New York State Library
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Records and Briefs

Records and briefs, also referred to as cases and points, are papers submitted to a court upon appeal of a lower court judgment. They usually contain:

  • Record or appendix
  • Plaintiff's briefs
  • Defendant's briefs

Reply brief(s) and Amicus brief(s) may also be included.

Together, these papers document the legal history of a case, often including lower court transcripts, necessary formal applications, arguments for and against legal issues, testimony, and exhibits. They vary in length, sometimes filling as many as 10 volumes. They represent an invaluable resource for attorneys researching a similar legal case, for researchers reconstructing the social fabric of a period, for historians and for genealogists.

State Library's Holdings

The New York State Library has records and briefs for the following courts:

  • NYS Court of Appeals, 1847-2012 (available online as of January 2013 at Court-PASS)
  • NYS Supreme Court. Appellate Division, 1896+
  • NYS Supreme Court. General Term (predecessor to the Appellate Division) Selected cases 1879-1895
  • U.S. Supreme Court, 1832+
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 1982 – 2009/10

Obtaining Records and Briefs

Call the Reference Desk at 518-474-5355 or email to verify that the Library holds the record and briefs for a case.  When possible, provide the following information:

  • Names of parties in the case
  • Official citation
  • Date of decision
  • Department # (if recent NYS Appellate Division case)
  • Docket # and court term (if US Supreme Court case)
A staff member will inform you of the format of the record and brief (hard copy, microfilm or microfiche), its location, and the procedure for viewing it.

Additional Information

  • Records and briefs for cases dealing with some attorney, matrimonial, election, filiation, prisoner, unemployment insurance and family court matters are not supplied by the courts.
  • Usage and copying of early records and briefs for the NYS Court of Appeals (1847-1956, 1st series), the NYS Supreme Court, Appellate Division (1896-1955, 1st series) and NYS Supreme Court General Term may be restricted due to condition.
  • There is often a considerable time lag between when a case is decided and when the State Library receives the record and briefs for the case.
  • The New York State Archives has holdings of some New York records and briefs.  Contact them at 518-474-8955 or email
Last Updated: July 12, 2021