Research Problem: How do you begin to find quality, relevant information on New York State courts?
The New York State Unified Court System is an intricate network of courts. The Court system's website does a great job of illustrating the relationships between the courts – from the lowest courts, all the way up to the New York State Court of Appeals. Many different types of courts are described here – Supreme Courts and County Courts where felonies are heard, New York City Criminal Courts, Family Couts, Appellate Divisions, various problem-solving courts, etc. Researching such a complex system, or even part of it, can seem like a daunting task. Here are some tips to get you started.
For example, suppose you are interested in one of the problem solving jurisdictions such as the, Domestic Violence (IDV) Courts:
These courts are dedicated to cases that involve criminal, family, and matrimonial disputes where the primary issue is domestic violence. The IDV Courts are unique in that they adhere to the “one family – one judge��? model. This particular model attaches a single judge to a single family dealing with domestic violence. By connecting one judge with a single family, the goal of the IDV Courts is to provide more informed judicial decision-making and greater consistency in court orders, while at the same time reducing the number of court appearances for families. This system also enables the IDV Courts to provide enhanced services to victims and helps to ensure offender accountability.
Another example of problem-solving courts in the NYS Unified Court Systems are the Drug Treatment Courts:
These courts are proactive in their involvement with individuals that find themselves in the Drug Treatment Court System, specifically with the cooperation of an entire team including the prosecution, defense, education, treatment, and law enforcement. Suitable non-violent addicted offenders are given the option of entering voluntarily into court-supervised treatment in return for the promise of a reduced sentence. The defendant, defense attorney, district attorney, and the court all enter into a contract that specifically details the rules and conditions of the defendant’s participation into the program.
How do you find articles and books?
Beyond the basic information provided on the courts website, you will want to seek out relevant articles and books. As with other subject areas, database searching is key to finding quality research and policy resources (particularly articles) on the New York State Court System. When looking for information on the New York State Court System, be sure to search in the following databases:
- Academic Search Complete
- Westlaw Campus
- PAIS International / PAIS Archive
- Index to Legal Periodicals and Books
- LexisNexis Academic
To access these databases, go to Databases and Indexes on the library home page and click on the first letter of the name of the database.
In addition to the database resources, there are books located at Dewey Library that can provide information on the New York State Court of Appeals. (From the Libraries webpage (), select Minerva. The following are just a small sample of what is available:
Donnino, William C. New York Court of Appeals on criminal law. New York: West Group. 1997. Dewey Library / Law KFN 6100 D66 1997
Karger, Arthur. Powers of the New York Court of Appeals. Rochester, N.Y: Lawyers Cooperative Publication, 1997. Dewey Library / KFN 5960 C63 1997
Meyer, Bernard S., Burton C. Agata and Seth H. Agata. History of the New York Court of Appeals, 1932-2003. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. Dewey Library / KFN 5960 B47 2006
Or on a particular topic, such as sentencing:
Brennan, Pauline K. Women sentenced to jail in New York City. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing, 2002. Dewey Library/ KFN 6172 B74 2002.
For detailed information on how to select and use databases to find articles, books, and reports, consult our Criminal Justice Research Tutorial. And feel free to contact Criminal Justice Bibliographer Mary Jane Brustman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 442-3540.
Blog post created by Matthew Laudicina