Edward Stutman; Prosecuted Nazis in U.S.
Friday, September 30, 2005
Edward "Ned" Stutman, 60, a retired Justice Department senior trial attorney who prosecuted suspected Nazis, died of lymphoma Sept. 17 at Georgetown University Hospital.
His tough-minded approach in the courtroom not withstanding, Mr. Stutman possessed a wry sense of humor that won him accolades several years ago as the "funniest lawyer in Washington."
Mr. Stutman spent a good deal of his 26-year civil service career in the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigation, where he established himself as an authority on investigating and prosecuting World War II-era Nazis living in the United States.
Methodical and meticulous in his preparations, he helped to devise the legal arguments and litigation strategies used to revoke the U.S. citizenship of suspected Nazi war criminals. He played a key role in winning 13 cases of this type across the country.
One of them was the 2001 retrial of retired U.S. autoworker John Demjanjuk, who in successive court proceedings and appeals here and in Israel battled accusations that he was a Nazi death camp guard.
In the retrial, Mr. Stutman summarized the government's case in front of a packed federal courtroom in Cleveland, showing no hint of the troubling, personal news he had received a few hours earlier: that he had a potentially terminal form of cancer.
After sharing the diagnosis with his colleagues later that day, Mr. Stutman left Cleveland for Houston to receive medical treatment.
"He didn't want to take the focus off the case after all the hard work that had gone into it," said Mr. Stutman's son-in-law, Russell Shaw. "His principal motivating factor was a belief in justice, whether it was working for persons with disabilities or victims of the Holocaust. His identity as an American Jew was also extremely important."
Mr. Stutman was a Philadelphia native who received his bachelor's and law degrees from Temple University. He began his career in Pennsylvania, briefly working in private practice before serving as an assistant district attorney for now-Sen. Arlen Specter (R).
For a time, Mr. Stutman was a public defender in Bucks County, Pa., and once defended a man accused of killing a police officer.
Mr. Stutman also did work for the Bucks County Association of Retarded Citizens and the Philadelphia Public Interest Law Center.
He came to Washington in 1979 to work for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the area of educational opportunities for the disabled.
Mr. Stutman was hired by the Justice Department in 1982 and spent the next four years investigating and litigating cases involving alleged civil rights abuses in state institutions, including mental hospitals, juvenile detention facilities and nursing homes.
He then joined Justice's Office of Special Investigation, where he also was the ethics officer. In 2004, he transferred to the policy-oriented coordination and review section of the Civil Rights Division. It was his final post before retiring in April.
Although he dealt with weighty issues in his professional life, he was known for his ability to lighten tense moments with his quick wit and quirky observations, friends and colleagues said.
At lunch breaks in the OSI conference room, Mr. Stutman was known to entertain those around him, including interns, many of whom he mentored.
Mr. Stutman took his repertoire of jokes and incorporated them into a stand-up routine which he performed at special events at Adas Israel Congregation, where he was an active member, and the Comedy Club, both in Washington. Sometimes he joked about being a civil rights lawyer in the Reagan administration, but mainly he poked fun at his family life.
In a competition at the Comedy Club in 1989 and 1990, he was named "funniest lawyer in Washington," an honor he often downplayed with a deadpan explanation that the second-place winner was Edwin Meese III, the former U.S. attorney general.
Survivors include his wife, Suzanne Stutman of Washington; three children, Shira Stutman of Philadelphia and Zachary Stutman and Gabriel Stutman, both of Washington; a brother; and two grandchildren.