The private attorney appointed Monday as a federal monitor to oversee stop-and-frisk policies of the NYPD had a dim view of court oversight when he was the city's chief lawyer in the late 1980s.
At that time, courts were overseeing consent decrees covering New York's jails, programs for the homeless and special education students, and its foster-care system.
"I did not think that in general it was a good thing for the courts to have such a substantial role in the day-to-day operations of city government," Peter L. Zimroth wrote in a law review article five years ago, long after leaving the city's corporation counsel post at the end of 1989. "I thought the elected officials and their appointees should be doing that."
Zimroth said in an interview with The Associated Press Monday he's not out to pick fights with police officials, who haven't hidden their disdain for the idea of a monitor. The judge "wants to work out a remedy that makes sense, and she wants it done in a cooperative way. That's how I intend to approach it."
He said he has "tremendous respect" for the police department. "I believe effective law enforcement is crucial, just as abiding by the Constitution is crucial."
Zimroth is a partner at the law firm Arnold & Porter.
At 70, Zimroth has had a varied career. Born in Brooklyn, he went to Abraham Lincoln High School and Columbia College. He earned his law degree from Yale Law School in 1966 and went to work as a clerk for a federal appellate judge, and then for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas.
He joined the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan in 1968, and moved to the Manhattan district attorney's office in 1975. He became the chief assistant to DA Robert Morgenthau before leaving for private practice in 1975.
Among his clients was the late Marc Rich, a Swiss commodities trader accused of evading $48 million in taxes. He was New York City corporation counsel from 1987 through 1989, and joined Arnold & Porter in 1990.
He married actress Estelle Parsons in 1983.