Oral Histories

The Society began its Oral History Project in 2005 to document the reminiscences of retired judges and lawyers who are prominent members of the New York Bench and Bar, including the State’s high court, the Court of Appeals. The Interviewers are selected by the Subject and include former law clerks and other members of the legal community familiar with the Subject’s career in the law and with NY jurisprudence.

The Subjects speak about their backgrounds, their childhoods, and events that shaped them as they also reflect on their contributions to New York’s law and legal process. This produces a broad look at the unique histories of those working with the Rule of Law in the State and the nation.

Oral histories are not intended to present a complete, verified description of events. They represent the spoken personal account of a Subject. They illustrate the Subject’s thoughts, perceptions, and reflections. They are unique and irreplaceable.

Editing Process & Permission Requests

The Society prepares a transcript of each interview. The transcripts of the interviews are reviewed by the Subjects and the Interviewers for clarity and accuracy and corrected accordingly. The New York State Law Reporting Bureau then edits the transcripts to conform to consistent protocols. Citations of cases and statutes have been added. Full names of individuals referred to have been provided. Formal names of courts referred to are also provided. In the case of Court of Appeals judges, the transcripts are reviewed by the New York State Court of Appeals. The final versions of the transcripts are then deposited into the Society’s archives and are made available on the website.All uses of transcripts are covered by signed agreements between Subjects, Interviewers, and the Society. The information is thereby made available for purposes deemed suitable by the Society, such as research and education. All copyrights and literary rights in the transcripts, including the right to publish, are reserved by the Society. No part of any transcript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Society.

 

Requests for permission should be emailed to the Society here. The request should identify (i) the user, (ii) the intended use of the materials, and (iii) the passages to be quoted.

Certain interviews were conducted outside the Society’s Oral History Project and are noted. Such interviews were transferred to the Society by agreement and have become part of the Society’s archives. No part of any such transcript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Society.

Please Note: Some oral histories are noted as subject to future annotation and technical revision. In these transcripts, footnotes supplying citations of cases and statutes and biographical information for public and historical figures mentioned in the transcript may be added. In addition, formatting and similar irregularities may be corrected and page numbering may be adjusted accordingly.

To date, the Society has conducted interviews of the following individuals. Transcripts are added as completed:

 

Chief Judges of New York State

 

Court of Appeals Associate Judges 

 

Other New York State Judges

 

Legal Luminaries

 

Videos Produced Outside the Oral History Project

The Society has produced the following videos which relate to the themes addressed in the Society’s Oral History Project, reflecting contributions to New York’s jurisprudence.

Honoring Lady Justice : NYS Court of Appeals Women Jurists (2013)

At the Helm : A 30 Year Legacy of Leadership (2015)

Passing the Gavel : Continuity, Collaboration and Transition (2016)

Get to Know : The Four Presiding Justices of the Appellate Divisions (2017)

 

Collection of Bench & Bar Reminiscences

Hon. Benjamin N. Cardozo
“The Bench and Bar” 

Hon. Frederick E. Crane
“Detail Work of the New York Court of Appeals

Hon. Richard C. Wesley
“New York’s Court of Appeals: A Personal Perspective

Israel T. Deyo
“Reminiscences After Sixty-Four Years at the Bar”

James Kent
“Letter to Thomas Washington”

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