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Caines reports
George Caines
Born in 1771, George Caines holds the distinction of being the first official Reporter on this continent. Appointed by the State Supreme Court, pursuant to New York legislation, he served in this capacity from 1804 until 1805, producing three volumes of the Reports, which reported decisions from May 1803 to November 1805. In 1802, prior to becoming Reporter, Caines was a counselor-at-law in New York City, where he published the first volume of Lex Mercatoria Americana. He also presented the case for the prosecution in People v Croswell (3 Johns Cas 337 [1804]), a celebrated libel case. While serving as Reporter, he also compiled and published two volumes of Cases Argued and Determined in the Court for the Trial of Impeachments and the Correction of Errors in the State of New York (known as Caines’ Cases in Error). He edited a second edition of William Coleman’s Reports of Cases of Practice Determined in the Supreme Court of Judicature of the State of New York 1794 to 1800 (known as Coleman and Caines’ Cases). Additionally, Caines authored and published a practice manual, Summary of the Practice in the Supreme Court of the State of New York (1808) and Practical Forms of the Supreme Court of New York taken from Tidd’s Appendix. When Caines’ term of service ended as Reporter, he returned to private practice in New York City. He collaborated with Washington Irving on Irving’s first book, a translation of F. De Pons’ A Voyage to the Spanish Main (1806). As a prominent member of the New York bar in 1816, Caines successfully represented a passenger against members of the crew in a unique suit for an assault and battery that took place on a British ship (Duffie v Matthewson, 2 Am St Trials 901 [1814]). He married Cornelia Johnston, the widow of Gulian Verplanck, on May 27, 1802 in the Trinity Church, New York City. Caines was a Master in Chancery, an assistant to the Chancellor. He was a founder in 1819 of the Missionary and Bible Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He died suddenly in Catskill, New York, on July 10, 1825, while en route to his residence in Windham, and is buried in the Thompson Street Cemetery in Catskill.
William Johnson
William Johnson
The second official Reporter of New York was born on December 17, 1769 in Middletown, Connecticut. William Johnson graduated from Yale College in 1788, studied law, and, following admission to the bar, became a practicing lawyer in New York City. As a prominent figure in New York’s turn-of-the-century intellectual and literary communities, Johnson was instrumental in the founding of the New-York Historical Society and in the creation of the New York public school system, while also serving as a trustee of Columbia College. While in New York City, Johnson befriended James Kent, who in 1798 was appointed Justice of the New York Supreme Court. In 1806, Kent, who had risen to Chief Justice, installed Johnson as Reporter of the Supreme Court. During the next 18 years he published 20 volumes of the Reports. Additionally, Johnson published seven volumes of the Cases of the State Court of the Chancery from 1814 to 1823; three volumes of Johnson’s Cases, covering Supreme Court decisions from 1799 to 1803; Digest of Cases in the Supreme Court of New York from 1799 to 1836; and a translation from the French of The Maritime Law of Europe, by M.D.A. Azuni. In the North American Review (July 1820), Justice Joseph Story said of Johnson, “No lawyer can ever express a better wish for his country’s jurisprudence than that it may possess such a Chancellor [as Kent] and such a reporter [as Johnson].” In 1809, Johnson married Maria Templeton; they had four children. William Johnson died on June 25, 1848 in New York City at the age of 79.

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