II. Administrative Functions and Accomplishments
A. Case Management
The Clerk, Deputy Clerk, Consultation Clerk, Assistant Consultation Clerk, two Assistant Deputy Clerks, Chief Motion Clerk, Prisoner Applications Clerk, several secretaries, court attendants and service aides perform the myriad tasks involved in appellate case management. Their responsibilities include receiving and reviewing all papers; filing and distributing to the proper recipients all materials received; scheduling and noticing oral arguments; compiling and reporting statistical information about the Court's work; assisting the Court during conferences; and preparing the Court's decisions for release to the public. In every case, multiple controls insure that the Court's actual determinations are accurately reported in the written decisions and orders released to the public.
In addition, many members of the Clerk's Office staff respond -- in person, by telephone and in writing -- to inquiries and requests for information from attorneys, litigants, the public, academicians and other court administrators. Given that practice in the Court of Appeals is complex and markedly different from that in the Appellate Division, the Clerk's Office encourages such inquiries. Members of the Clerk's Office staff also regularly participate in programs designed to educate the Bar about the Court's practice. A list of relevant Clerk's Office telephone numbers is included in Appendix 2.
B. Central Legal Research Staff
The Central Legal Research Staff prepares draft reports on civil motions for leave to appeal, certified questions and selected appeals under the supervision of individual Judges and the Clerk of the Court for the Court's full review and deliberation. Staff attorneys also write and revise research materials for use by the Judges' Chambers and the Clerk's Office and perform other research and analytical tasks as requested. In 1998, Central Staff again revised and updated the civil practice jurisdictional outline for the Court's internal use.
Through December 1998 Decision Days, Central Staff attorneys completed 1161 motion reports, 86 SSD reports, 10 certified question reports, and 5 SSM reports. Central Staff continued to maintain excellent currency in its work.
Attorneys usually join the Central Legal Research Staff directly following law school graduation. This year, staff attorneys represent Albany, Brooklyn, SUNY Buffalo, Columbia University, Cornell University, New York, CUNY Queens, St. John's University and Syracuse University law schools. Staff attorneys hired for 1999 will represent Albany, SUNY Buffalo, Hofstra University, Pace University, CUNY Queens, and Touro University law schools.
During 1998, the Building Manager's staff completed improvements to Central Staff's work space. In addition, the Information Systems Department and the Librarian worked to enhance the technical aspects of the Court's computerized legal research capabilities and, with the assistance of the Building Manager, linked Central Staff attorneys to the Court's internal network.
In 1998, the Chief Court Attorney was appointed to the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association's Council of Appellate Staff Attorneys.
The Librarian provides extensive legal and general reference services to the Judges of the Court, their law clerks and the Clerk's Office staff. In 1998, the Librarian reviewed the Court of Appeals collection to identify areas of strength and weakness. Additions to the collection were catalogued, superseded materials were deleted, and an updated Book Catalog was issued. The Librarian and her two assistants also monitored mergers in the legal publishing industry, revising title maintenance and accounting procedures accordingly.
In 1998, the Librarian regularly alerted the Judges and staff to newly-published journal articles and newly-acquired materials. The Librarian also updated and distributed internally the Election Law Index and the SSM Index. Staff attorneys and Chambers clerks received training in electronic research, with instruction focused on cost-efficient searching. During 1998, the Librarian established procedures for capturing in electronic form internal reports on motions and appeals, and this conversion is proceeding successfully. When completed, the database will provide full text access to these reports, in addition to the searchable abstracts now available.
The State Library, the Library of Albany Law School, the Legislative Library, and Albany Public Library continued to work with the Court of Appeals Library throughout 1998 to ensure access to the materials required by the Court. The Clerk expresses his ongoing appreciation for their cooperation in timely furnishing requested materials. Special thanks are due the Montgomery County Department of History and Archives, which donated to the Court an extremely rare copy of the Senate and Assembly Document Series for 1836-1919. Appellate Division Justice James N. White and Montgomery County Librarian Pat North were instrumental in arranging the donation. Because virtually all pre-1920 Bill Jackets were destroyed when the Capitol caught fire in the early part of this century, these sister series are often the only remaining avenue for establishing legislative intent prior to 1920.
In celebration of Law Day 1998, which occurred during the Court of Appeals' 150th anniversary year, the Court established an essay and poetry contest on the theme "If I were Chief Judge of the State of New York...," which "recogniz[ed] the responsibility we owe to future generations to pass our cherished inheritance on to them." Over seventy students from thirteen schools participated. The Librarian served on a committee which selected the eight winning entries, which were published in a commemorative booklet distributed to all Depository Libraries in the State. The eight student winners, with their families and teachers, attended Law Day 1998 and a luncheon in their honor with the Judges of the Court.
D. Attorneys' Roll Office
One staff attorney manages the Attorneys' Roll Office, supported by a secretary. The office has access, via computer terminal, to information on each attorney admitted to practice in the State, including the date and Appellate Division Department of admission and any subsequent change in status due to disciplinary or other administrative action. The Court's records complement the official registry of attorneys maintained by the Office of Court Administration, which answers public inquiries about the status of attorneys. The Attorneys' Roll Office prepares certificates of admission upon request and maintains a file of certificates of commencement of clerkship. Additionally, the staff attorney drafts preliminary reports to the Court on matters relating to (1) attorney disciplinary cases, (2) petitions for waiver of certain requirements of the Court's Rules for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law and the Rules for the Licensing of Legal Consultants, and (3) proposed Rule changes ultimately decided by the Court.
After a comprehensive review of the Rules for the Admission of Attorneys and Counselors at Law (22 NYCRR Part 520), begun in 1997, the Court amended sections 520.3, 520.4, 520.6, 520.10, 520.11 and 520.12 (effective May 27, 1998) in a number of respects. Through these revisions, the Court sought to enhance the flexibility of the Rules while maintaining its high standards for admission to the Bar. The Court did not amend the Rules for the Licensing of Legal Consultants (22 NYCRR Part 521) in 1998.
The Attorneys' Roll Office created a new internal database for disciplinary motions, which is complete from 1994 to the present, including an index and the full content of motion reports now retrievable in WordPerfect or searchable by ISYS. To complement the motion database, the office has prepared a binder for use in manual research.
Finally, in 1998 the Attorneys' Roll Office created a new database for archiving and reviewing filed petitions for waiver of the Court's admission rules. While data input for prior years will be completed in the future, all 1998 petitions have been entered into the new database. Petitions for Waivers of Rules, 1994 -1998
E. Death Penalty
The 1995 death penalty statute created significant administrative and rulemaking responsibilities for the Court of Appeals. Since 1995, the Court has dedicated substantial time and personnel to meet these obligations, without any increase in Court staff or budget. All members of the Clerk's Office staff have contributed to the capital rulemaking process and to the development of internal procedures for processing capital cases. Additionally, in May 1997, at the Court's request, the Office of Court Administration appointed a Capital Case Coordinator to oversee administration of the capital case database, which Judiciary Law § 211-a requires the Court of Appeals to maintain. Finally, the Deputy Clerk continues to serve on an Office of Court Administration committee appointed by the Chief Judge to monitor the court system's administration of the death penalty statute.
In December 1995, pursuant to Judiciary Law § 35-b(4), the Court of Appeals approved Minimum Standards for Lead and Associate Counsel in Capital Cases, which the Capital Defender Office had promulgated for capital trial counsel in consultation with the Administrative Board of the Courts. Having determined that this statute did not expressly require similar standards for capital appellate and State post-conviction counsel, in March 1997 the Chief Judge acted pursuant to the powers granted her by article 6, section 28 of the State Constitution and referred the matter of minimum standards for appellate and State post-conviction counsel to the Capital Defender Office and the Administrative Board for report and recommendations back to the Court of Appeals. Following a period of public comment on subsequently proposed standards, the Chief Judge promulgated standards for appellate and State post-conviction counsel, which were approved by the Court of Appeals and filed with the Secretary of State on May 7, 1998. These standards are codified at 22 NYCRR Part 515.
Thereafter, because the Capital Defender Office and the Departmental Screening Panels were in the process of developing procedures for recruiting and screening capital appellate counsel, the Court of Appeals released a Notice to the Bar on October 7, 1998 soliciting applications by counsel for placement on an interim roster of capital appellate counsel.
In September 1997, at the Court's direction, the Clerk had written the four Departmental Screening Panels requesting their respective responses to a series of questions concerning the experience thus far with compensating counsel under the capital counsel fee schedules approved by the Court in November 1996 pursuant to Judiciary Law § 35-b(5). In reply, three of four Departmental Screening Panels proposed reductions in the hourly rate of compensation for Lead and Associate Counsel. Following a period of public comment, on December 16, 1998 the Court of Appeals signed an order approving reduced capital counsel fee schedules for the four Judicial Departments. The order was publicly promulgated and disseminated on December 23, 1998.
Throughout the year, the Clerk's Office staff considered other matters relating to the administration of capital appeals, including the Court's capital case database and data report system and procedures for reviewing and approving capital counsel vouchers for fees and expenses on appeals to this Court.
F. Management and Operations
The Administrative Services Assistant, aided by two secretarial assistants, is responsible for supervising fiscal and personnel systems and functions, including purchasing, inventory control, fiscal cost recording and reporting, preparation of payroll documents, processing vouchers, counseling employees on and processing applications for various benefit programs and development of the Court's annual budget request.
A supplies manager is responsible for distribution of supplies. He also assists in comparison shopping and purchasing office supplies and equipment. Under the supervision of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk, another secretarial assistant records and tracks all employees' time and leave information.
G. Budget and Finance
The Administrative Services Assistant is responsible for initial preparation, administration, implementation and monitoring of the Court's annual budget.
The work of the Court and all its ancillary agencies was performed within the 1998-1999 fiscal year budget appropriation of $10,336,906. This figure included all judicial and staff salaries (personal services costs) and all other cost factors (non-personal services costs), including in-house maintenance of Court of Appeals Hall.
2. Budget Requests
The total request for fiscal year 1999-2000 for the Court and its ancillary agencies is $10,415,089, an increase of .8% from the previous year's appropriation.
The 1999-2000 personal services request of $8,255,036 reflects an increase of $5,047, or .06%, over the current year's appropriation. This request includes funding for salary increments for all eligible nonjudicial employees as well as annualization of the October 1, 1998 three percent general salary increase for nonjudicial employees. The 1999-2000 non-personal services request of $2,160,063 reflects an increase of $73,136, or 3.5% more than the current year's adjusted appropriation. The requested nonpersonal service appropriation of $2,160,053 includes adjustments in legal reference materials ($19,979), real estate rentals ($15,648), computer-assisted legal research ($25,400), and replacement equipment ($37,278). These increases are partially offset by reductions in utility costs (-$23,960) and miscellaneous contractual services (-$21,043).
The modest increase in the budget request demonstrates the Clerk's continuing commitment to operating the Court in an efficient and economical manner.
In calendar year 1998, the Court reported filing fees of $250 for each of 105 civil appeals. The $26,250 realized was reported to the State Treasury, Office of the State Comptroller and Office of Court Administration pursuant to the Court Facilities Legislation (L 1987, ch 825). Additional revenues were realized through the slip opinion distribution service ($28,200), the computer bulletin board access service ($2,100) and miscellaneous collections ($1,905.43). For calendar year 1998, revenue collections totaled $58,455.43.
H. Public Information
The Public Information Officer, assisted by a part time secretary, provides information concerning the work and history of New York's highest court to all segments of the public -- from school children to media representatives to members of the Bar. Throughout the year, the Public Information Officer and other members of the Clerk's Office staff conduct tours of the historic Courtroom for visitors.
The Public Information Office disseminates the Court's decisions upon release. The decisions on cases and motions also are listed on the Court's computer Bulletin Board. The Public Information Officer prepares monthly for public use a descriptive summary of cases to be argued before the Court. A version of that summary is now posted monthly on the Bulletin Board and is available in print form at Court of Appeals Hall. During 1998, the Public Information Office maintained the list of subscribers to the Court's slip opinions and handled requests from the public for individual slip opinions.
I. Document Reproduction and Court Attendants
The Court's document reproduction unit prepares the Court's decisions for release to the public and handles most of the Court's internal document reproduction needs. Court attendants screen and deliver mail in-house, and maintain the Court's appeal records room, keeping track of and distributing all briefs, records, exhibits and original court files. When Court is in session, the court attendants also assist the Judges in the Courtroom and in conference.
J. Court of Appeals Hall
The Building Manager, Deputy Building Superintendent and their staff are responsible for the excellent condition and beautiful appearance of Court of Appeals Hall and its grounds. The Building Manager and Deputy Building Superintendent also coordinate all work by outside contractors, arrange for transportation of appeal records and other materials between Court of Appeals Hall and the Judges' Home Chambers, and supervise the provision of security services by the building guards.
This past year witnessed the successful completion of the Court's portrait conservation and restoration program, performed by the Bureau of Historic Sites of the New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. During 1998, the building maintenance staff finished renovating and rewiring the Central Legal Research Staff offices. Other major projects undertaken included improvements to the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and rewiring the building to connect all computer workstations to one network. Also in 1998, the Building Manager's staff recycled 33,760 pounds of white paper, as well as other solid waste materials. Finally, the building maintenance staff provided invaluable assistance in preparing for the Court's 1998 Law Day celebration held, for the first time, on the steps of the Courthouse.
K. Computer Operations
The two-person Information Systems Department oversees all aspects of the Court's computer operations. The IS Department maintains a Help Desk for technical support for both hardware and software on a permanent basis. IS staff respond to an estimated 500 calls per year -- in person where possible, by telephone in long distance emergencies, and through vendor or manufacturer technical support when necessary. Training for new software and for software unfamiliar to new employees is scheduled as needed. In 1998, more than 40 employees attended various training seminars and software classes addressing beginner to advanced skills. Y2K compliance remains an ongoing priority. Most systems already comply, but adjustments continued to be made throughout the year as manufacturers communicated the need therefor.
During 1998, the IS staff initiated a "House Calls to Home Chambers" program, scheduling visits to the remote Home Chambers on a rotating basis at least once every six weeks. Also in 1998, a committee was formed to develop a replacement for the Court's computerized Bulletin Board, begun nearly ten years ago to allow subscribers to download Court of Appeals decisions and opinions.
With the assistance of an Assistant Deputy Clerk and an outside consultant, and the ready cooperation of the Clerk's Staff, the Court's AS/400 was upgraded to full OS400 operating system capability in 1998. A multitude of successfully completed projects brought all Court of Appeals computer users into the same operating and applications threshold, which allows for more efficient maintenance and support of equipment, better training, and freer exchange of information and ideas. All workstations now run on Windows NT4.0. This achievement entailed configuring and installing new computers for 60 workstations, and modem connections where necessary, plus end user training and familiarization. Nearly all printers were replaced with HP Laserjets, which are compatible with each other and the Windows NT operating system. All workstations, hubs and servers in the Courthouse now use Ethernet network protocol. Three Home Chambers were completely rewired to bring them up to standards. Additionally, the IS Department received and began configuring seven new Dell file servers, with installation scheduled for early 1999. Finally, CD-ROM file servers were installed in each Home Chambers and in Albany to allow use of CD-ROM research software through the network. Aided by a member of the Building Manager's staff, the IS Department continued to maintain its database of inventory records for the Court.
L. Fire and Safety
During 1998, the Fire and Safety Committee met to review building safety requirements. Nine employees received Red Cross certificates for Standard First Aid and Community CPR skill levels.
The Clerk acknowledges the presence, professionalism and expertise of the State Police officers assigned to Court of Appeals Hall during 1998.
The following personnel changes occurred during 1998:
Rosemarie Fitzpatrick, formerly Secretary to Court of Appeals Judge Joseph W. Bellacosa, was appointed Principal Stenographer to Court of Appeals in January 1998.
Kathleen M. Vakiener was employed as Telephone Operator (temporary) in January 1998.
Linda T. Kaczmarek was employed as Clerical Research Aide in March 1998.
Charles C. Wager was employed as First Assistant Building Superintendent in April 1998.
Vivian Ali was employed as Telephone Operator (temporary) in July 1998.
Randy A. Bohannon was employed as per diem Court Building Guard (temporary) in July 1998 and appointed as permanent Court Building Guard in October 1998.
Travis R. Moore was promoted from Services Aide to Senior Services Aide in March 1998.
Christopher Fludd was promoted from Building Guard to Senior Building Guard in October 1998.
David A. Baker, Senior Assistant Building Superintendent, retired on December 10, 1998, after 24 years and five months of service.
Burage S. Olsen, Senior Assistant Building Superintendent, resigned January 15, 1998, after 3 years and 2 months of service.
Zainab A. Chaudhry, J. Matthew Donohue, Vaughn E. James, Barbara Comninos Kruzansky, Carol B. Pressman and Leah M. Soule were appointed Court Attorneys in August 1998.
Teresa A. Bruce, James A. Costello, Erika Duthiers, Joanne M. Harvey, Craig Hurley-Leslie, Tiffany H. Lee and Melissa E. Osborne were promoted from Court Attorneys to Senior Court Attorneys in August 1998.
COMPLETION OF CLERKSHIP:
Senior Court Attorneys Lisa M. Connelly, Jason E. Markel, Theresa B. Moser, Elizabeth O'Leary, Paul Ryneski and John L. Sinatra completed their clerkships in August 1998.
The members of the Clerk's Office staff contribute to the production of this Report by providing numerical data, narrative reports, and editing and proofreading services. I thank all of them, and mention specially Mary Ellen Cadalso, who compiled and prepared many of the detailed appendices, William Fitzpatrick, who produced the copies, Terri Buel and Hope Engel, who provided proofreading services, and Marjorie McCoy, whose editorial and compilational work was invaluable.
Throughout 1998, the Clerk's Office staff and the Building Manager's staff worked to ensure the efficient and courteous running of the Court. Again, I thank each staff member for helping provide the Bar and public exemplary service. A complete list of nonjudicial personnel appears in Appendix 11.