A New York doorman wrongly imprisoned for murder in 1938 has reached the last stage in his battle to win $10 million in compensation from the State of New York.
Isidore Zimmerman, 64, who served 26 years and became one of three jailhouse lawyers known as the "Saints of Dannemora," last week was granted a summary judgment by the New York Court of Claims on the state's liability for damages.
Monetary compensation is now required, with a judge assigned to set the appropriate amount.
"I've been examined by a psychiatrist, and a psychologist and an economist," Zimmerman said yesterday from his apartment in Queens. "They are trying to set a value on my pain and suffering during those lost years; the loss to my wife, and my unfulfilled earning potential. The economist asked me what I would've been if I didn't go to jail, and I told him a lawyer. I became a good jailhouse lawyer and I would've been a good one outside. Lawyers make a lot of money."
Fred Fabricant, Zimmerman's attorney, said that in 1955 a New York court granted $155,000 in compensation to a man wrongfully put in jail. Last year, a California court awarded $1 million to a man who spent two years in jail.
"We expect a very considerable compensation," Fabricant said. "Far beyond those very different cases. And there is every evidence we'll get it."
Zimmerman, who has fought to win damages from the state since his release from jail, was a doorman on the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift until his retirement earlier this year. His take-home pay in recent years has been about $212 weekly.
Fabricant said Zimmerman can expect his damage award by Christmas time.