2017 Annual Report of the State Reporter
1. Introduction. The New York State Law Reporting Bureau (LRB) was established under article 14 of the Judiciary Law to officially report New York court decisions. 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 Leslie E. Stein - serving as the Court's liaison to the LRB. All of the decisions of the Court of Appeals and the Appellate Division and selected decisions of the lower courts are edited and published in print and online versions of 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. This is a report of the LRB's activities in 2017.
2. Style Manual published. The 2017 Edition of the Official Reports Style Manual, approved by the Court of Appeals, was published in December, replacing the 2012 Edition. Chief Judge Janet DiFiore provided a foreword. The 2017 Edition leaves largely intact the rules that users are familiar with, but updates citation formats and examples, adds new examples, clarifies some existing rules, and supplements others to provide greater guidance.
3. Committee on Opinions. Following the retirement of Associate Justice David B. Saxe, Associate Justice Rosalyn H. Richter was appointed to serve as the Appellate Division, First Department's member of the Committee on Opinions. The Committee reviews decisions of the State Reporter rejecting opinions submitted for publication in the Miscellaneous Reports when those rejections are appealed by the authoring judge. The Committee is established pursuant to section 7300.7 of the Rules Concerning Publication of Opinions in the Miscellaneous Reports (22 NYCRR) and comprises one Justice from each of the departments of the Appellate Division. The Presiding Justice of each department designates that department's representative on the Committee on Opinions.
4. Publishing activity. The LRB published in print and electronically 59,325 opinions, memoranda, abstracts and appellate motions in 2017 - an increase of 8.7% from 2016. The Official Reports are published in print and online pursuant to a five-year commercial publishing contract, currently held by Thomson Reuters West; consequently, Thomson Reuters Westlaw is the sole online commercial source of the complete New York Official Reports through December 31, 2020. A free, public access version of the Official Reports is also available on the Law Reporting Bureau website at
A. Print publication. During 2017, 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 11,808 full opinions, memorandum decisions, and abstracts of opinions not published in print; 21,543 pages of opinions, memoranda and abstracts; and 13,093 headnotes, allocated as follows:
Compared to the prior year, the number of opinions, memoranda and abstracts increased 11.9%; pages increased 11%; and the number of headnotes increased 4.1%.
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 5,297 Appellate Term and trial court opinions were published only in electronic format in 2017, an increase of 1.6 % from the prior year.
- Motion decisions of the Appellate Division and Appellate Term. A total of 42,220 motion decisions were published electronically in 2017, an increase of 8.8% from the prior year.
5. Selection of lower court opinions. During 2017, a total of 5,984 Appellate Term and trial court opinions were submitted for publication consideration, an increase of less than 1% compared to 2016. One hundred sixty-eight 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 448 for publication in the Miscellaneous Reports and 5,297 for online publication, for a total of 5,745 acceptances, an increase of approximately 1.1% compared to 2016.
6. Website usage. Usage of the LRB website remained strong in 2017. A total of 960,732 visitors accessed the site, making 3,401,676 visits. Compared to the prior year, visitors decreased by 15.58% and visits decreased by 14.48%. The visits resulted in 30,613,048 page views, a decrease of approximately 13.49%, from 2016. In contrast to the decreases in these three usage metrics, repeat visitors remained constant at 22% of total visitors and there was a 23% increase in the average visit duration.
Users downloaded a total of 7,086 copies of the LRB's Electronic Resources User Guide (a tutorial in the use of the Official Reports on Westlaw and the legal research and writing tools provided on the LRB website).
The LRB's Twitter account (@NYOfficialRpts) grew from 175 to 395 Followers.
7. Style Manual.
A total of 3,642 copies of the printed Official Reports Style Manual were distributed to judges, court staff and others in 2017. An additional 15,978 copies were downloaded from the LRB website.
8. Product development. The LRB enhanced its online services and website in 2017.
- The list of Judges of Courts of Record, updated quarterly, was added to the website.
- PDF and HTML versions of the 2017 Official Style Manual were added to the website, allowing users to download the Manual and facilitating use with word search and hyperlinking features.
- Archives of Court of Appeals New Filings were added to the website.
- The LRB Legal Research Portal (http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/research.htm), which provides access to numerous free legal research and writing resources, was updated and links to new sources were added, including the Thurgood Marshall Law Library Guide to Legal Research; the Department of State (DOS) database of local laws filed with the DOS on or after January 1, 1998, and county codes filed on or after April 1, 2015; the new Guide to New York Evidence (the first ever compilation of New York's law of evidence); the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Handbooks; and the New York State Building Code.
9. Personnel. The LRB staff numbered 29 at the close of 2017.
- Deputy State Reporter Kathy LaBoda retired after more than 24 years of service.
- The following staff resigned from the LRB: Legal Typist Sara Patterson, Law Reporting Aide Wendy Harbour, and Legal Editor Heath Hardman.
- The following staff joined the LRB: Susan Baker and Joey Smith (Legal Typists); John Keller (Legal Editor); and Lisa Bohannon (Principal Stenographer).
- The following staff were promoted: Cara Brousseau (Deputy State Reporter); Katherine Breitenbach (Assistant State Reporter); Kristen Quaresimo and Kayleigh Gekakis (Senior Legal Editor); and Jennifer Davidick (Law Reporting Assistant).
- Evacuation and Emergency Procedures were recirculated to staff 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 monthly.
11. Equipment. The LRB acquired the following new equipment to replace obsolete/outdated assets and disposed of unnecessary equipment:
- All PCs were replaced with new equipment provided by the publisher under the terms of the 2016 2020 publishing contract.
- Subversion Windows 10 and Preverification PCs and a VM (Virtual Machine) server were built.
- Retired computer monitors and hard drives were donated to the Town and Village Courts.
- Outdated scanners and cell phones were inventoried to be surplused.
12. Editorial and office technology. The LRB employed various computer solutions to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of office and editorial functions. In addition, the LRB developed programs and adapted internal processes to accommodate current and prospective conversion of appellate court documents to Microsoft Word format.
- LRB programmers developed a replacement application to process newly formatted Appellate Division, First Department, motions; updated the processing macro for Appellate Term, Second Department, motions to accommodate electronic signatures; developed an application and redesigned existing macros to accommodate changes made to electronic submissions of decisions by the Appellate Division, First and Second Departments; developed an integrated package of applications that resolve formatting anomalies and remove text boxes and electronic signatures from Appellate Term, Second Department, decisions; developed an application to address problematic italic character style codes appearing in Appellate Division, Fourth Department, memoranda lists; collaborated with Court of Appeals staff to design Word templates for Court of Appeals decisions and finalized the LRB's automated processes for receipt of Court of Appeals decisions in Word; and assisted with formation of a joint team of LRB, Appellate Division, First Department, and OCA technology staff to prepare for the 2018 submission of that Court's decisions to the LRB in Word.
- The LRB Database team completed design and construction of the LRB Database structure; successfully imported, exported and opened an XML file in the LRB Database; established preliminary connections between tables inside the database, evaluated the use of templates for LRB editorial documents in Word; developed applications to extract data from court documents and import it into the LRB database; developed "Basic Procedures" -functions to be repetitively utilized from a single source by numerous, future LRB applications; developed an application for managing data inside the Judges' table in the LRB Database; initiated user case creation for Appellate Division initial processing and completed the user case process for Court of Appeals and Appellate Division, First and Third Department, processing.
- LRB network administrators imaged and deployed new PCs for all LRB staff; created a centralized PC that allows multiple users to process a single Appellate Division hand down list without jeopardizing the security/privacy of their personal PCs and facilitates uninterrupted processing to minimize disruption of processor's standard daily schedules; placed into service a new Preverification PC that assists with automated review of certain citation information; transitioned LRB to a new OCA Internet Proxy server; created a new PC equipment inventory; updated computer equipment rollout documentation; built new in-house laptops; re-created email notifications for Appellate Division, Fourth Department, hand downs and early release of advance sheets; developed a plan for rollout of the new Outlook security authentication process to LRB staff; and completed a feasibility assessment of the migration of LRB data to the OCA data center.
- An Expression Web User Guide was created to provide step-by-step instructions for editing decisions posted on the LRB website, and for creating and amending procedures and other documents posted on the LRB intranet.
- An automated process was developed to assist with the LRB's editing and composition of the Guide to New York Evidence and a new forum was created on the LRB Bulletin Board to facilitate the editorial process.
- The LRB initiated formal quarterly reporting to assist with joint implementation and monitoring of LRB/West editorial projects under the Official Reports publishing contract. The LRB drafts and circulates the reports, which track progress and note ongoing issues, memorialize project deadlines, and list priorities for existing and new projects, enabling LRB and West management to evaluate performance and make any necessary adjustments to the content and timing of projects.
- The LRB completed the Official Reports Digital Archive project-a collaboration with West to obtain all Official Reports decisions from the First, Second and Third Series in XML format. The LRB now possesses complete digital and print archives of Official Reports decisions dating to the 1800s.
13. Continuing Legal Education (CLE). LRB attorneys attended and presented various CLE programs in 2017.
- The LRB presented a CLE program ("New York's Official Common Law: Publication and Legal Research and Writing Resources") to the Albany County Bar Association and the Appellate Division, Fourth Department. The program, offered on a continuing basis to courts, bar associations and others, provides instruction in the processes employed in editing and publishing decisions, the online tools supplied by the LRB to assist in efficient research of New York law and the drafting of decisions and reports, application of the Official Style Manual, and effective use of online versions of New York's Official Reports on Westlaw and the Law Reporting Bureau's website.
- Members of the LRB's staff attended: "Balancing the Scales of Justice: The Impact of Judicial Diversity"; the Hugh R. Jones Memorial Lecture featuring former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman delivering: "Justice System Reform as an Engine for Social Change"; "Court of Appeals Roundup"; "Recent Developments in Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice"; "Symposium in Honor of Chief Judge Judith Kaye"; "Prenuptial Agreements, Unconscionability and Hearsay Testimony Through the Expert Witness"; "New York Evidence Law Update 2017"; "Ethics and Criminal Justice Hypotheticals"; "Mental Illness: Criminal and Civil Perspectives"; and "The ABCs of Representing LGBTQ+ Individuals."
- The LRB partnered with the Judicial Institute to provide an instructional guide for the annual New Judges School on submission and publication of opinions and use of online Official Reports material and other research and writing resources on the LRB website.
14. Professional and volunteer activities. LRB staff members participated in various professional activities, community events and charitable causes.
- Eric Harrell and Nicole Kappes attended monthly OCA LAN Committee meetings.
- Eric Harrell and Eric Van Hall attended the OCA WordPerfect to Word Conversion Committee meetings.
- Katie Breitenbach attended the American Bar Association's 2017 TECHSHOW-a conference focused exclusively on the integration of technology in the practice of law.
- Eric Harrell attended the OCA training program on multifactor authentication to enhance the security of web access for Outlook.
- Kayleigh Gekakis provided a written tutorial in response to a request by UCS librarians for information on use of the Official Reports Digest on Westlaw.
- Katie Breitenbach and Eric Harrell attended the OCA "Cyber Security" meeting.
- Nicole Kappes attended the OCA "WannaCry Ransomware" meeting.
- Eric Harrell attended the OCA "Microsoft's Local Admin Password Solution (LAPS)" meeting.
- Eric Harrell and Nicole Kappes attended the OCA "Sophos and Internet Proxy Group Policy Change" meeting.
- Cara Brousseau attended and presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Reporters of Judicial Decisions in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The meeting provides a variety of educational programs involving the official publication of court decisions and other issues of significance to official reporters.
- As part of the orientation program for recently appointed Judge Paul G. Feinman, Bill Hooks presented for the Judge and his staff an overview of the LRB operations and the interaction between the LRB and chambers during the editorial and publication process.
- Eric Harrell attended Two Factor Authentication refresher training, as well as the New Horizon "Security +" training course, which covered the fundamentals of managing data security, identifying security threats and vulnerabilities, administering server certificates, implementing security controls and preparing for disaster recovery.
- Guide to New York Evidence: Four installments of the Guide, totaling 38 evidence rules and accompanying notes, were edited, formatted and returned to the Chief Judge's Advisory Committee on Evidence for publication online at http://nycourts.gov/judges/evidence/index.shtml.
- Historical Society of the New York Courts: The LRB completed editorial work on the revised Oral History of Chief Judge Judith Kaye and the Oral Histories of retired Associate Judges of the Court of Appeals Joseph W. Bellacosa and Albert M. Rosenblatt; Charlotte Smallwood-Cook, the first woman elected District Attorney in New York State (Wyoming County); Norman Goodman, Clerk of the Supreme Court, New York County, and New York County Clerk and Commissioner of Jurors; and S. Hazard Gillespie, a well-known attorney and former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
- An LRB team including Kristen Quaresimo, Kayleigh Gekakis, Jennifer Davidick, Maureen Clements, Heath Hardman, Christopher Velez and former LRB staff member Milagros Figueroa participated in the 2017 CDPHP Workforce Team Challenge 3.5 mile race in downtown Albany.
- The LRB participated in the annual State Employees Federated Appeal fund-raising campaign to benefit charitable organizations focused on "helping others in need."
- The LRB continued its holiday tradition of "adopting" families through the Ronald McDonald House. Gifts donated and purchased through staff contributions were delivered to the Ronald McDonald "Family Room" in the neonatal intensive care unit at Albany Medical Center. Jackie Bunce and Lauren Grygiel coordinated the collection and delivery.
15. Visits and visitors. Among visits made in 2017:
- Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals Leslie E. Stein toured Centennial Hall and visited with members of the LRB's staff.
- Retired Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals Albert Rosenblatt and students from his NYU Law School Constitutional Law class visited Centennial Hall for a tour and discussion of LRB operations and official reporting.
- Cara Brousseau and Katie Breitenbach attended the portrait unveiling of retired Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman at Court of Appeals Hall.
- Bill Hooks and Katie Breitenbach attended Law Day Ceremonies at the Court of Appeals.
- Michael Convertino, the lead architect for the Centennial Hall renovation, toured the site with a group of colleagues and interns.
- Bill Hooks, Cara Brousseau and Katie Breitenbach attended the investitures of Associate Judges Rowan D. Wilson and Paul G. Feinman at Court of Appeals Hall.
- Representatives from West Publishing visited the LRB to discuss implementation of the 2016-2020 Official Reports Publishing Contract and the status of other joint projects.
16. Organization. Of significance in 2017:
- Founders Day, April 7, marked the 213th anniversary of the enactment of legislation creating the system of official law reporting in New York.
- A meeting of the LRB's management group was held to review the LRB's progress in completing its 2016 objectives and to set objectives for 2017.
- Weekly technology team meetings were held to formalize information sharing between and among LRB management and network and programming staff.
- In addition to monthly business meetings, LRB management held ad hoc meetings to assess and update task assignment schedules, to refine legal editor training models, to review and adjust correction protocols for online decisions, and to consider modernization of print table of cases formulation.