. Samuel and Sadie Stahl. Growing up in Manchester with older brothers David and Robert, an early memory was how the three boys roamed the streets, marveling at all the downed trees around their Linden Street home after the 1938 hurricane.

Norman graduated from Manchester public schools, Tufts College (1952) and then Harvard Law School (1955). After law school, he served as a law clerk for Justice John V. Spaulding on the Massachusetts Supreme Court. In 1956 he returned to Manchester, joined the law firm of Devine, Millimet, and remained an attorney at that firm, later called Devine, Millimet, Stahl & Branch, until joining the bench.

When he began his practice, the profession was far less specialized than it is today. His work encompassed Corporate, Banking, Real Estate Development, and Public Law. Soon after joining the firm he represented the bonding company who had insured the then bankrupt contractor who was building the Kancamagus Highway. His bi-weekly trips North to oversee and evaluate the construction, and physically write the checks, led to its eventual completion resulting in the 34.5 scenic byway through the White Mountain National Forrest enjoyed today.

He loved the City of Manchester and the great State of New Hampshire. He served both in a variety of positions. He directed outside legal efforts for the State of New Hampshire in connection with the bankruptcy proceedings of the Public Service Company of New Hampshire. He served as Acting City Solicitor in Manchester for six months to help reorganize the office, and he was involved in the expansion of the Manchester Airport. He served as a member and chairman of both the Judicial Council and the Board of Bar Examiners.

He was active in community service as well. He was a board member of the Manchester Historic Society and the Manchester Institute of Arts, a director of the Elliott Hospital, a member of the Board of Governors of Tufts Medical Center, and a member of Temple Adath Yeshurun. Always interested in politics, he assisted elected officials in both parties and co-chaired Senator Robert Dole's 1988 presidential campaign in NH. In 1972 politics and his love of sports cars humorously converged when Paul Newman campaigning for Congressman McCloskey took a short respite at the residence in Bedford. Seeing the orange 1972 Datsun 240Z in the garage, Newman still in his suit got down on his knees to confirm the car had Koni shocks. His judicial career began in 1990 when President George H. W. Bush nominated him to serve on the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire. Then in1992, President Bush nominated him to fill the seat of Justice David H. Souter on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit — where he served until his retirement in 2020.

Judge Stahl is survived by his wife, Sue (Heimerdinger) Stahl, their son Peter Stahl and daughter Ellen Stahl, as well as Peter's wife, Jill Weisz. He was predeceased by his brothers, David and Robert Stahl.

Funeral Service: Tuesday, April 11th at 11am EDT at Temple Adath Yeshurun, 152 Prospect Street Manchester, NH 03104. Followed by a burial service at Hebrew Cemetery, 316 South Beech S, Manchester, NH.  Lambert Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

Visiting & Shiva Hours: 82 Woodhill Road, Bow, NH.  Tuesday, April 11th, following burial until 8pm; and Wednesday, April 12th 10am-1pm & 5pm-8pm.

Virtual Shiva via Zoom on Thursday, April 13th from 7:00pm-9:00pm(EDT). Minyan Prayer Service with Rabbi held 8:45pm-9:00pm. For Zoom URL, email: shiva4nhs@yahoo.com

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be sent in memory of Norman H. Stahl to: American Friends of Magen David Adom (https://www.afmda.org), or Jewish National Fund (https://www.jnf.org) or a charity of your choice. 
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Honorable Norman H. Stahl, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

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Tuesday, April 11, 2023

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Wednesday, April 12, 2023

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Wednesday, April 12, 2023

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82 Woodhill Road, Bow, NH 03304

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Virtual Shiva via Zoom

Thursday, April 13, 2023

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Minyan Prayer Service with Rabbi via Zoom

Thursday, April 13, 2023

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