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Home Guide for Counsel


I. Introduction

This guide is designed to assist attorneys appearing for oral argument at the Court of Appeals. Attorneys should consult the Court of Appeals Rules of Practice and may contact the Clerk's office for further information. The Clerk's office is open Monday through Friday, except State holidays, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Pertinent Clerk's office telephone numbers are listed here.

Court of Appeals Hall is located at 20 Eagle Street in Albany, between Albany County Court and City Hall. The main entrance is located on Eagle Street. The entrance for individuals with disabilities is located on Pine Street. Air, rail, and bus services to Albany are available. Directions to Court of Appeals hall are available here. A map showing nearby parking lots is available here.

II. Argument

The Court hears oral arguments during sessions held throughout the year at Court of Appeals Hall. Prior to the date of argument, counsel must notify the Clerk's office of any changes in arguing counsel or of any needs of arguing counsel or co-counsel (e.g., accommodations for wheelchairs, requests for assisted listening devices, etc.). Should any circumstance arise that might affect counsel's ability to argue as scheduled, the Clerk's office should be notified immediately.

On the scheduled argument date, counsel must check in with the Court's security personnel at least 15 minutes before argument is scheduled to begin on the first case of the day. The first case is called promptly as scheduled. Counsel traveling from out of town should allow ample time for delays, especially in winter.

Arguing counsel and co-counsel should report to security personnel with picture identification. All persons entering Court of Appeals Hall (including arguing counsel) will be screened by security personnel, who will voucher all cameras, recording devices, legally-possessed weapons, and other prohibited items. Those items will be returned to their owners when they leave the building. All cell phones must be silenced or turned off before entering the Courtroom.

Topcoats, raincoats, umbrellas and hats are not permitted in the Courtroom. A cloak room is located behind the Attorneys' Library, next to the elevator. In addition to the Attorneys' Library, which contains a complete set of the official New York Reports, counsel have access to the Attorneys' Lounge. Wireless internet access is available in the Attorneys' Lounge and Library.

All arguing counsel and co-counsel must be seated at the appropriate table before the Court convenes. Facing the bench, appellants are seated on the left-hand side of the courtroom and respondents are seated on the right. Counsel in the first case to be argued should be seated at the table closest to the bench. Other counsel should be seated by case order in the remaining counsel tables. Up to four counsel may be seated at each table. Seating in front of the railing is reserved for arguing counsel and co-counsel. All other spectators must be seated behind the railing. The Court's security unit will be available to answer any questions as to seating.

Unless otherwise permitted by the Court upon advance written application, only one counsel is permitted to argue for a party. If appellant wishes to reserve time for rebuttal, a verbal request to reserve a specific number of minutes should be made to the Chief Judge prior to beginning appellant's argument. The time reserved will be subtracted from the total time assigned to that party. When counsel has one minute of argument time remaining, a white light on the podium is illuminated. When argument time has expired, a red light is illuminated. Adherence to allotted argument times is required, except that counsel may continue responding to questions from the Court after the argument time has expired.

Arguing counsel should be prepared for a "hot bench." The Court will be fully conversant with the issues in each case and will use oral argument to address any questions or concerns prompted by the briefs. Counsel should be ready for a question-and-answer exchange and should not expect to recount the facts in detail or present a prepared script of arguments. During oral argument, counsel should take care not to disclose confidential or sensitive information (see Notice on Confidential and Sensitive Documents).

Arguments are webcast live and archived here. During oral argument, counsel should take care not to disclose confidential or sensitive information. A transcript of the argument will be posted in the website archive about a week after argument. DVD copies of webcast arguments are available for purchase from the Government Law Center at Albany Law School (telephone: 518-445-2329).

III. Public Seating

Seating is available in the public section of the courtroom on a first-come, first-seated basis. The public section accommodates approximately 60 people. Oral arguments also can be viewed over closed circuit television in the Attorneys' Lounge and Library.

IV. The Court’s Decision In Your Case

The Court normally decides cases within thirty to sixty days after the oral argument date. Counsel of record are notified by phone of the decision in their case and provided copies of the Court's decision by regular mail. Decisions usually are mailed on the day they are released. In addition, the Court's decisions are available here, free of charge, the day on which they are issued.

If you wish the Court to send you, via overnight delivery service at your expense, a paper copy of the decision in your case on the day it is released, you must provide a pre-addressed airbill containing your account number, telephone number, and the name (and number, if known) of your case, as well as an envelope acceptable to the carrier, no later than the day you appear for oral argument. Airbills and envelopes may be mailed to the Court's Public Information Office or left with security personnel at the front desk. Decisions will not be faxed or e-mailed.