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Zimmerman's Research Guide


New York City

This entry covers:

I. General Sources for NYC Materials

New York County Lawyers' Association (NYCLA) Library - 212-267-6646 x206 or x207

Association of the Bar of the City of New York (ABCNY) Library - 212-382-6711

City Hall Library - 212-788-8590

New York State Library (in Albany) - 518-474-5355

New York State Legislative Library - 518-455-4000

New York Legislative Service - 212-962-2826

The Columbia University Library's New York City Documents page posts links to useful New York City Web sites. The Documents Page also provides information on how to get official NYC documents, plus excellent information about New York City newspapers and information on NYC schools.

To buy materials published by New York City, visit the CityStore.

II. Legislative Branch Information

Bills: NYC bills are called "Intros," short for "Introductory Bills." Intros back to 1998 are posted by the City Council. Otherwise, get copies from the New York Legislative Service.

Local Laws: NYC session laws are called the "Local Laws of New York City." They are published first in The City Record and later in the bound volumes of the New York City Legislative Annual and the Local Laws of New York City.

However, I generally get Local Laws online, where they are posted from 1998 by the City Council. I generally get copies of older Laws from the New York Legislative Service. Current local laws are also available on Westlaw (NYC-AMEND).

Charter & Code: Annotated editions of the New York City Charter and Administrative Code are published by Command Information Services (formerly Lenz & Riecker, Inc.) and the New York Legal Publishing Corporation. Neither version is especially current. Annotations to the blue & black Command looseleaf are printed under a separate tab at the end of each volume.

The Charter is available on the website of the New York City Charter Revision Commission and the Code is available at the end of the New York Legislature's Laws of New York. They are searchable through Westlaw (NYC-C and NYC-CODE) and Lexis (NY;NYCCHT and NY;NYCCDE) and Loislaw.

The Administrative Code was recodified in 1985, and all the section numbers were changed. The published Code editions have derivation and distribution tables that allow you to correlate pre- and post-codification section numbers. If you don't have a Code available, the New York Legislative Service (212-962-2826) will trace sections for you.

To update the Code:

(a) Search Intros and Local Laws posted by the City Council and/or call the New York Legislative Service and have them check for you; and

(b) Call the agency that administers the legislation in question and ask them if there have been any recent changes or if any are proposed. Agency phone numbers are published in The Green Book Online. If that doesn't work, try to find the agency's Web site (discussed below) or call information.

Legislative History: There generally is no published NYC legislative history. To determine legislative intent (a) Call the agency or legislators and find out what they can tell you, (b) search NY newspapers and (c) get a bill jacket.

Bill jackets are informal compilations of bill-related materials. In NYC, bill jackets are compiled by the Mayor's Office and the City Council, and both versions usually have the same materials. The Mayor's versions are kept in the NYC Archives, and the Council's are kept in warehouse storage. To get copies, your best bet is to call the New York Legislative Service (212-962-2826); they keep some NYC bill jackets on file, and they know how to retrieve others from the NYC Archives and the Council's warehouse.

Alternatively, you can ask the New York Legislative Service (212-962-2826) to compile a legislative history for you. They will pull together anything available from the mayor' and council's offices, public hearing transcripts, and any other relevant material that they can find.

NYC Legislature: The New York City Council posts information about Council operations and Council members.

Zoning Resolution: New York City zoning rules, known as the Zoning Resolution, are posted by the Department of City Planning.

III. Executive Branch Information

(1) NYC Agencies (and top personnel) are listed in The Green Book Online. Otherwise, try to get contact info from the agency's Web site (discussed below) or call Information (212-555-1212).

(2) Links to NYC Government Web sites are posted by the Columbia University Library's New York City Documents page.

(3) Finance Quarterly Bulletin, published by the NYC Dept of Finance, discusses NY City tax issues.

(4) The final regulations of New York agencies are published officially, with annotations in The Official Rules of the City of New York (RCNY) by the New York Legal Publishing Corporation. They are available free online through the Public Access Portal to the Laws of the City of New York. They are searchable on Lexis (NY;NYCRUL) and Westlaw (NYC-RULES).

(5) A bi-weekly news service called CityRegs, published by the Center for New York City Law, publishes summaries of proposed rules & regulations.

(6) The Mayor's Executive Orders are published in the New York Legislative Service's New York City Report (since 1977) and the New York City Legislative Annual (since 1991). Executive Orders are included in the Center For New York City Law's CityAdmin Online Library. Executive Orders from 1974-2013 are also posted on the website of the Department of Records.

(7) NYC Corporation Counsel opinions are available on Westlaw (NYC-CCO).

(8) Administrative agency decisions from the Conflicts of Interest Board, the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, the Office of Collective Bargaining, the Loft Board, and many others are posted by the Center for New York City Law. Decisions from the Conflicts of Interest Board are also on Lexis (NY;NYCCIB) and Westlaw (NYC-ETH). Westlaw has materials from the Commission on Human Rights (NYCCIV-ADMIN since 1970) and the Department of Finance and Division of Tax Appeals (NYCTX-ADMIN).

IV. Miscellaneous NYC Information

(1) The most comprehensive directory of New York City government is The Green Book, which is available free as of 2012 as The Green Book Online. If you don't have a copy available, try the online New York City Government Guide.

(2) Residential tax rates are published in the "factual highlights" section of the Green Book.

(3) Westlaw has files with the New York county clerk's Judgment Docket and Lien Books (NY-JL-DOCK) and "information relating to civil matters filed with the county clerk" (NY-CTYCK-DOCK).

(4) The Columbia University Library posts a page of Internet links to Web sites with New York City Documents. The page also links to sites that:

    Rank & describe individual NY schools
    Provide NYC-related statistics
    Post the NYC Zoning Handbook
    Provide NYC Housing Vacancy Surveys

(5) NYC-related materials are indexed in the NYC subset of the Index to Current Urban Documents.

(6) Vital Records: NYC birth and death certificates are available from the New York City Department of Health, Division of Vital Records. Forms and instructions are posted by the Office of Vital Records. Forms to get older records are posted by the Municipal Archives (212-NEW-YORK). NYC marriage records (back to 1930 are available from the City's Clerk's Office. Prior to 1930, check with the Municipal Archives . See also Where to Write for Vital Records: New York City and the separate entry for "Vital Records."

(8) CITYLAW is a bi-monthly journal that "reports in synopsis format the most significant legislative, administrative and judicial decisions that, collectively, comprise New York City Law." Articles are searchable on Lexis (NY;CITYL) and Westlaw (CITYL).

Copies of the primary materials referenced in CITYLAW can be purchased from the library of the Center for New York City Law.

(9) Advisory opinions of the Conflicts of Interest Board, the ethics board for New York City Government, are posted by the Center for New York City Law. Opinions are searchable on Lexis (NY; NYCCIB) and Westlaw (NYC-ETH) back to 1990.

Opinions of the CIB's predecessor, the New York City Board of Ethics, were published in a series called Board of Ethics Opinions. Formal opinions of the New York City Bar's Committee on Professional and Judicial Ethics are available on the committee's website and also on Lexis (NY;NYCBAR).

For more resources, see the New York City Legal Research guide posted by the Kissim Memorial Library at Fordham Law School and/or Sources of New York City Law and Regulations by Gretchen Feltes at the New York University Law Library.

See Also
Document Retrieval Services
New York State - Other Useful Information
Vital Records

For comments, questions and suggestions, email the author
Copyright 2015 Andrew Zimmerman