Judicial Notice 18 — Out Now!

Issue 18 of Judicial Notice is now arriving on our members’ doorsteps. This issue features articles about important New York legal figures and judges, fascinating cases, and a Cardozo speech that hasn’t been published since he originally gave it!

Soon we will be restarting our Chatting with the Authors podcast series with Communications Strategy Fellow Dr. Eric van der Vort as the host. We’ll discuss the authors’ interests in their topics and behind-the-scenes stories that didn’t make the cut in the article. Read on to learn more about the issue with the Hon. Helen E. Freedman’s Letter from the Editor in Chief. 

Judicial Notice 18 articles take us back to New York events occurring in the latter part of 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. Judge Richard A. Dollinger describes the intersection of the lives of two diametrically opposite characters in Western New York: John Hazel, the old line G.O.P. loyalist who, in 1900, became the first Judge from the newly created federal district court for Western New York, and Emma Goldman, the famous if not notorious Russian immigrant and anarchist. Judge Hazel presided over the trial and sentencing of Leon Czolgosz, President William McKinley’s assassin. Czolgosz claimed to have been influenced by the work of Emma Goldman, making her seem to be an unindicted co-conspirator, although the two never met and Goldman decried his act.

Professor Mary Noe recounts the amazing story of Harry Thaw, socialite and assassin of renowned architect Sanford White. Thaw, the scion of a wealthy New York family, was prosecuted twice for murdering White, but it seems the lawyers and judges involved in the prosecution ended up in as much trouble as did the defendant. In the second trial, his insanity defense prevailed, but Thaw was committed to Matteawan State Hospital until he was able to prove he was no longer insane.

Your editor has written an article about Samuel J. Tilden, a distinguished New York lawyer, governor, and statesman, who won the majority popular vote for president in 1876 and who could have rightfully claimed that the election was stolen; but who sought for the sake of the country not to challenge the result. Breaking up the notorious Tweed Ring and assuring the establishment of the New York Public Library are but two of things for which Tilden should be remembered.

Although Judicial Notice has already featured a number of articles about New York Chief Judge and United States Supreme Court Justice Benjamin N. Cardozo, it seems there will never be too many.

Former Judicial Notice Editor and State Bar President Henry M. (Hank) Greenberg provides what he aptly describes as an “inspiring tribute” in Washington, the Constitution Builder, that Chief Judge Cardozo delivered in 1932, one week after having been nominated by President Herbert Hoover to the United States Supreme Court. The speech was part of an Albany celebration of the 200th anniversary of George Washington’s birth. Given during the heart of the Great Depression, it resounds with meaning for us today. In a short accompanying article, Greenberg speaks about Cardozo’s significant extra-judicial writings that have contributed mightily to our understanding of American common law and jurisprudence and the development of the Rule of Law as a cornerstone of democracy.

In the “Angle of Repose,” Professor John Q. Barrett describes a letter written in 1948 between Jacob Billikopf, an immigrant who became a prominent social worker, and Edward Lazansky, a first generation American who became a successful New York lawyer, New York’s Secretary of State, and Presiding Justice of the Second Department. Both, as young Jewish men during the turn of the century, had become friends and admirers of Judge Cardozo. In the letter, written ten years after Cardozo’s death, Lazansky assures Billikopf that the scholarly and judicial Cardozo also possessed a dry wit. It was demonstrated when Cardozo tried to enlighten a colleague about a case involving a bulkhead in Jamaica Bay and Mill Basin in New York. Professor Barrett followed up with a scholarly description of the actual case, which may be of particular interest to maritime lawyers.

Remembering Hon. E. Leo Milonas

It is with sadness that the Historical Society has learned of the passing of one of our founding Trustees Hon. E. Leo Milonas on January 2, 2024.

Judge Milonas was a resolute jurist who administered New York’s courts for a quarter-century throughout his storied career. He started as a Criminal Court judge in 1972, became at State Supreme Court justice shortly thereafter, and was appointed to the Appellate Division, First Department in 1982. In 1993, Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye named him Chief Administrative Judge. In this role, Judge Milonas became instrumental to upgrading court facilities and computer systems as well as tightening the rules of conduct for attorneys. After serving as Chief Administrative Judge, he returned to the Appellate Division and retired in 1998, returning to private practice that year. Judge Milonas also served as president of the New York City Bar Association from 2002 to 2004 as well as chair of the New York Commission on Judicial Nomination.

The Historical Society has been named to receive donations in his honor, and the following people have made a contribution in Judge Milonas’s memory. 

  • Hon. Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick
  • Eventgeline Douris
  • Hon. Helen E. Freedman
  • Ruth Friendly
  • Susan Kohlman
  • David Lindley
  • Mary and Mitchell Mark
  • Paul Samuels
  • Takemi Ueno

Navigating Sovereignty: Unraveling the Treaty of Canandaigua and Its Impact on Haudenosaunee-U.S. Relations

The intricate relationship between tribal nations and the United States has a long history that predates the U.S. Constitution. Undergirded by a number of treaties that collectively recognize the sovereignty of tribal nations, the relationship is, at its best, one of nation-to-nation engagement. Yet the history of nation-to-nation engagement has been a troubled one, marked by unfulfilled commitments and deep disagreements about how treaties apply, to whom, and when. Today, we explore a selection of the treaties that have defined relations between tribal nations and the State of New York.

We look specifically at the history of relations with the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and particularly the Treaty of Canandaigua, a pivotal document that shapes our understanding of sovereignty, land rights, and cultural preservation. This blog post aims to provide a small window perspective on Haudenosaunee-U.S. relations, with no claims to being exhaustive.

Prior Treaties

The Treaty of Cananadaigua was one of a series of treaties between the United States and the Haudenosaunee. Before Cananadaigua was signed in 1794, two other treaties were established. The first was the Treaty of Fort Stanwix (1784). This was a foundational agreement between President George Washington’s delegation and the Haudenosaunee. Seeking peace, the treaty outlined separate sovereignties for both parties. Federal boundary lines were established to prevent further settlements and conflicts. A second treaty, the Treaty of Fort Harmer (1789), reaffirmed the sovereignties of both the Haudenosaunee and the United States. Emphasizing federal boundary lines and principles of peace and friendship, this treaty played a significant role in shaping the evolving dynamics between the parties.

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How the Great Law of Peace Helped Shape New York and American Democracy

Long before Europeans came to North America, a thriving democratic system was established in the heart of what would become New York State. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy, known to the French colonists as the Iroquois League and the English colonists as the League of Five Nations (later, Six Nations), was already well-established, united in a confederation of nations governed by their Great Law of Peace. As we enter Native American Heritage Month, the Historical Society of the New York Courts would like to honor the Haudenosaunee’s deep contributions to the development of our own democracy, here in New York State and the United States overall with just a peek into the story of how the Haudenosaunee’s governance principles played a pivotal role in shaping New York’s government and laying the foundation for American democracy.

 The Haudenosaunee Confederacy

 The Haudenosaunee, composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca nations, with the later inclusion of the Tuscarora, were the original inhabitants of the land that is now New York State, as well as parts of contemporary Canada. They established a system of governance known as the Great Law of Peace, which dates to the 12th or 13th century. This system embodied principles that resonated with the very core of democracy. The Great Law of Peace is said to have been brought to the nations by the Great Peacemaker, who helped the previously conflicting nations to come together in a confederacy on the shores of Onondaga Lake near today’s Syracuse.

A Council of Nations

At the heart of the Haudenosaunee system was the “Great Council,” a council composed of representatives from each member nation. While it might not have been a direct antecedent of today’s Congress, it shared the fundamental principle of representative democracy. These representatives, or sachems, deliberated and made decisions by striving for consensus, a concept that is a cornerstone of American democracy. Consensus decision-making, the process where all parties involved must agree on major decisions, was central to the Haudenosaunee’s governance. They understood that fostering unity and ensuring that every voice was heard was essential. This emphasis on consensus echoes in the American political system where the framers of the U.S. Constitution aimed to reach agreements and compromise among diverse interests.

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New Podcast Series: Wrecking Ball with Adrian Untermyer

The Historical Society of the New York Courts has long been involved in exploring the intersection of the law and art and architecture, particularly in courthouses and the messages the art in courthouses say about the judicial process. However, there is still so much to dive into in preservation and the law.

Enter Wrecking Ball: Tales of Preservation, the Law, and the Places New Yorkers Love.

This is something podcast host Adrian Untermyer is truly passionate about. He is an attorney, urbanist, and historian working at the crossroads of historic preservation, the law, and the American city who comes from a long line of preservationists. One of his earliest projects with the Society was serving as editor-in-chief and co-author of the legal history of New York County. He previously served as deputy director of the Historic Districts Council, and currently works in-house as an attorney in the transportation sector.

On August 16, 2023, Village Preservation hosted Wrecking Ball: How Government Has Shaped New York’s Defining Preservation Battles, an event to launch the series. It featured a presentation by Adrian along with a conversation with Andrew Berman at the historic Jefferson Market Library (a former courthouse). The program covered some important moments of historic preservation, major figures in ensuring access to these important sites, and the future of the field.


Subscribe to Wrecking Ball on your favorite podcast carrier!

                        

Share your thoughts with us! Join the conversation on social media; use the hashtag #WreckingBallPod!

Rediscovering History: The Lemmon Slave Case and the Traveling Exhibit

In the midst of the struggle for abolition, New Yorkers had the chance to witness an important turning point in the fight for freedom. This is the tale of the Lemmon Slave Case, a legal battle that unfolded in the 1850s, challenging the very foundations of slavery and leaving a lasting imprint on our nation’s story.

Why the Lemmon Case Matters

The Lemmon Slave Case isn’t just a story from the past; it’s a testament to the power of local laws in the fight against slavery. Imagine this: a Virginian slaveholder, Jonathan Lemmon, brought enslaved individuals into New York, only to have our state’s courts acknowledge the simple truth that these individuals should be free. This decision showed states and citizens that they could stand up against slavery, in defiance of an unjust system.

“The law of nature says that there can be no property in a slave.”
— Judge Elijah Paine, 1852

But it wasn’t just a legal victory. It lit a spark in the hearts of abolitionists. This case’s defiance of pro-slavery laws foreshadowed the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation that eventually ended slavery in the United States.

Bringing History to Life: The Traveling Exhibit

To honor the Lemmon Slave Case and its legacy, we embarked on an incredible journey with a traveling exhibit. This exhibit, thoughtfully presented with informative panels and a compelling video narrated by the James Earl Jones, unfolded its narrative in courthouses far and wide. From the Monroe County Hall of Justice to the Oneida County Courthouse and down to the Bronx County Courthouse, we ventured to every corner of the state, inviting everyone to delve into this essential history.

Our goal was simple yet profound: to share the story of the Lemmon Case and its historical context with communities statewide. In doing so, we hoped to inspire reflection, spark conversations, and foster a deeper understanding of the Lemmon Case’s legacy. This journey wasn’t just about history; it was about engaging with our shared past, exploring themes of justice, equality, and the ongoing pursuit of civil rights. Through the power of storytelling and firsthand experiences, we hope to unite communities in a celebration of an enduring quest for justice and equality.

Celebrating the Legacy: The Event

And now, we’re thrilled to invite you to a special event that celebrates the legacy of the Lemmon Slave Case and the journey of our traveling exhibit. Join us on September 7th at the New York County Courthouse Rotunda, located at 60 Centre Street, NYC, or tune in via livestream. The event begins at 6:00 PM, with a reception starting at 5:30 PM.

Learn more about our distinguished speakers — including Chief Judge Rowan D. Wilson — and register now. Together, we’ll explore the Lemmon Case’s impact, its role in the abolitionist movement, and the enduring lessons it offers.

In summary, the Lemmon Slave Case’s significance lies in its legal precedent and its impact on the abolitionist movement. As we delve into the past and uncover the lessons it holds, we are reminded that the Lemmon Slave Case isn’t just a distant historical event; it’s a testament to our enduring human spirit’s quest for justice and equality.

Executive Director Marilyn Marcus Featured on Amici Podcast

On March 23, 2023, in celebration of Women’s History Month, Society Executive Director Marilyn Marcus was featured on the court system’s Amici Podcast to discuss Judith S. Kaye, the first woman Associate and Chief Judge on the New York Court of Appeals and the Society’s founder. Podcast host John Caher and Ms. Marcus discuss Judge Kaye’s life and career, the role of the Society in celebrating women in the courts and legal profession, and how Ms. Marcus came to be the Society’s Executive Director. Listen Now!

Read the transcript!

Celebrating the Art & Architecture of the Courts

December is Art & Architecture Month, and, as a part of its mission, the Society has developed programs that celebrate art and architecture in the State’s courthouses and how art has been used to depict justice. As December rounds out the Society’s 20th anniversary year, these past programs continue to inspire and enlighten.

Understanding the Work of the NY Federal State & Tribal Courts & Indian Nations Justice Forum with Justice Mark A. Montour

Recently appointed Appellate Division Justice Mark Montour discusses his pioneering role as the first Native American jurist in NYS as well as the work a collaborative group of federal, state, and tribal nation courts and representatives in ensuring Native Americans have equal access to justice.

This is a segment from a Dispensing Justice from a Distance Series Interview from March 24, 2021. Watch the full interview here: https://history.nycourts.gov/about_period/dispensing-justice-montour/

Watch Now!

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