NEW YORK CITY — The court-ordered monitor tapped to oversee the NYPD's stop-and-frisk reforms is no stranger to police scandals, nor to defending the city's legal interests.
Peter L. Zimroth, 70, of the Upper West Side, now a partner with Arnold & Porter LLP, once represented NYPD Det. David Durk, who along with Frank Serpico and others blew the whistle on police corruption in the 1970s.
He also spent time as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's office and represented the city as its top lawyer, a dichotomy that may serve him well as he tries to navigate the turbulent legal waters over the future of stop-and-frisk.
Zimroth was tapped to monitor the department Monday by Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin in a scathing ruling that found that police officers routinely violated New Yorkers' rights during stop-and-frisks.
The 198-page ruling empowered Zimroth to revise stop-and-frisk policies, review police efforts to reform and share that information with the public.
He could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.
Aside from his work with Durk, Zimroth has an extensive record in public service, as the corporation counsel for the city's law department, an assistant U.S. attorney for New York's Southern District, and a chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan, according to his firm's site.
Zimroth, who grew up in Brooklyn and is married to Oscar-winning actress Estelle Parsons, helped a New Jersey Muslim community overturn zoning laws that barred them from building a mosque and challenged the U.S. Census's undercounting of minorities in rural New York.
He also argued before the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the city's law barring discrimination against women in private clubs.
"I really feel very strongly about using the law as an instrument for social good. That's why I became a lawyer," he told the New York Times in 1987.
He also represented the White House counsel in during the Watergate investigation and was one of three board members in the New York Capital Defender's office which oversaw the legal defense for people facing the death penalty.
"The demands of the courts and clients are really different from those in public life," he added. "Every case that you have you have to learn a new thing, a new business, a new industry."