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Lloyd Sealy Library
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

New York City Criminal Courts: Historical Research: New York State Courts in NYC

Links and information on historical research on documents produced by NYC, NY State and Federal court proceedings in NYC.

Archival Collections of Court Records and Court Annual Reports

John Jay has a small collection of Criminal Court Transcripts 1887 -1927, mainly comprised of the Court of General Sessions (New York County) proceedings, these are available by interlibrary loan, by appointment with the Special Collections and a few are available digitally. This page lists resources useful especially if the court records you seek are not in our Trial Transcript Collection.

See also: A student & researchers' guide to our Criminal Transcript Collection

Stenographer's Index - New York County Court of General Sessions to 1929 - indexes by defendant last name and assigns numbers to more trials than appear in our collection. Useful for matching to District Attorney trial records.

The Municipal Archives of New York City holds: Records of the Court of Special Sessions 1883-1931Supreme Court case records, Brooklyn, 1910-1950.  Criminal Court case records, Manhattan, 1924-1950.   Supreme Court case records, Manhattan, 1945-1950. Police Court. Calendar of prisoners, 1829-1839.   Police Court. Magistrates appeals, 1895-1922Police Court. Cases, 1808-1912. and District Attorney Records

The NY State Archives in Albany holds: NY County Clerk Judgments, transcripts, and decrees, 1840-1910.  see also their Guide to Criminal Records Relating to Criminal Trials, Appeals, and Pardons [Information Leaflet #9]

On the reorganization of NY State Courts see: Report and draft of proposed legislation to implement the judicial administration provisions of the new Judiciary article of the Constitution, article VI, adopted by the people on November 7, 1961. Stacks - KFN 5010.62 .C68 1962

Some criminal courts in New York issued Annual Reports.

These and other annual reports from Criminal Courts in NYC may well be available at the libraries recommended below

Online information & Databases

The NY State Unified Court System webpage has information on courts, judges and provides information on court cases in various New York State jurisdictions, including a searchable database of recent court decisions it also  provides this page with information on accessing court records. See also the NY State Law Reporting Bureau New York Official Reports. and the NY State Legal Research Portal.

Case Reporters do not contain trial transcripts but rather the decisions and opinions rendered by judges in a case.  In a jury trial, the jury decides the outcome and therefore you may not find a particular case in a case reporter unless it is appealed in which case a judge or panel of judges would determine the outcome. The NY State 3rd (1980 - present) is available freely online  and contains decisions of the Court of Appeals and the Appellate Division, as well as selected opinions of the lower courts.

All are also available LEXIS-NEXIS Academic (CUNY use only). It is easiest to find a case if you know its exact citation.

Learn more about researching cases and other legal resources in our Legal Research guide.

New York State Court Libraries in NYC

Some Kings County [Brooklyn] trial transcripts are held by the Kings County Supreme Court Library.

Some New York County trial transcripts are held by the NY County Supreme Court Library.

Some Bronx County trial transcripts may be held by the Bronx County Supreme Court Library (Bronx county was separated from NY County in 1914)

Some Queens County trial transcripts may be held by the Queens County Supreme Court Library.

Other NY State Court Libraries may also have trial transcript holdings.

It is advisable to call ahead and make an appointment with the above libraries before visiting.

see also: Guide to New York Court Records on Family Search.

State Court Records at the NYC Municipal Archives and NY State Library & Archives

For additional records of the Court of General Sessions, New York County (including indictments 1879-1892 which can be browsed online) and other New York City Courts, please contact the Municipal Archives of New York, which also holds the indictment records for many trials in the John Jay Collection, accessible by stenographer number. A list of their holdings is here and here.

MuckRock is compiling a list of the Microform Records at the Municipal Archives via FOIL - there are some lists of District Attorney and Court of General Sessions records on this page.

There are many more state court resources at the New York State Archives.