“Judge Namm is an avid traveler and digital videographer, now working in High Definition, his travels have taken him to every continent save one, including such distant and exotic locales as French Polynesia, The Great Barrier Reef of Australia, Vietnam, the Serengetti, Cape Horn and the Tierra del Fuego peninsula of South America, just 600 miles from Antarctica.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1933, Stuart Namm grew up in the crowded tenements of Brownsville, Brooklyn, then the home of Louis "Lepke" Buchalter and the infamous "Murder, Inc." He is the son of Paul and Lillian Kramer Namm, both born in New York City. On his father's side, he is third generation American. His mother's parents emigrated from Russia in the first decade of the twentieth century. His father's ancestors were from Germany.
In 1951, he graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, one of three educationally elite four year high schools in New York City. In 1951, he was accepted into the City College of New York, School of Engineering. His engineering education was short lived, when he and his professors agreed that he was far better suited for a liberal arts education. He chose to obtain an inter-disciplinary education as a pre-law student. His ultimate goal was to attend law school. In City College, he was a four year member of the varsity Lacrosse team and a volunteer in the Reserve Officers Training Corps. At that time, the United States was fully engaged in the Korean War which ended in 1954.
In 1954, during Christmas recess, he married the late Lenore Abelson of Brooklyn, New York. They were married for more than 41 years when his beloved Lenore, herself a retired Probation Officer and Inter-Personal Dispute Mediator, passed away suddenly in 1996. In 1955, Judge Namm graduated from City College with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Infantry Corps. His first assignment was in Fort Benning, Georgia where he volunteered to attend the United States Army Ranger School. In April, 1956, he was assigned as a platoon leader to the 17th Infantry Regiment headquartered above the 38th parallel in Korea. After successfully defending several enlisted men in courts martial, he was assigned as Regimental Courts and Boards Officer. He remained in Korea until September 1957 when he was honorably discharged from military service with the rank of 1st Lieutenant.
In 1957, although accepted to Georgetown and George Washington University Law Schools in WashingtonD.C., he chose to remain in New York where he attended Brooklyn Law School for four years in the evening while being employed full-time by the Equitable Life Assurance Society as an insurance underwriter. Two of his three children were born while he was attending law school. In law school, he was the winner of the school's moot court competition.
In 1961, the year John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, Judge Namm graduated from Brooklyn Law School. He was immediately employed as an attorney in the Federal Trade Commission under President Kennedy's Law Honor Graduate Program. He worked for five years in the New York office of the FTC where he investigated such companies as Timex, Decca Records, Johnson and Johnson and Bristol Laboratories for anti-trust violations.
In 1966, after the birth of his only daughter, and after moving from New York City to Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, he entered the private practice of law with Dominic J. Baranello, the Democratic county chairman, who became New York State Democratic chairman and Frederic Block, who went on to become the president of the New York State Bar Association and a Federal District Court Judge.
Judge Namm was the litigation member of the law firm, spending most of his time in the various courts of Suffolk County. In 1969, the original law firm of Baranello, Block and Namm was dissolved. He and Dominic J. Baranello continued to practice together in Centereach, New York under the firm name of Baranello and Namm. In 1975, he was nominated by the Democratic party as candidate for the District Court of Suffolk County from the town of Brookhaven. In November 1975, he was elected to that post largely as a result of the Watergate scandal and a local Republican scandal by the slimmest of pluralities, 58 votes out of a total of 68,000 votes cast in the election.
In January 1976, he was sworn in as a District Court Judge. He had realized his childhood ambition of becoming a judge, having spent many hours with his fiancee in New York City's Night Magistrates Court during his college years. Judge Namm quickly developed a reputation as a no-nonsense, tough judge in the administration of criminal justice. He spent six years on the District Court bench. In 1981, when he ran for re-election against an unknown Republican candidate, the judge was endorsed by every law enforcement organization in the county of Suffolk. In short, he was the sweetheart of the local and state police and sheriffs. This relationship would turn out to be short lived. Judge Namm was defeated by an overwhelming plurality in an election when the town of Brookhaven returned to its normal Republican roots.
In May 1982, after returning to the private practice of law, he was nominated by Governor Hugh Carey to fill a vacancy on the County Court bench. Quickly confirmed by the New York State Senate, he ascended to the court of highest criminal jurisdiction in a county of over 1,000,000 people. It was there that he would have his greatest impact upon the criminal justice system. In November 1982, after receiving the endorsement of both major political parties, he was elected to a ten year term on the court.
In 1983, Judge Namm was selected by the administrative judge, Thomas M. Stark, as one of three judges handling all of the homicide cases in the county. At that time, there were about 60 homicides a year in Suffolk county. He quickly reestablished his reputation as a hard-working, no-nonsense, tough criminal court judge. In homicide cases, he was not reluctant to hand out the maximum life sentence where appropriate. To his detractors, he was known as the "hanging judge" who was in the "pocket of the District Attorney." They soon learned that he was neither.
In 1985, he presided over two consecutive highly publicized murder trials, People v. Peter Corso and People v. James Diaz. The judge began to notice a pattern of corruption in the investigation and prosecution of these cases by senior members of the office of the District Attorney and the elite Suffolk County Police homicide squad. Both of these defendants were acquitted by juries despite alleged confessions. These cases came on the heels of another homicide trial, People v. Vincent Waters, where the judge believed that senior members of the District Attorney's office had perjured themselves during the course of a hearing on alleged systematic exclusion of blacks in the jury selection process. The judge believed that he was witnessing the systemic corruption of the county's criminal justice system. In short, he believed, cases were being manufactured to obtain convictions in homicide trials.
In November 1985, he took the extraordinary step of writing to Governor Mario Cuomo to request the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate the county's criminal justice system. For more than three years, the New York State Commission of Investigations conducted a sweeping investigation of the county's system of criminal justice. They conducted two public hearings and wrote two reports. The Commission corroborated the corruption found by Judge Namm who was the lead witness at these hearings. The judge became a pariah in the "old boy network" which permeated the county's system of justice. He was shunned by the establishment bar- both defense and prosecutorial. The Police Commissioner resigned and was replaced. The District Attorney, now a Supreme Court Justice, was directed not to seek re-election. The entire homicide squad either resigned, retired or was transferred. The county's Chief Forensic Pathologist, then Director of the Maryland Crime Laboratory, was convicted of perjury. The County Executive resigned from office. NEWSDAY, the largest newspaper of general circulation in the county, wrote an award winning week long series entitled "The Confession Takers" which documented the entire sordid affair.
As his "reward", Judge Namm was transferred out of the County Court to a civil part of the Supreme Court, but, despite this experience, he remained a tough, but fair, judge. In his last case, prior to the transfer, the judge sentenced Scott Carroll, a notorious serial rapist, referred to in the media as the dreaded "South Shore Rapist," to the longest sentence ever handed out in New York state- 375 to 750 years in prison.
For two years, Judge Namm fought for his return to criminal court. In 1991, after much media and editorial pressure on the administrators of the judiciary, he was transferred back to the County Court and criminal jurisdiction. He remained on that bench until December 1992. Both major political parties, one of which was still led by his former law partner, conspired not to re-nominate him to the County Court. The Democratic Party extracted three new judgeships as the quid pro quo. Although some asked him to run for District Attorney, the judge chose to retire to the state of North Carolina.
In 1993, Judge Namm completed the manuscript of a non-fiction book entitled "Criminal Injustice" which documents the story of his involvement in uncovering the corruption of the criminal justice system of Suffolk County, corruption which probably does occur elsewhere in the criminal justice system. (Click Here to see 1989 Annual Report of the New York State Commission of Investigation and the Final Report on the Investigation of the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office and Police Department) In July 1993, the publication and movie rights to the manuscript were optioned to Joseph Isgro of Hollywood, California, the Executive Producer of the movie "Hoffa." Judge Namm has more recently worked with the Academy Award and Emmy award winning creator of "Kojak," Abby Mann, in the development of a fictional screenplay loosely based on his story. He is also writing his second manuscript, a novel loosely based upon two bizarre criminal cases over which he presided as a judge. It is a gripping story of religion, murder, incest and the police. In the industry, Judge Namm has been billed in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER as the "Serpico of Judges."
In 1993, Judge Namm was the recipient of three distinguished awards. He and his wife were flown back to the Grand Hyatt and Marriott Marquis Hotels in New York City where, on one day, he received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the David S. Michaels award from the New York State Bar Association, and a special award from the N.A.A.C.P. of Suffolk County. The judge was only the second recipient of the Thurgood Marshall award. The only other recipient was United States Supreme Court Justice Marshall himself. The inscriptions on these awards read:
Thurgood Marshall Award
"As a Champion of individual rights and liberties, with a strong commitment to principle"
David S. Michaels Award
"Courageous efforts in promoting Integrity in the Criminal Justice System"
N.A.A.C.P. Special Award
"To someone who stood up for what was right at Great Personal Sacrifice Principle was ahead of Expediency A man who practiced and lived what everyone else preached"
In June 1994, because of his expertise and experience within the American criminal justice system, Judge Namm entered into a contract with Mainline Television Limited of Crawley, West Sussex, England, to serve as their United States Judicial Consultant, Writer and Interviewer for a distinguished television documentary series on thirteen of the most highly publicized American homicide cases. The series entitled "The Serial Killers" was produced by Frazer Ashford, the Managing Director of Mainline, and jointly researched and written by the English author and criminologist, Christopher Berry-Dee, and Judge Namm. The series has aired all over the world and on The Learning Channel in the United States. The Judge was the writer and inerviewer in the two shows entitled: "The Lethal Lovers," the story of Cathy Wood and Gwen Graham.
In 1996, Judge Namm entered into an agreement with The Cronkite Ward Co. of Washington, DC, the documentary production company of Walter Cronkite, former CBS News anchor. It was the Judge's goal to produce a series of documentaries for television which would examine the stories of those prisoners throughout the United States, many of whom have been convicted of the most heinous of crimes, who communicate with the judge on a regular basis in the hope that their story will be told from within the prison walls. Shortly after Mr. Cronkite's retirement the effort to market the project was discontinued until the Judge teamed up once again with Frazer Ashford of Coulsdon, Croydon, UK, now the Managing Director of Ashford Entertainment Corporation, Ltd., to produce a 13 part series of 60 minute documentaries. The pilot show, based upon the gripping story of Martin Tankleff, currently serving 50 years to life for the murders of his parents, and who continues to profess his innocence, was completed in December 1998 in the UK after filming for several weeks in the states of New York, North Carolina and Florida.
In January 1997, the judge married the former Nancy Parmenter Middleswarth, who like Judge Namm was widowed in 1996 after 28 years of marriage. She retired from her position as the Director of all of the Recreation programs for the Senior population of the City of Wilmington, North Carolina where she organized and supervised the local Senior Games. Nancy, a former physical education teacher, has worked with both the special and visually impaired population, and is the mother of three sons. Nancy, a great supporter of the Judge and the project, was the Executive Producer of "A Question of Guilt?" In 2002, the project was abandoned when "Court TV" broadcast a documentary by another producer about the Tankleff case, a documentary which was virtually a duplicate of the pilot for “A Question of Guilt.”.
Nevertheless, Judge Namm continued to be a hero to, and the champion of, persons who claimed they were unjustly convicted in what they perceive to be a corrupt system of justice. Every week he continued to receive impassioned pleas from prisoners all over the country for assistance in their plight. These persons uniformly proclaim there is no one else to turn to within the system. The Judge, in his new role, provided hope where there was none as he continued to write and shed light on those who may have suffered grave injustices within the criminal justice system. Many of those with whom he communicated were imprisoned in the State of Texas on Death Row for crimes which were committed before reaching the age of eighteen. The latter were to become the subjects of a documentary series about young men on Death Row, to be jointly produced with Frazer Ashford. When that series could not get off the ground, as a result of the 9/11 disaster's effect on the television industry, and after having to legally pursue MSNBC for using his research and interviews in "The Serial Killers" without accreditation as required by his contract with the original producers of the series, and after the abandonment of the series "A Question of Guilt," which had received critical acclaim from all who had viewed the pilot, the Judge decided that he had suffered enough disappointment in professional life, and now directs his attention to his family and personal life during his "golden years." He has abandoned his Quixotic battle against windmills, and chosen to leave it to those who are younger and wiser than he. Nevertheless, he continues to communicate with several prisoners with whom he has developed a personal bond over the years, and who have found a special place in his heart, and he sometimes longs to pick up the proverbial sword once again. However, he continues to personally produce documentaries, not for commercial purposes, but as an avocation, for free public viewing at local libraries. senior centers and film festivals. (Note: See below)
Note: In 1997, after seeing the musical Bring in da Noise, Bring in da Funk on Broadway, the Judge decided to try his hand at tap dancing-something which he had never tried before, and for which he had never been trained. After one lesson for beginners at the New Hanover County Senior Center, at which he felt like an insecure klutz, he decided to learn to dance on his own. With the support and encouragement of Nancy, they installed a small dance floor at home, and he began to tap and choreograph his own dance routines. Since that time, the Judge has won numerous Gold and Silver medals in the Silver Arts competition at both the local Senior Games in New Hanover and Pender counties in North Carolina, and the State finals in Raleigh, while sometimes competing against professional dancers, but always competing against women who may have danced and trained continuously throughout their lives. He has also had the privilege of performing for the Queen and her court of Wilmington's annual Azalea Festival, which takes place each April, and on stage in Wilmington's historic Thalian Hall in the Broadway musical, 70 Girls 70, where, ironically, he played the role of Detective Callahan, a New York City police detective. His latest award winning dance routine, a Tribute to James Cagney and George M. Cohan can be viewed on the Works in Progress page of this website, as well as on YouTube at www.youtube.com/RetJudgeS2/. From time to time, additional award winning performances will be added to the site.
July 12, 2008 Note:
Since most of this website is dedicated to our travels and my documentaries, both completed and in progress, it might begin to seem like this is the total extent of our lives, as exciting as it may seem to some. However, it is a fact that we have another life which is dedicated to our respective families. Between us, Nancy and I have six children-five sons and one daughter-and as of July 3, 2008, we now have ten grandchildren between us. Six are mine from two of my children from my first marriage to the late Lenore Abelson, and as of July 3, four are Nancy's from her first marriage to the late Terry Middleswarth. Mila Ann Middleswarth was born to Nancy's youngest son, Jeremy Allen, and his lovely wife, Jessica Ann, in Wilmington, North Carolina, although they reside in Leland, North Carolina, just south of the Cape Fear River. Mila Ann was a healthy 8 lbs. 10 oz., and some 20 1/2 " in length. Of course, Nana Nancy and Grandpa Stuart were at the hospital on the day of her birth, meaning that many photographs were taken, and on July 9, many feet of video was shot by Grandpa. Here is one of the photos of the proud mother and daughter less than one hour after her birth, and some seven precious minutes of video.
Now that I have entered the sometimes treacherous arena of grandchildren, it would be eminently unfair not to speak of our other nine, some too young to speak in superlatives of their exploits and accomplishments, but others so accomplished that it behooves one, in the interest of modesty, to refrain from the superlatives that each deserves.
Six year old Hannah and seven month old sister Haillie, daughters of Nancy's oldest son Daniel and wife, Phillipine born, Amor, who reside in Aiken, South Carolina.
Lauren Marie, the three year old daughter of Nancy's middle son, Tim, and wife, Charity, who reside in Leland, North Carolina.
19 year olds Rachel Elizabeth and David Aaron, "the twins" are both collegiate rising sophomores. Rachel is a brilliant business major at UNC Chapel Hill, spending summers at local hospitals involved in major medical projects. David was the recipient of the Grantland Rice Scholarship for sports journalism at Vanderbilt University, where he continues to write sports stories. They are the children of Stuart's oldest son, Gary, and Lisa, who reside in Clearwater, Florida. In May 2011, Rachel graduated with top honors from UNC Chapel Hill's School of Business, and will be off to Chicago as a consultant to the medical professional. Likewise, David graduated from Vanderbilt University with honors in May 2011.
Fourteen year old Rebecca Sara is the youngest child of Stuart's daughter, Suzanne, and husband, Dr. Richard Wolonick, of Pinehurst, North Carolina. A rising freshman in Pinecrest High School, Rebecca was the smallest member and the flyer of the O'Neal School's very vociferous cheerleaders. Dance is her passion, and she has been dancing since the family returned from Okinawa, when she was four years old. She has been en pointe in ballet since age 10, and has just returned from the American Dance Festival camp at Duke University, which she attended in 2007 as well. For now, she dreams of being a professional modern dance performer and a dance therapist.
February 7, 2010
Since Spring of 2009, after acquiring a SONY PMW-EX3 full 1920x1080 high definition camera, we began to work on one of our most ambitious projects, "The Waterfalls of the Southern Appalachians." Although I have had a small vacation home in the mountains since 1989, Nancy and I have been exploring places that I had never seen, or even known about. We began in the Spring, because in January 2009, Nancy had both knees replaced, and by Spring, her legs were strong enough to climb up hills and hike long dirt trails. Last month, we were in the mountains again shooting one of the most spectacular falls surrounded by deep snow, large icicles and ice. Shortly, I will begin to add some photos and video clips to the website.
December 25, 2009
Happy Holidays to all! Just returned from 26 day cruise to the Amazon River on ms Prinsendam. Either we spent too much time on the river-six days-or global warming is a fact of life. Saw only one blue hummingbird, and no animals, unless they were attached to a string to encourage monetary gifts. It was a great disappointment, especially viewing a huge, brown colored river. More to come!