Federal Judge Norman Stahl of Manchester Dies at Age 92

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Judge Norman Stahl with his court portrait.

The Hon. Norman H. Stahl, 92, a native of Manchester who was appointed a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in 1992 and served until his retirement in 2020, died Saturday, April 8, 2023.

Judge Stahl was nominated to the federal bench in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush, and he served on the U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire until 1992, when Bush nominated him to the federal appeals court to replace David Souter, whom Bush named to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The appeals court, based in Boston, handles appeals from five federal courts, including Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island as well as Puerto Rico.

During his tenure, Judge Stahl was a part of the court that ruled on the illegal search of a Boston drug dealer’s phone, overturning the man’s conviction in 2014 when it was determined police had overstepped their bounds by searching the man’s cellphone without a warrant. Stahl wrote the opinion that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

His obituary noted that the ruling marked a key juncture in the digital era upholding the Fourth Amendment barring unreasonable searches and seizures, including searches of cellphones.

During his judicial career, Stahl was involved in several other historical issues.

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.

Earlier in his law career, as an attorney for the Manchester law firm of Devine and Millimet (later renamed Devine, Millimet, Stahl & Branch), he represented the bonding company that insured the then bankrupt contractor building the Kancamagus Highway. He made bi-weekly trips north to oversee and evaluate the construction, and physically wrote the checks, which led to the eventual completion of the 34.5-mile scenic byway through the White Mountain National Forrest.

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 was a member and chairman of the Judicial Council and the Board of Bar Examiners.

Stahl was born in Manchester and received a bachelor of arts degree from Tufts College in 1952 and a bachelor of laws from Harvard Law School in 1955.

He was instrumental in the construction of the Warren B. Rudman U.S. Courthouse in Concord, working with the architect to design the building, having a hand in the smallest details.

He was active in community service, serving as a board member of the Manchester Historic Society and the Manchester Institute of Arts. He was a director of the Elliott Hospital, a member of the board of governors of Tufts Medical Center, and a member of Temple Adath Yeshurun.

He co-chaired U.S. Sen Robert Dole’s (R-Kansas) 1988 presidential campaign in New Hampshire.

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.

His funeral is Tuesday, April 11, 2023, at 11 a.m. from Temple Adath Yeshurun, 152 Prospect St., Manchester, followed by burial in the Hebrew Cemetery, 316 S. Beech St., Manchester.  Lambert Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

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