HSoftheNYCourts Oral History Project, begun in 2005, consists of recorded interviews and transcriptions from judges and lawyers who tell their stories in intimate conversations with former clerks or colleagues. Participants reflect on childhood, events that shaped them, and their careers on the bench, in public service, and in the practice of law. Judges are invited to participate after they have retired from the bench. Brief biographies of the currently sitting Court of Appeals Judges, including NYS Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, are available here.
These interviews are not intended to present a complete, verified description of events. They are personal recollections and perceptions. They are unique and irreplaceable, with a special cadence that comes from hearing a unique voice tell each story.
The Society prepares a transcript of each interview. Transcripts are then edited by:
- Interviewees and their interviewers,
- NYS Court of Appeals (in the case of Court of Appeals judges), and
- NYS Law Reporting Bureau.
The Law Reporting Bureau conforms transcripts to consistent protocols, providing citations of cases, statutes, and biographical information for public figures. 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.
The final version of a transcript is then added to the HSoftheNYCourts archive and made available to the public. 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.
All uses of both transcripts and videos are authorized by signed agreements between interviewees, interviewers, and HSoftheNYCourts. All copyrights and literary rights in the transcripts, including the right to publish, are reserved by the HSoftheNYCourts. No part of any transcript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of HSoftheNYCourts.
Requests for permission should be emailed to HSoftheNYCourts here. The request should identify:
- The user,
- The intended use of the materials, and
- The passages to be quoted.
These oral histories are personal recollections and perceptions of the interviewees. These histories are not intended to present a complete, verified description of events, nor are they positions or opinions of the Historical Society of the New York Courts.
During the transcription and editing process, interviewees were able to correct instances where they misspoke and to clarify comments they made. As such, the language in an oral history video may differ from the language in the corresponding transcript. Public uses of both transcripts and videos are authorized by signed agreements between interviewees, interviewers, and HSoftheNYCourts.
HSoftheNYCourts asks all writers who use these materials to quote from and cite the corrected transcript.
Chief Judges of New York State
Court of Appeals Associate Judges
Other New York State Judges
Expanding Upon Our 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.
A Mini-Oral History of Hon. Paul G. Feinman, 1960-2021
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
“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”
“Letter to Thomas Washington”
“Remarks on Retirement of Judge Jasen”