2014 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 2014.
2. Publishing Activity. The LRB published in print and electronically 54,447 opinions, memoranda, abstracts and appellate motions in 2014 — a decrease of 2.43% from 2013 — all of which are publicly accessible on the LRB's website.
A. Print publication. During 2014, the LRB prepared for publication three 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 18 bound volumes, as planned. One soft-cover interim volume of the New York Reports, 3d Series, also was published.
In addition, 53 weekly advance sheets and six bi-monthly Cumulative Tables and Index pamphlets were issued. These advance sheets contained 11,710 full opinions, memorandum decisions, and abstracts of opinions not published in print; 20,305 pages of opinions, memoranda and abstracts; and 12,598 headnotes, allocated as follows:
Compared to the prior year, the number of opinions, memoranda and abstracts decreased .36%; pages increased 2.29%; and the number of headnotes decreased 5.36%.
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 6,196 Appellate Term and trial court opinions were published only in electronic format in 2014, a decrease of 7.70% from the prior year.
• Motion decisions of the Appellate Division and Appellate Term. A total of 36,541 motion decisions were published electronically in 2014, a decrease of 2.15% from the prior year.
3. Selection of lower court opinions. During 2014, a total of 7,114 Appellate Term and trial court opinions were submitted for publication consideration, a decrease of 4.8% compared to 2013. One hundred sixty-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 444 for publication in the Miscellaneous Reports and 6,196 for online publication, for a total of 6,640 acceptances, a decrease of approximately 7.64% compared to 2013. The overall acceptance rate is 93.3%, a decrease of 2.7% from the prior year.
4. Website usage. Usage of the LRB website grew again in 2014. A total of 952,706 separate visitors accessed the site, making 3,084,431 visits and 84,357,938 requests for information. Compared to the prior year, visitors increased by 9.85%; visits increased by 7.02%; and requests decreased by 14.86%.
5. Style Manual.
A total of 299 copies of the printed Official Reports Style Manual were distributed to judges, court staff and others in 2014. An additional 16,863 copies were downloaded from the LRB website.
6. Product development. The LRB continued to enhance its online services and website in 2014.
The LRB initiated a project to obtain from the official publisher 1st and 2d Series Official Reports data for development of an online Official Reports archive. When complete, the searchable archive will integrate the entire past and present New York, Appellate Division and Miscellaneous collections of the Official Reports and the text of the decisions—New York’s common law—will be available at no cost to users of the public LRB website.
7. Personnel. The LRB staff numbered 29 at the close of 2014.
• Legal Editors Gordon Eddy and Stephen Carroll and Law Reporting Aide Michelle Nottke resigned.
• Senior Legal Editor Michael Manning retired after more than 25 years of service.
• Attorneys Kristen Quaresimo, Kayleigh Gekakis, Heath Hardman and Matthew Dunn joined the LRB’s editorial staff.
• Eric Van Hall joined the LRB as a Computer Systems Programmer.
• Jennifer Davidick joined the LRB as a Law Reporting Assistant.
• Legal Editor Katie Breitenbach was promoted to Senior Legal Editor.
• Evacuation and Emergency Procedures were recirculated to staff in January as part of an annual reminder protocol. Additionally, Floor Warden responsibilities were reissued to the designated floor wardens.
• Maintenance inspections of the Automated External Defibrillation (AED) equipment were conducted on a monthly basis.
9. Equipment. The LRB acquired the following new equipment to replace obsolete/outdated assets:
• Seven used Windows 7 laptops (Dell E5400) were obtained from OCA to replace the aging laptops currently used by remote users.
• Under the terms of the publishing contract, West Publishing purchased new PCs and color printers to replace the PCs and printers used by LRB staff since 2011.
10. 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 2014 include:
• The LRB introduced new software for editing .pdf documents (FoxIt Phantom) and the LRB website (Microsoft Expression Web).
• The LRB completed its transition from the Court of Appeals Domain to the UCS Domain and the migration from GroupWise to Outlook as its email client.
• Microsoft Office 365 was installed on all staff PCs in preparation for the court system’s eventual transition to Word as the system-wide word processor. WordPerfect continues to be the Bureau’s primary word processor for the immediate future.
• XML was rolled out as the LRB’s markup language after more than two years of collaborative development by LRB and West Publishing programmers. All documents sent to the publisher have the new XML markup. The use of XML provides significant opportunities for the LRB to, among other things, enhance the functionality of the LRB’s website; develop an internal document type definition (DTD) that assures the LRB’s capability to seamlessly transition publishing operations whenever necessary; and create an online archive of the complete 1st, 2d and 3d Series of the Official Reports.
• To accommodate the eventual transition from WordPerfect to Word, LRB programmers began to rewrite hundreds of macros employed in our daily operations.
• The LRB installed Zoom Search, a new search engine for the LRB intranet server. The Zoom search engine provides faster and more powerful full-text searching, and indexes more file formats, than the prior search engine.
• The LRB Bulletin Board—designed to facilitate communication among staff on issues that arise during the editorial and proofreading processes—was deployed for testing. This in-house bulletin board will be available on the Bureau’s intranet and is designed to, among other things, provide a forum for staff to seek input on unfamiliar or unsettled editorial matters and further promote editorial uniformity across the Bureau’s various publications.
• To facilitate communication among technology team members and between them and management, a spreadsheet-based assignment/update system was created. The system is designed to better allow technology staff and management to monitor the progress of technology projects and coordinate related tasks.
11. Continuing Legal Education (CLE). The LRB presented and attended the following CLE programs in 2014.
• The LRB presented its Annual Survey of Attorney Disciplinary Proceedings continuing legal education program at the LRB and the Court of Appeals. The survey, the eighth 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.
• Members of the LRB's staff attended various CLE programs, including: "Lone Rangers of the Third Department: Tough Cases, Independent Voices, Vindicated Dissents," "Court Examiner Update," "Criminal Law – Calculation of State Prison Sentences and Preserving Appellate Remedies," "The Law and Ethics of Social Networking and Online Activity," "Actual Innocence and Forensic Science, An Examination of Wrongful Convictions," "Recent Developments in New York Practice" and the Hugh R. Jones Memorial Lecture at Albany Law School entitled "The Appellate Division—Middle Kingdom of the Judiciary."
12. Professional and Volunteer activities. LRB staff members participated in various professional activities, community events and charitable causes.
• Members of the LRB’s technology team attended various training courses and workshops in connection with OCA’s deployment of MS Outlook as the court system’s new email client.
• Bill Hooks attended the New York State Bar Association annual meeting, including a session of the Intellectual Property Law Section and Committee on Attorneys in Public Service, in New York City.
• Bill Hooks attended a meeting of the Executive Board of the Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions at the Supreme Court of the United States.
• Eric Harrell and Nicole Kappes attended OCA LAN Committee meetings throughout the year.
• In June, Eric Van Hall and John Lesniak attended an online OCA seminar on web content.
• Bill Hooks attended the annual meeting of the Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions in Denver, Colorado. He completed his term as president and will continue to serve as a member of the Executive Board of the Association through August 2015.
• In October, Bill Hooks addressed a meeting of the Judicial Section of the New York County Lawyers' Association to discuss the general operations of the LRB and the selection and editing of trial court opinions for official publication.
• In May, an LRB team including Michelle Nottke, Nancy LaPorta, Lori Drumm and Kristen Quaresimo participated in the 2014 CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge 3.5 mile race in downtown Albany.
• Milagros Figueroa chaired 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.
• The LRB continued its annual holiday tradition of "adopting" families through the Ronald McDonald House. Gifts donated and purchased through staff contributions were delivered to Ronald McDonald “Family Room” in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) at Albany Medical Center.
• The LRB participated in the “Give Thanks” food drive to benefit the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. Five boxes (over 100+ lbs.) of nonperishable food and personal care items were collected, as well as monetary donations.
13. Visits and visitors. Among visits made in 2014:
• Bill Hooks, Mike Moran and Kathy LaBoda attended the State of the Judiciary address by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and Law Day ceremonies at the Court of Appeals.
• LRB management met with representatives of West Publishing to discuss various matters involving administration of the 2011-15 Official Reports Publishing Contract.
• Bill Hooks attended a presentation sponsored by The Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York in April at Albany Law School entitled, “Illustrious Alumni: Bronson, Brewer, Matthews & Jackson.”
• Julianne Claydon, the Court of Appeals’ newly appointed Chief Legal Reference Attorney, visited the Bureau for a tour of Centennial Hall and an orientation on the Bureau’s editorial work and print and online publications.
• Bill Hooks, Kelli Flansburg and Katie Breitenbach attended a farewell ceremony for Judge Graffeo at Court of Appeals Hall.
• Bill Hooks and Kathy LaBoda attended a farewell ceremony for Judge Smith at Court of Appeals Hall.
14. Organization. Of significance in 2014:
• A meeting of the LRB's management group was held in January to review the LRB's progress in completing its 2013 objectives and to discuss objectives for 2014.
• A staff meeting was held to review new software and procedures for advance sheet and bound volume paging review and HTML editing for the LRB’s website.
• Founders Day, April 7, marked the 210th anniversary of the enactment of legislation creating the system of official law reporting in New York.
• Nicole Kappes conducted two sessions of Outlook training for LRB staff in anticipation of the rollout of Outlook as the LRB’s email client.
• Kayleigh Gekakis presented introductory training sessions on WestLawNext for LRB staff.
• Monthly management/technology team meetings were introduced to discuss the status of current projects, update the technology project schedule and plan future initiatives.
• Separate meetings of the publishing contract team were held to complete a three-part workshop on the official publishing contract and alternatives to traditional contracting, and to discuss the timetable and tasks for 2016-20 publishing contract bid process.