Isidore Zimmerman, 63, the Manhattan doorman who was wrongfully imprisoned for 24 years and 10 months by the State of New York, was yesterday granted the right to sue for damages by the New York legislature in Albany. The vote was unanimous in the Senate and 139-8 in the Assembly in Zimmerman's favor.
The Zimmerman Act, which waives the state's right to sovereign immunity in his case only, will now be forwarded to Gov. Hugh Carey, who has 10 days in which to veto it or let it stand.
Similar Zimmerman Acts, passed by the state Assembly in 1969, 1970 and 1971, were vetoed each time by Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller.
Zimmerman, who was accused as an accomplice in the murder of a New York City detective in 1938, narrowly escaped death in the electric chair. He later became one of a team of three jail-house lawyers known as "The Saints of Dannemora." He was freed from jail in 1962, after a court found that the prosecutor had knowingly used perjured testimony to obtain his conviction.
Zimmerman is seeking $10 million in damages from the State of New York. If Gov. Carey endorses the legislative action, the compensation suit will be brought in the Court of Claims.
Zimmerman's lawyer said yesterday that movie rights to the Zimmerman story are in the process of negotiation.