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|Current Court Information:|
|United States District Court for the District of New Jersey|
|Appointed by:||Richard Nixon|
|Active:||12/28/1973 – 1/4/1987|
|Preceded by:||Leonard Garth|
|Succeeded by:||Nicholas Politan|
|Bachelors:||Hobart College (1958)|
|Law School:||University of Chicago Law School (1961)|
- This page is about the U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey. If you are looking for the Colorado District Judge for Denver County, see Herbert L. Stern III.
Herbert Jay Stern (1936–present) was a federal judge on the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and United States Judge for Berlin.
Stern was nominated by President Richard Nixon on December 7, 1973, to a seat vacated by Leonard Garth; he was confirmed by the Senate on December 19, 1973, and received commission on December 28. He resigned on January 4, 1987. Stern was succeeded in this position by Nicholas Politan. In 1979 he served as United States Judge for Berlin.
Early life and education
- Hobart College, B.A., 1958
- University of Chicago Law School, J.D., 1961
- U.S. Army Reserve Private, 1961–1962
- Assistant district attorney, New York County, New York, 1962–1965
- Trial attorney, Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, U.S. Dept. of Justice, 1965–1969
- Chief assistant U.S. attorney, District of New Jersey, 1969–1971
- U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, 1971–1974
- Federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey 1973–1987
- United States Judge for Berlin, 1979
- Private practice, Roseland, New Jersey, 1987–present
District of New Jersey
Stern was nominated by President Richard Nixon on December 7, 1973, to a seat vacated by Leonard Garth; he was confirmed by the Senate on December 19, 1973, and received commission on December 28. He resigned on January 4, 1987. Stern was succeeded in this position by Nicholas Politan.
United States Judge for Berlin
From the end of World War II in 1945 until the reunification of Germany in 1990, West Berlin was under military occupation of the United States, France, and Britain, each occupying a sector of the city. West Berlin was surrounded by the German Democratic Republic, a Communist dictatorship commonly known as East Germany. The law of the Federal Republic of Germany, commonly known as West Germany, while recognizing that some parts of Germany were not within the Federal Republic, considered all Germans, whether in West Germany, East Germany, or West Berlin, to have the same German citizenship. In particular, West Germany recognized a right of East Germans to relocate from East Germany to West Germany or West Berlin, but East Germany forbade it.
In August 1978, two East Germans, Hans Detlef Alexander Tiede and Ingrid Ruske, used a starting pistol (not an actual gun) to hijack an Polish airliner traveling from Gdańsk, Poland and bound for East Berlin, and had it land in the American sector of West Berlin. The American government had recently succeeded after many years of negotiation in persuading East Germany, Poland, and other Eastern-bloc countries to sign a convention in which member states promised to punish hijackers. If the two hijackers were not prosecuted, the treaty would be lost. The government of West Berlin did not want to prosecute them because they saw them as fleeing oppression under a dictatorship. Therefore, the American occupying power decided to prosecute them.
American judicial power in the occupied American sector of Berlin was nominally vested in the United States Court for Berlin. The office of United States Judge for Berlin had until then been vacant since its creation in the 1940s; the court had existed only on paper. In 1979, the State Department appointed Herbert Stern to that office.
Over the prosecutor's objections, Stern ruled that the defendants were entitled to a trial by jury. The State Department refused to cooperate in summoning a jury of residents of West Berlin. Stern's bailiff had detailed knowledge of the local system of keeping records of citizens' addresses. Under Stern's orders, he approached local authorities directly to choose people randomly from those records to summon them. The State Department was informed of these activities after the fact.
The case against Ingrid Ruske was dismissed because she had not been notified of her Miranda rights before signing a confession. The jury acquitted Tiede on three charges, including hijacking and possession of a firearm, but convicted him of taking a hostage. He was sentenced to time served — about nine months. Stern said that that sentence was the only way to protect Tiede against the arbitrary power of the State Department, which had refused to consider itself bound by the court's decisions.
Martin Sheen played the role of Judge Stern in a 1984 movie about the case.
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