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purpose it created the Board of Audit, consisting of the Comptroller, Secretary of State and State Treasurer, who were authorized to hear all private claims and accounts against the State, except such as were then heard by the canal appraisers. (Laws of 1876, chapter 442; Quayle v. State, 192 N. Y. 47.)
This board, consisting of State officers, continued to audit claims and accounts against the State to be paid out of appropriations made by the Legislature until 1883 when both the canal appraisers and the State Board of Audit were abolished and the Board of Claims was created in their stead with jurisdiction to hear, audit and determine all private claims against the State, except such as were required by law to be audited by other State officers. (Laws of 1883, chapter 205.)
This Board continued until 1897, when there was created in its place a Court of Claims with a simple procedure and with some what enlarged jurisdiction. (Laws of 1897, chapter 36.)
In 1911 the Court of Claims as a court” was abolished and the Board of Claims was revived with substantially the same powers and jurisdiction as the Court of Claims. (Laws of 1911, chapter 856; Peo. ex rel. Swift v. Luce, 204 N. Y. 478.)
The Board of Claims in its turn was abolished in 1915 and the Court of Claims revived. (Laws of 1915, chapters 1 and 100.)
In re-establishing the Court of Claims in 1915, the Legislature made three important changes in the pre-existing system.
1. Only one of the three commissioners constituting the Board of Claims was required to be "an attorney and counselor-at-law of at least ten years' experience in practice," whereas every judge of the Court of Claims must be “ an attorney and counselor-at-law admitted to practice in the courts of this State, of at least ten years' experience in practice.”
2. While the court is made up regularly of three judges, provision was made for additional judges as follows:
“ The number of judges to constitute the Court of Claims may be increased to not more than five as provided by this section. If the Attorney-General shall at any time certify to the Governor in writing that the accumulation of business in the Court of Claims requires for the disposal thereof an additional judge or judges, specifying the number, not more
than two, the Governor may appoint, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, such additional judge or judges, each of whom shall be an attorney and counselor-at-law, admitted to practice in the courts of this State of at least ten years' experience in practice. The terms of any such additional judge shall expire January first, nineteen hundred and
eighteen.” (Code of Civil Procedure, § 282.) 3. The most important change effected by the new legislation was, however, the result of the following addition to section 268 of the Code of Civil Procedure:
"A session of the Court may be conducted and testimony and proof taken and arguments heard thereat, by one or more judges to be designated by the presiding judge; but no determination or judgment of the Court shall be rendered except upon the concurrence of at least two of the judges of the
Court. Not more than three judges shall sit in any case.” In other words, prior to 1915, there was no statutory authority permitting the Board or Court of Claims to sit in parts. Under the above provision, however, one, two or three judges may hold a session of the Court. Further reference to this provision will be made later on in this report.
The new Court of Claims was brought into existence by the appointment by Governor Charles S. Whitman on February 10, 1915, of Adolph J. Rodenbeck for the term ending December 31, 1923; of Fred M. Ackerson for the term ending December 31, 1920; and of Thomas F. Fennell for the term ending December 31, 1917. Adolph J. Rodenbeck, a member of the former Court of Claims, was designated presiding judge.
On April 19, 1915, Governor Whitman appointed the two following additional judges under the authority of section 282 of the Code of Civil Procedure above referred to: Charles R. Paris and Nathaniel P. Willis for the terms ending January 1, 1918. Judg9 Willis resigned on May 4, 1915, and on December 29, 1915, Governor Whitman appointed William D. Cunningham to fill Judge Willis unexpired term.
On March 3, 1916, Judge Adolph J. Rodenbeck resigned by reason of his appointment as a Supreme Court Justice in the seventh judicial district and on March 6, 1916, Governor Whitman appointed William W. Webb to fill Judge Rodenbeck's unexpired term.
Judge Fred M. Ackerson was designated by the Governor on March 6, 1916, as presiding judge.
The Court began its first term at Utica on March 22, 1915. From that date to March 21, 1916 (the first year of the new Court's existence) the Court held almost continuous trial terms for forty-five weeks and spent four additional weeks in joint consultations deciding cases, a total of forty-nine weeks. The Court has taken full advantage of the statutory authority to sit in parts: During considerable of the time since the beginning of the Syracuse term on April 26, 1915, it sat in three parts, and at times sat in four parts. For about ten months of the past year (from March 22, 1915, to March 21, 1916), the Court consisted of only four judges. With the full complement of five judges it is probable that the Court will sit almost continuously while in session in at least three parts.
The Court has made a radical change in calendar practice, the wisdom of which has been amply demonstrated. Under the old rules, with the exception of those claims which on application of the Attorney-General the Court added to the calendar, only those claims were placed on the calendar which were properly noticed for trial by the claimants. The change is two-fold. First, the Court has divided the State into five districts, namely, the Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo districts, and has assigned to each district those counties which by reason of the convenience of the claimants as well as the State should be grouped together. Secondly, commencing with the Syracuse term on November 8, 1915, the Court has on its own initiative placed on the calendar for each district all the claims pending in that district.
The Attorney-General has, despite the considerably added burden it has placed on that office, energetically co-operated by regularly noticing for trial all the claims so placed on the calendar for each district.
The result has been that perhaps for the first time in the history of the State (certainly in recent years) not only the Court but also the other State departments concerned in the adjustment or defense of claims against the State (namely, the Attorney-General, Superintendent of Public Works, State Engineer and Surveyor, and at times other departments) have been able to determine very
definitely just what the situation is that the State has to meet with respect to the claims pending against it.
The new practice permits the obtaining of a report on all pending claims. It brings the claimants and the State into Court, and has already accomplished much in the way of expediting the trial or settlement of meritorious claims, and of putting the Attorney General in a position either (1) to move for the dismissal of those claims which because of laches on the part of the claimants or for other reasons ought not to be tried, or (2) to force to trial those claimants who through delay in the trial of their claims seek to profit at the expense of the State through the accumulation of interest charges or otherwise.
Furthermore, the new practice has already done much (and will continue to do more) in the way of correcting and perfecting the State records relating to claims against the State and of systematizing the work of the Court and of the various State departments concerned in the trial or adjustment of claims.
The following tables give the claims disposed of during the first year's work of the new court, namely, from March 22, 1915, to March 21, 1916, inclusive. It will be noticed however that the claims disposed of in 1915 are separately listed. These tables are followed by (1) a list of the awards filed with the court in 1915 by retired judges of the Court of Appeals acting as official referees under chapter 229 of the Laws of 1911, and (2) a statement of the judgments entered by the Court of Claims in 1915 pursuant to the direction of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, Third Department, and the Court of Appeals.
The following are the claims disposed of by the Court from March 22, 1915, to December 31, 1915, inclusive:
Amount of claimed
award 575-A Abbe, George H., & ano. $4,952 00 $2,000 00 576-A Abbe, George H....
900 00 Dismissed 8669 Adam, Bertram F..... 500 00
Dismissed 2961 Allen, Arch
Dismissed 160 00 544 50 504 50
Name of CB
200 00 2,625 00 9,459 50
297 50 1,000 00 4,000 00 750 00 42 50
75 00 Dismissed Dismissed Dismissed Dismissed Dismissed 2,000 00
200 00 Dismissed
9967 Anderegg, Emil G.. 10326 Ankiewer, Frances 2963 Archer, Willard 2960 Arthur, Dwight 10755 Artlip, Mavor W., & ano.
1248-A Auburn Savings Banki. 10544 Austin, James H...... 2966 Babcock, E. H. 2177-A Bailey, William H., &
ano. 1604-A Baker, Joseph W. 1605-A Baker, Joseph W... 10064 Baldwinsville Light &
Heat Co. 744-A Balmforth, Arthur, et al. 745-A Balmforth, Arthur, et al. 802-A Balmforth, William H.
1222-A Bargy, Mary E.
140 00 500 10 175 00
711-A Barnum, Fred H., & ano. 2601-A Barnum, Fred II., & ano. 2447-A Barrally, Thomas W., &
ano. 2421-A Barrett, Frances L., &
ano. 2965 Barry, Andrew 9760 Barry, John, & ano. 8671 Barry, Stella H..... 9270 Bartrum, Adeline 2037-A Battams, John .. 10541 Battrino, Vincenzo 1314-A Baxter, William E.
297 50 1,084 45
350 00 1,027 25 2,650 00
600 00 2,000 00
3,000 00 Dismissed
207 70 Dismissed
600 000 Dismissed