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Judge Thomas M. Stark


Thomas M. Stark (1925–2014) was born in Riverhead, New York, and graduated from Holy Cross College and Harvard Law School. During World War II, he was an officer in the US Navy. On his return to Riverhead, he served as Justice of the Peace. After being appointed to the County Court of Suffolk County in 1963, Stark spent six years on that bench before winning election to the state’s Supreme Court, where he sat for 29 years until his retirement in 1998. He is the author of the local history, Riverhead: The Halcyon Years, 1861–1919.

     During a nearly four-decade career on the bench, Stark presided over 255 criminal jury trials, 38 of them involving major homicides. He served as supervising judge of the Superior Criminal Courts of Suffolk County from 1978 to 1992 and as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Term, Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts from 1985 to 1998. As vice chairman of the Criminal Jury Instructions Committee of the New York State Office of Court Administration from 1972 to 1992, he helped draft uniform jury instructions for the state. In 1984, he was named Judge of the Year by the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association. 

     Read Stark’s obituaries in Riverhead Local and Newsday (subscription required) and the Riverhead News Review story on his contributions to the town of Riverhead.

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