Focus Groups Yield RecommendationsFor Improving NYS Commercial Division

Sunday, October 1, 2006 - 01:00

The recommendations and findings of statewide focus groups created to examine the operations of the Commercial Division of the New York State Supreme Court were presented recently to Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye in a comprehensive report compiled by the Office of Court Administration.

The focus groups, composed of retired judges, prominent commercial litigators and in-house counsel of major corporations, convened in five locations throughout New York between December 2005 and February 2006. The groups were charged with identifying areas of the Commercial Division and commercial practice in New York needing improvement, as well as generating a list of Commercial Division innovations that could be used to advantage in other courts. The discussions were moderated by Robert L. Haig of the law firm Kelley Drye & Warren.

'The focus groups have come back with cheering news,' Chief Judge Kaye said. 'The Commercial Division is functioning successfully and is a source of innovations for other New York courts. The information gleaned from these focus groups will help to effectuate improvements in the court system and contribute toward a stronger commercial practice in New York. I am sincerely grateful to all members of the focus groups for their contributions and in particular to Bob Haig for his leadership role in this project.'

The focus groups identified features of the Commercial Division that could be used in other courts, including: increased use of e-filing; proactive involvement of judges in settlement and alternative dispute resolution; supporting the use of more technology at trial; page limits on motion papers; mandatory pre-motion conferences prior to the filing of discovery motions; uniform rules; proactive, hands-on, but adaptable case management; mandatory notice of applications for temporary restraining orders except in extraordinary circumstances, and addressing electronic discovery issues.

'We are grateful for all of the time and thought which so many highly experienced lawyers and judges have devoted to this project,' Mr. Haig said. 'We look forward to hearing the bar's reactions to these proposals.'

The report of thefocus groups can be accessed from the court system's website at www.nycourts.gov/reports.