"Without a doubt, the best location in the New York Public Library to conduct legal research about legal issues that arise in either the state or the city of New York is the Science Industry and Business Library. SIBL has a selective law library that contains ... essential New York legal research tools..."
Court libraries open to the public in NYC (it is recommended to call ahead to make an appointment to visit these libraries):
New York County (= Manhattan)
NY County Public Access Law Library, 80 Centre Street, Second floor, Room 242, New York, NY 10013, Phone: 646-386-3715 .
Municipal archives--courts records 1684-1966. There is a record, at least in summary form, of every felony prosecution in Manhattan from 1684 to 1966. For the period after 1790, there are indictment papers and case files for every felony arrest. Every misdemeanor and violation is recorded in docket books that date back to 1800.The major series are New York County Court of General Sessions, Minutes of the Sessions, 1684-1920; indictment files, 1790-1938 (also identified as District Attorney indictment papers); Police Court/Magistrate's Court docket books, 1799-1930; papers filed in dismissed cases, 1807-1856; Court of Special Sessions, calendar of prisoners, 1829-1839. Kings County Criminal Court indictment records 1894-1965 (with gaps); Kings County Special Sessions (Bastardy proceedings) 1926-1936; Richmond County Special Sessions (Bastardy proceedings) 1899-1939. Civil court records include Kings County "Papers in Suits" (papers related to civil actions) 1847-1873. New York County Surrogate's Court, estate inventories 1780s-1830s and insolvent assignments (bankruptcy), 1800-1830. Also available are the District Attorney's records from 1895 to 1971.
John Jay has an extensive collection of criminal trial transcripts, mainly for the Court of General Sessions in NY County (Manhattan).
Congress established its Law Library in 1832, recognizing its need for ready access to reliable legal materials. The Law Library has grown over the years to become the world’s largest law library, with a collection of over 2.65 million volumes spanning the ages and covering virtually every jurisdiction in the world.
Click on the logo above to find out about the Library's collections, resources and access policies.
State Law provides that each county have a court law library with access to the general public. The majority of these libraries have case law, statutes and secondary source materials with regard to New York State law. Several have additional information.
The New York State Archives holds background files on state laws starting in the 1920s; records of higher state trial courts before 1847 and of the State's court of last resort, the Court of Appeals, since 1847; and voluminous, though incomplete, records of state correctional facilities back to the nineteenth century.