Jimmy Smits to headline legal drama pilot

John Eisendrath project from UMS, Conan O'Brien's Conaco

Jimmy Smits is set to star in and co-executive produce NBC's untitled John Eisendrath drama pilot.

Eisendrath's project, from UMS and Conan O'Brien's Conaco, centers on a by-the-book Supreme Court Justice (Smits) who excuses himself from the bench to go into private practice and fight constitutional injustices.

Former "NYPD Blue" and "L.A. Law" star Smits went on to topline another drama series, CBS' Latino family drama "Cane." He also co-starred on NBC's "The West Wing" and did a seasonlong arc on Showtime's "Dexter," which earned him his 12th Emmy nomination. (He won in 1990 for "L.A. Law.")

Repped by Brillstein Entertainment, UTA and attorney Tom Hoberman, Smits is coming off a Broadway run in "God of Carnage" and next appears in Rodrigo Garcia's "Mother and Child."