He appeared almost like he was out of Central Casting — tall and patrician, with a cultivated above-the-fray presence. And in reality, former Manhattan District Lawyer Robert M. Morgenthau inspired some tv casting of his own, because of the model for the avuncular character of prosecutor Adam Schiff, performed by actor Steven Hill on the long-running tv series, “Law and Order.”
“Law & Order” creator Dick Wolf known as Morgenthau “the best district lawyer in the historical past of New York.”
Morgenthau, who died Sunday at 99, just ten days before turning 100, spent practically half his life jailing criminals from mob kingpins and drug-dealing killers to a tax-dodging Harvard dean.
He served as U.S. Lawyer for New York’s southern district throughout the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, returned to legislation enforcement as Manhattan’s top state prosecutor in 1974 and did not leave for 35 years, along with his office dealing with around 100,000 criminal instances yearly.
In 2005, at age 86, Morgenthau was selected for the eighth and last time, turning back a challenge from Leslie Crocker Snyder, a popular former state judge who tried without success to show his age and prolonged tenure into campaign issues.
He was 90 when he stepped down from office in 2009, throwing his help to his eventual successor Cy Vance.
“I checked out my birth certificates, and I stated, `It is about time,”‘ he informed The Associated Press at the time of his retirement. In his place at the forefront of Manhattan’s legal and political scene, Morgenthau was broadly acknowledged by allies and foes alike as efficient, nonpartisan and incorruptible.