Over the past 20 years, we have told amazing stories of New York legal history — from the judges to the lawyers, and the everyday people who have been impacted by the court system. These are 20 of our most powerful, as selected by our Trustees, partners, and staff when asked about what stories have resonated with them.
In our final celebration this year, we will be adding more stories throughout the month of December!
Dr. Michael Eula, Author, History of Genesee County Bench and Bar; County Historian, Genesee County
"Legal activity in Western New York has long centered in the courthouse in Batavia."
Elizabeth A. Klassner, Author, History of Chenango County Bench and Bar; Associate Counsel, New York State United Teachers
"Attorney Cowles was the first woman in her judicial district to be admitted to practice in 1892, nearly 30 years before the 19th Amendment was ratified."
John J. Halloran, Jr., Trustee Emeritus; Attorney
"Judge Jasen was in the unique position of dispensing two kinds of justice — German and American.”
Paul T. O'Neill, Co-Author, History of Ulster County Bench and Bar; Commissioner of Jurors, Ulster County
"The New York State Constitutional Convention of 1777 is the perfect confluence of circumstances that resonates beyond its age."
Jill Shukin, Society Administrative Director
"A vitally important action, the Flushing Remonstrance is thought to be the precursor to the provision of freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights."
John Werner, Society Program Partner; former Chief Clerk and Executive Officer of the Supreme Court, Civil Term, New York County
"While individuals have had such critically important roles throughout the almost 100-year history of this important courthouse, the story to be told here is not much about individuals, but much more about the building itself."
Antonio Galvao, Society Program Partner; Retired Special Counsel to the Chief Judge, New York State Unified Court System
"Judge Lippman played a historic role in positioning the Judiciary to take a lead role in addressing the challenge of equal access to justice."
Ely S. Parker, Denied Admission to the NY Bar as a Seneca Man Only to Play a Vital Role in the Securing Tonawanda Seneca Rights
Frances Murray, Founding Trustee; Trustee Emeritus; Former Chief Reference Attorney, New York Court of Appeals
"He began the 20-year battle to preserve the homelands at Tonawanda for the Seneca by initiating lawsuits in which both the New York Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the rights of the Seneca."
Hon. Judith S. Kaye, First Woman Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals and Chief Judge of the State of New York
Hon. Robert M. Mandelbaum, Judge Kaye's oral history interviewer & former clerk; Acting Justice, New York State Supreme Court, New York County
"The first woman Judge of the New York Court of Appeals and the first woman Chief Judge of the State of New York, Judge Kaye was considered by President Bill Clinton for United States Attorney General and for a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States but declined both, unwilling to leave her beloved Court of Appeals."
Robert Pigott, Judicial Notice Author and Society Program Partner; Vice President and General Counsel, Phipps Houses; New York Legal Landmarks Author
"The breadth and depth of Evarts' career in the public and private sectors are unimaginable for a modern-day lawyer."
Hon. Edward R. Dudley, Norman Goodman, & John F. Werner, “Saving” 60 Centre from the “Save-a-Watt” Campaign
Adrian I. Untermyer, Society Partner in Public Programs, Podcasts, & County Legal History Project; Attorney; Preservationist
"Stopping the plot to swap the original Tiffany chandeliers for garish fluorescent lights in the historic 60 Centre Street courthouse."
David L. Goodwin, Trustee; Supervisory Staff Attorney, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
"A uniquely compelling figure who gave her unsparing and frank assessment both of those institutions that failed her and the need for further progress."
Thomas J. Ruller, Ex-Officio Trustee; NYS Archivist
"The Erie Canal changed many aspects of New York law and how it was interpreted and administered by the courts with impacts that resonate today -- documents help tell this story."
Hon. Dianne T. Renwick, Trustee; Vice Chair of Special Projects; Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department
"Overlooked by white male counterparts, ADA Eunice Carter's important work in the Women's Court led to the most successful court action against organized crime in American history."
August Claessens, Samuel A. DeWitt, Samuel Orr, Charles Solomon and Louis Waldman; Socialists Elected to (and Expelled by) the NYS Assembly in 1920
Hon. Helen E. Freedman, Trustee; Editor-in-Chief of Judicial Notice; Retired Associate Justice, Appellate Division, First Department
"The New York Assembly took it upon itself to expel the newly elected Assemblymen, not for any misdeeds but merely for being Socialists."
Allison Morey, Society Programs Director
"Building a culturally competent judicial system, combining Native American traditions and the court system."