In memoriam: Peter L. Zimroth

Peter L. Zimroth, best known to many in the NYU Law community as the inaugural director of the Center on Civil Justice (CCJ) and as a well-respected adjunct professor, passed away on November 7, 2021.

man in suit
Peter L. Zimroth

From 1990 to 2015, Zimroth was a partner at Arnold & Porter, and in 2013 he was named the court-appointed independent monitor in the stop-and-frisk litigation involving the New York Police Department. He became the CCJ’s director in 2014. Last month, NYU Law celebrated the renaming of its Center on the Administration of Criminal Law as the Peter L. Zimroth Center on the Administration of Criminal Law, reflecting Zimroth’s generosity and partnership.

Early in his legal career, Zimroth served as an assistant US attorney for the Southern District of New York before joining the faculty at NYU Law, teaching federal courts, criminal law, and criminal procedure. He earned his JD from Yale Law School, where he was editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. Immediately following his graduation, Zimroth clerked for Chief Judge David L. Bazelon of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and then for Justice Abe Fortas of the US Supreme Court.

In 1974, Zimroth published Perversions of Justice, a book about political trials in the United States during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The following year he joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office as chief of the Appeals Bureau. From 1977 to 1980, Zimroth served as chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan. He entered private practice at Kostelanetz & Ritholz, where he was a partner until 1987, and then served as New York City’s corporation counsel from 1987 to 1989. In that role, he oversaw economic development projects, city contract policies, law enforcement, transportation, legislation, and a host of other issues. His vision for the city’s law on public financing of elections became a model for municipalities nationwide. A champion of public service who believed in the law as a tool for social good, Zimroth argued before the Supreme Court to uphold New York City’s law barring discrimination against women in private clubs and challenged the US Census’s undercounting of minorities in New York. 

“Peter was a brilliant lawyer dedicated to public service and to this institution, as well as a beloved colleague and friend,” said Dean Trevor Morrison. “His legacy will endure through both the work he did during his lifetime and the ongoing mission of the center named in his honor.” 

Photo: NYLJ/Rick Kopstein
Posted November 9, 2021