Gerald Stern, who served as the first head of the agency tasked with policing New York’s judiciary and who came to be widely known as an icon of ethics enforcement, died on Jan. 6 after a long fight with cancer. He was 86.

Stern, who fostered a passion for fighting for the underdog, was the administrator for the State Commission on Judicial Conduct (SCJC) from its 1974 creation—which the state legislature initially established as a temporary entity—to his 2003 retirement.