Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: July 31, 2006

Seal of the Unified Court System

Focus Groups Yield Recommendations for Improving Court Operations and Commercial Practice in New York
Groups Urge Exportation of Successful Features of Commercial Division to Other State Courts

NEW YORK - The recommendations and findings of statewide focus groups created to examine the operations of the Commercial Division of the State Supreme Court are being presented today to Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye in a comprehensive report compiled by the Office of Court Administration.

The Focus Groups, composed of current and retired judges, prominent commercial litigators and in-house counsel of major corporations, convened in five locations throughout New York between December 2005 and February 2006. The groups were charged with identifying areas of the Commercial Division and commercial practice in New York needing improvement, as well as generating a list of Commercial Division innovations that could be used to advantage in other courts. The discussions were moderated by Robert L. Haig, Esq., of the law firm Kelley Drye & Warren.

“The focus groups have come back with cheering news,” said Chief Judge Kaye. “The Commercial Division is functioning successfully and is a source of innovations for other New York courts. The information gleaned from these focus groups will help to effectuate improvements in the court system and contribute toward a stronger commercial practice in New York. I am sincerely grateful to all the members of the focus groups for their contributions and in particular to Bob Haig for his leadership role in this project.” Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman said, “The focus groups developed from the Commercial Division a ‘best practices guide,’ so to speak, of successful innovations that could be exported to other tribunals within New York. This will undoubtedly enhance the operations of other courts and help them to achieve the efficacy that is the hallmark of the Commercial Division.”

The focus groups identified a dozen features of the Commercial Division that could be used in other courts, including:
∙ increased use of e-filing
∙ proactive involvement of judges in settlement and alternative dispute resolution
∙ supporting the use of more technology at trial
∙ page limits on motion papers
∙ mandatory pre-motion conferences prior to the filing of discovery motions
∙ uniform rules
∙ proactive, hands-on, but adaptable case management
∙ mandatory notice of applications for temporary restraining orders, except in extraordinary circumstances
∙ addressing electronic discovery issues at an early conference

Mr. Haig commented, “We are grateful for all of the time and thought which so many highly experienced lawyers and judges have devoted to this project. We look forward to hearing the bar’s reactions to these proposals.”

The Commercial Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York was first established in 1995. There are currently nine Commercial Division courts operating full-time throughout the state in Albany, Erie, Kings, Nassau, New York, Queens, Suffolk and Westchester Counties and the Seventh Judicial District (comprising Monroe, Wayne, Ontario, Livingston, Yates, Seneca, Steuben and Cayuga Counties).

The report of the Commercial Division Focus Groups can be accessed from the court system’s website at The Commercial Division website is

Web page updated: August 16, 2006