2013 Annual Report of the State Reporter
1. Introduction. The New York State Law Reporting Bureau (LRB), established under article 14 of the Judiciary Law, edits and publishes all of the decisions of the Court of Appeals and the Appellate Division, as well as selected decisions of the lower courts. These decisions are published in the New York Official Reports, which include the New York Reports, the Appellate Division Reports and the Miscellaneous Reports. Motion decisions of the Appellate Division and Appellate Term and additional lower court opinions are published only online. The LRB operates under the direction of a State Reporter appointed by the Court of Appeals, with a designated Judge of the Court
— currently Judge Eugene F. Pigott, Jr. — serving as the Court's liaison to the LRB. This is a report of the LRB's activities in 2013.
2. Court-PASS. The Court of Appeals Public Access and Search System (Court-PASS)
— designed and developed jointly by Court of Appeals staff and the LRB technology team
— was unveiled in January. Court-PASS, accessible at https://www.nycourts.gov/ctapps/courtpass/, provides free access to Court of Appeals materials for cases, including records and briefs, pending on or filed after January 1, 2013. The Court-PASS database offers three retrieval methods: the docket, a browse function and a search function. Additionally, to safeguard Court-PASS data, the LRB configured and set up Court-PASS SQL transaction log shipping, a low cost process of automating the backup of Court-PASS databases on the production server and then restoring them onto a standby server.
3. Publishing Activity. The LRB published in print and electronically 55,807 opinions, memoranda, abstracts and appellate motions in 2013
— an increase of .8% from 2012 — all of which are publicly accessible on the LRB's website.
A. Print publication. During 2013, the LRB prepared for publication two volumes of the New York Reports, 3d Series; 11 volumes of the Appellate Division Reports, 3d Series; and four volumes of the Miscellaneous Reports, 3d Series, for a total of 17 bound volumes, as planned. Two soft-cover interim volumes of the New York Reports, 3d Series, also were published.
In addition, 52 weekly advance sheets and six bi-monthly Cumulative Tables and Index pamphlets were issued. These advance sheets contained 11,752 full opinions, memorandum decisions, and abstracts of opinions not published in print; 19,850 pages of opinions, memoranda and abstracts; and 13,308 headnotes, allocated as follows:
| 3,983 Opinion
| 923 Opinion
Compared to the prior year, the number of opinions, memoranda and abstracts decreased 8.7%; pages decreased 5.5%; and the number of headnotes increased 1.5%.
B. Electronic publication. All decisions published in print also are published electronically. In addition, the LRB publishes the following decisions only electronically:
- Appellate term and trial court opinions not published in the printed Miscellaneous Reports. A total of 6,713 Appellate Term and trial court opinions were published only in electronic format in 2013, an increase of 12.4% from the prior year.
- Motion decisions of the Appellate Division and Appellate Term. A total of 37,342 motion decisions were published electronically in 2013, an increase of 1.1% from the prior year.
4. Selection of lower court opinions. During 2013, a total of 7,475 Appellate Term and trial court opinions were submitted for publication consideration, an increase of 11.8% compared to 2012. Two hundred thirty-four opinions published on websites or in legal newspapers, or otherwise brought to our attention, were solicited from the authoring judges for publication.
Of the opinions submitted, the LRB accepted 473 for publication in the Miscellaneous Reports and 6,713 for online publication, for a total of 7,186 acceptances, an increase of approximately 12.5% compared to 2012. The overall acceptance rate is 96%, an increase of 1% from the prior year.
5. Website usage. Usage of the LRB website grew again in 2013. A total of 867,313 separate visitors accessed the site, making 2,882,051 visits and 99,087,440 requests for information. Compared to the prior year, visitors increased by 41.6%; visits increased by 13.3%; and requests increased by 26.5%.
6. Style Manual.
- A total of 310 copies of the printed Official Reports Style Manual were distributed to judges, court staff and others in 2013. An additional 14,725 copies were downloaded from the LRB website.
- West completed registration of the copyright for the 2012 Official Style Manual with the United States Copyright Office in the name of the Unified Court System as required by the 2011-15 Publishing Contract.
- The 2012 Style Manual was amended in September to update certain existing citation examples and to add some new examples. The changes were highlighted in the online version of the Manual.
7. Product development. The LRB continued to enhance its online services and website in 2013.
- In cooperation with the subcommittee on technology of the Commercial Division Advisory Council, the LRB developed and deployed in July on its website a searchable database of Commercial Division decisions. The database permits Commercial Division-specific browsing and word searching of decisions. The impetus for creation of the database grew out of the report on the Task Force on Commercial Litigation in the 21st Century in June 2012.
- A new search form was added to the Style Manual page on the LRB website to enable the search utility's use on the Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox web browsers.
- West representatives and LRB management planned further improvements to the Official Reports on WestlawNext (WLN): the Official Reports Digest, now available as a stand-alone tool, will be hyperlinked to headnotes in individual cases allowing seamless use of the Digest in conjunction with standard case law searches; and West will continue to develop programs to deliver value-weighted results for Official Reports searches highlighting the most relevant cases in a result list. Further, a plan has been implemented for transition of the LRB's automated editorial processes from Westlaw Classic to WLN.
8. Personnel. The LRB staff numbered 27 at the close of 2013, the same as 2012.
Wesley Chest was promoted to the position of Senior Computer Systems Programmer, effective May 23, 2013.
- In connection with Emergency Procedures for Centennial Hall, maintenance inspections of the Automated External Defibrillation (AED) equipment were conducted on a monthly basis.
- Evacuation and Emergency Procedures were recirculated to staff in February as part of an annual reminder protocol. Floor Wardens were also reissued a list of their duties in the event of an emergency.
- An evacuation drill was successfully conducted in October.
10. Equipment. The LRB acquired the following new equipment to replace obsolete/outdated assets:
- An HP server and a Network Attached Storage drive. The server replaced an out-of-warranty server and will be used for the following network functions: LRB intranet, Windows Server Update Service and production backup. The storage drive provides additional backup options.
- New PCs and color printers. Under the terms of the publishing contract, West Publishing purchased this equipment to replace the PCs and printers used by LRB staff since 2011.
11. Editorial and office technology. The LRB continued to employ computer solutions to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of office and editorial functions. Projects completed or introduced in 2013 include:
- A program that automates preparation of Points of Counsel for Court of Appeals opinions by downloading briefs from Court-PASS.
- An Extensible Markup Language (XML) project that will convert the Bureau's current hybrid markup to a single modern markup language for slip opinions and for the LRB's edited product. Conversion to XML will simplify the coding that is currently required to mark up documents and allow the LRB to create its own tags, enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between internal computer applications and between the LRB, its publisher and other outside organizations.
- Development of software, using data provided by West Publishing, that allows the LRB to integrate all statutory updates in our comprehensive listings of New York Consolidated Laws and commonly-cited state and federal regulations that are used in various automated tasks including Table of Statutes entries, statutory "preverification" and our Miscellaneous selection and classification operations. West's biannual provision of this data will ensure that the LRB's statutory database remains current and will allow the office to realize significant time savings by eliminating the need to manually update the listings.
- Development of a macro to identify determinations whether or not to accept rule 500.27 certified questions in Court of Appeals decision lists, remove them from the usual opinion/mem processing stream so that they can be ultimately processed as short motions, and assign them appropriate slip opinion citations.
- A workshop to instruct LRB staff in the use of an HTML editor and an image editor, the tools necessary to create or edit basic web pages. These tools will enable staff to, among other things, add and edit editorial and production procedures that are posted on the LRB's intranet.
12. Continuing Legal Education (CLE). The LRB presented and attended the following CLE programs in 2013.
- Bill Hooks and Mike Manning presented the LRB's Annual Survey of Attorney Disciplinary Proceedings continuing legal education program at the LRB and the Court of Appeals in February. The survey, the seventh in an ongoing series, is drawn from officially reported disciplinary decisions.
- The LRB presented the annual CLE program "Preparation of Opinions for Publication in the Official Reports" to new Judges' Clerks and Central Staff members at Court of Appeals Hall in October. Faculty members were Bill Hooks, Mike Moran, Kelli Flansburg and Maureen Clements.
- Members of the LRB's staff attended various CLE programs, including: "Prison Law and the Rights of Prisoners," "Estate Planning Basics," "Recent Developments in New York Practice," "Matrimonial Update," "Domestic Violence Law: Avoiding Unintended Negative Outcomes," "Ethics Update and Selected Hypotheticals," and "Hot Topics in Workers' Compensation Law."
13. Professional and Volunteer activities. LRB staff members participated in various professional activities, community events and charitable causes.
- Eric Harrell attended OCA LAN Committee meetings in February, May, June and July.
- Bill Hooks attended meetings of the Executive Board of the Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions in April and November at the Supreme Court of the United States.
- Eric Harrell and Nicole Kappes attended OCA-sponsored Microsoft Office 365, Lync mobile application training.
- Eric Harrell attended classes for "Administering Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Databases."
- In cooperation with the Historical Society of the New York Courts, the LRB completed its editing of oral histories by former Court of Appeals Judges Sol Wachtler, Stewart Hancock and Richard Wesley.
- Eric Harrell successfully completed New Horizons Excel (level 1, 2 and 3) training courses.
- Nicole Kappes successfully completed Windows MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate) certification.
- Bill Hooks attended the annual meeting of the Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions in Washington, D.C. He was elected president and member of the Executive Board of the Association for a one-year term commencing August 1, 2013.
- Bill Hooks presented a continuing education course at the annual Court of Claims Judges' Conference in September. Topics discussed included the editing and publishing of decisions in the Miscellaneous Reports, the selection process for trial court opinions and the distinction between online and print publication.
- In October, Bill Hooks presented "Reporting New York's Common Law: The Law Reporting Bureau, the State Reporter and Official Publication of the New York Court Opinions" at the annual conference of the Association of Law Librarians of Upstate New York.
- Bill Hooks attended the Hugh R. Jones Memorial Lecture at Albany Law School in November. Hon. Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, former Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, presented "Judicial Independence: Is It Impaired by the Election of Judges."
- In November, Bill Hooks addressed a meeting of the Supreme Court Committee of the New York County Lawyers' Association in Manhattan. Topics discussed included selection of opinions for publication, editing and headnoting of opinions, distinctions between print and electronic publication of opinions and use of the Law Reporting Bureau's website.
- An LRB team including Michelle Nottke and Nancy LaPorta participated in the 2013 CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge 3.5 mile race in downtown Albany.
- Cindy DeViddio, Lori Drumm and Gordon Eddy earned certifications in CPR, First Aid and Automated External Defibrillation (AED) in June through a training program sponsored by the Court of Appeals.
- Milagros Figueroa again volunteered to chair the State Employees Federated Appeal campaign for the LRB.
- The LRB received an Award for Excellence based upon per capita giving to the State Employees Federated Appeal campaign.
- LRB staff continued its annual holiday tradition of "adopting" families through the Ronald McDonald House at Albany Medical Center. Cindy DeViddio and Maureen Clements coordinated collection and delivery of the donated items.
14. Visits and visitors. Among visits made in 2013:
- Bill Hooks, Mike Moran and Kathy LaBoda attended the State of the Judiciary address by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in February.
- Bill Hooks, Mike Moran and Kathy LaBoda attended the unveiling of the portrait of Judge Theodore Jones at Court of Appeals Hall in February.
- Bill Hooks, Mike Moran and Kathy LaBoda met with Judge Jenny Rivera in February and Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam in May to discuss the interaction between the LRB and Judges' chambers in editing and publishing decisions.
- Bill Hooks, Mike Moran and Kathy LaBoda attended the investitures of Judge Jenny Rivera and Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam at Court of Appeals Hall.
- Bill Hooks, Kelli Flansburg and Gail Nassif attended the Seventh Annual Chief Judge Lawrence H. Cooke State Constitutional Symposium at Albany Law School on March 21. The Judges of the Court of Appeals presented "The New York Court of Appeals: The Untold Secrets of Eagle Street."
- LRB management met with representatives of West Publishing in April to discuss various matters involving administration of the 2011-15 Official Reports Publishing Contract. Among the agenda items were continuing development of the Official Reports on the WestlawNext (WLN) platform, periodic reporting of Official Reports on WLN usage, West advertising of Official Reports products, resumption of a project to transition to an XML publishing standard and the LRB's projected needs for West-supplied computer equipment through January 2014.
- Bill Hooks, Mike Moran and Kathy LaBoda attended Law Day ceremonies at the Court of Appeals in May.
- Chief Administrative Judge A. Gail Prudenti and other members of the Office of Court Administration visited Centennial Hall in May.
- In October, Bill Hooks joined Judge Eugene Pigott, Jr. in addressing a visiting political science class from LeMoyne College, Syracuse, New York.
15.Organization. Of significance in 2013:
- A meeting of the LRB's management group was held in January to review the LRB's progress in completing its 2012 objectives and to discuss objectives for 2013.
- Founders Day, April 7, marked the 209th anniversary of the enactment of legislation creating the system of official law reporting in New York.
- LRB management completed two of the three phases of a project to review the Official Reports Publishing Contract and evaluate the contracting process. Participants discussed potential changes to terms of future contracts and the LRB's options in a variety of hypothetical bidding scenarios, including the feasibility and logistics of self-publishing and an electronic only publishing contract.
- In October, a staff meeting of LRB attorneys was held to discuss new procedures for caching Internet documents to the LRB website and capturing otherwise unpublished trial court opinions for website publication. Both procedures will assure future access to documents cited in published decisions that would otherwise be difficult to obtain, if not impossible to locate due to the linkrot phenomenon, and to provide enduring citations for these documents.
- In December, a meeting of LRB staff was held to discuss the LRB's overall performance in 2013 and preparation for the rollout of new computers and printers.