CITY COURTS


Mayor's Court

     The Mayor's Court replaced the Court of Albany, Rensselaerwyck 
and Schenectady in 1686 when English became the official 
administrative language of the colony of New York.  It was a 
city court that held civil jurisdiction, although it did begin to hear 
some minor criminal cases after 1830.  The court's duties were 
absorbed by the Supreme Court in 1868.  All of the following series 
were labeled Minutes, though actually comprising eight different series.

MINUTES. (1686 -1866,not inclusive). 16 Volumes. 
Arrangement: Chronological. Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk.  
Handwritten.  AVAILABLE ON MICROFILM.

     These sixteen volumes cover the years 1760-1866.  The years 
1686-1760 are included in the Albany Common Council Minutes.  
These minutes, as with those of other courts, reveal only such 
information as the swearing in of jurors, naming of witnesses and 
rulings on orders and motions.  Occasionally found are naturalization 
oaths taken by individuals admitting them to American citizenship. 
The following gaps appear in this series: 1764-1765, 1779-1789 
and 1816-1827.

CRIMINAL MINUTES. (1830-1863). 5 Volumes. 
Arrangement: Chronological.  Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk .
Handwritten. AVAILABLE ON MICROFILM.

     Criminal Minutes contain information on the facts of a case.  One 
learns what crime was committed, when and where it took place, 
upon whom, and the sentence the convict received.  Other 
information involves the setting of bail, pleas entered and grand 
jury indictments.  The more common cases tried included assault, 
burglary, rape, forgery, robbery, gambling (all of which were felonies), 
and petit larceny.

ORDER BOOKS (1807-1847). 12 Volumes.  Arrangement: Chronological.  
Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk.  Handwritten. 
AVAILABLE ON MICROFILM.

     Order Books are a record of court orders.  According to 
Black's Law Dictionary an order is "a direction of a court or judge 
made or entered in writing, and not included in a judgement.  
An application for an order is a motion." Court orders often directed 
sheriffs or coroners to perform a certain function for the court; 
orders are used to appoint referees or guardians.  Sometimes, 
certain facts of a case can be ascertained from these records.


JUDGEMENT DOCKETS. (1780-1841, not inclusive). 3 Volumes. 
Arrangement-.  Chronological Then Alphabetical.  Agency Origin: 
Albany County Clerk.  Handwritten.  
AVAILABLE ON MICROFILM.

     This is a register of civil cases arranged by the last name of the 
person against whom judgement was obtained.  Other information 
includes how the judgement was obtained (by verdict, confession 
or default), the damages, the date the judgement was filed and whether 
satisfaction was obtained.  According to the records, many judgements 
were never satisfied or, if they were, they were not recorded.  The years 
1819-1836 are missing from this series.


WRIT BOOKS. (1812-1832, not inclusive). 5 Volumes.  Arrangement: 
Chronological Then Alphabetical.  Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk. 
Handwritten.  AVAILABLE ON MICROFILM.

     This series consists of registers of issuance and return of court 
writs. According to Black's Law Dictionary, a writ is "an order issued 
from a court requiring the performance of a specified act, or giving 
authority to have it done".  These writ books state the case name, 
date the writ was returned (i.e., satisfied or completed), the fee, date 
filed and the attorney's name.

JUDGEMENTS. (1802-1811). 1 Cubic Foot.  Arrangement: Chronological.  
Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk.  Handwritten.

     These judgements concern the failure to pay promissory notes.  
These records are a good source for obtaining the facts of a case, 
since they reveal the reasons why people signed the notes and how 
much the notes were worth.


ENTRIES OF APPEARANCE. (1830-1839). 1 Volume. 
Arrangement: Chronological.  Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk. 
Handwritten.  AVAILABLE ON MICROFILM.

     This volume is a record of persons who were served a summons, the date, 
and whether they appeared in court.


ATTORNEY'S DAYBOOK. (1815). 1 Volume.  Arrangement: Alphabetical. 
Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk.  Handwritten. AVAILABLE ON MICROFILM.

     An administrative record of the court, the Day Book is a 
record of meals eaten by attorneys (usually veal, beef  or mutton) 
and when the tab was paid.

Albany Justice's Court

     Founded in 1691, this court heard minor civil cases for the city of 
Albany and was replaced by the City Court in 1883.

DOCKETS. (1822-1882, not inclusive). 45 Volumes. 
Arrangement: Chronological.  Agency Origin: Albany City Court. 
Handwritten.  Indexed.


     These records contain important information, enough to ascertain what 
the case was about.  Although some entries are more complete than others, 
most share this information: when a summons was served, what the complaint 
was about and whether the defendant appeared in court on the appointed day. 
The majority of cases were for non-payment for goods or services, damage 
to real or personal property, and negligence, with most of the judgements 
ranging from five to fifty dollars



Albany City Court

     The City Court replaced the Justice's Court in 1883 and heard the 
same type of minor civil cases as its predecessor did.

DOCKETS. (1883-1939). 162 Volumes.  Arrangement: Chronological. 
Agency Origin: Albany City Court.  Handwritten.  Indexed.


     Since the only difference between the Justice's Court and the 
City Court was a change in name, these dockets are almost identical 
in form and content to the Justice's Court dockets.  This series 
records when a summons was served, what a complaint was about, 
and other information involving cases of negligence, non-payment for 
goods or services, damage to real or personal property and 
similar cases.

SUMMARY PROCEEDINGS. (1931-1947). 13 Volumes. 
Arrangement: Chronological.  Agency Origin: Albany City Court. 
Handwritten.

     This series deals with the non-payment of mortgages and rents, for 
which mortgagees and landlords found satisfaction in the City Court.  
The court awarded mortgagees "possession of premises to the 
petitioner" and landlords were awarded "judgement on rent" or 
the right to evict a tenant.  The records reveal the name of the 
plaintiff and defendant, the judgement, and the location of 
the premises in question.


INDEX TO CASES. (1938-1961, not inclusive). 22 Volumes.
Arrangement: Chronological Then Alphabetical.  Agency Origin: 
Albany City Court.  Handwritten.


     An administrative record, this series is arranged alphabetically 
by both defendant's and plaintiff's name and includes a number.  
The purpose of the number is not clear, referring possibly 
to case papers which seem to have been destroyed.



The Court of Special Sessions.

     One must be careful not to confuse the Court of Special Sessions, 
a city court, with the Court of Sessions, a county court.  
The Court of Special Sessions heard minor criminal cases 
(misdemeanors), such as public intoxication, indecent exposure and 
keeping a disorderly house. (According to Black's Law Dictionary,
a disorderly house "has a wide meaning, and includes bawdy houses, 
houses of prostitution and places of like character").

MINUTES. (1893-1937). 3 Volumes.  Arrangement: Chronological.  
Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk.  Handwritten. 
AVAILABLE ON MICROFILM.

     This series reveals scant information on the facts of a case. 
Rulings on motions, pleas entered and sentencing are 
the most common entries.


RECORD OF CONVICTIONS. (1882-1911). 3 Volumes.  
Arrangement: Chronological.  Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk. 
Handwritten.

     This is a good source for obtaining the pertinent facts of a case.  
A brief description of the crime reveals the name of the convict, 
where he or she was born, his or her victim, if any, where the crime was 
committed and a description of the goods stolen, if any.


COMMITMENTS. (1911-1929). 1 Volume.  Arrangement: Chronological.  
Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk.  Handwritten.

     Quite similar to the Record of Convictions, it gives such useful 
information as the name of the convict, his or her crime and victim 
(if any), his or her birthplace and where the crime took place.


RECORD OF ARRAIGNMENTS. (1912-1925). 2 Volumes.
Arrangement: Chronological.  Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk.
Handwritten.  Indexed.

     Simply labeled "Volumes", this series records information on an 
accused's arraignment in court: the date, the charge and how the 
accused pleaded.  Sometimes the outcome of a case is revealed 
with the statements "dismissed" or "withdrawn".

INDICTMENTS. 1920-1934. 1 Volume.  Arrangement: Chronological. 
Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk.  Typed.

     This series records the date received, the charge, 
the arraignment date, and the plea.



POLICE COURT

      Founded in 1805, The Police Court is a city criminal court which, 
according to the records, dealt with minor criminal cases.


JUSTICE'S DOCKET. (1895-1915). 61 Volumes.  
Arrangement: Chronological.  Agency Origin: Albany Police Court. 
Handwritten.  Indexed.

     This series contains brief but valuable information on each entry: 
the name of the arresting officer, the date of arrest, the charge, the plea, 
and often, the outcome of the case.  If the person was found guilty, 
the usual punishment was a small fine or a few days in jail.  
Crimes tried included breach of the peace, vagrancy, and public 
intoxication.


GRAND JURY CASES. (1919-1974, not inclusive). 4 Cubic Feet. 
Arrangement: Chronological.  Agency Origin: Albany County Clerk.
Handwritten and Typed.

      This series contains substantial information on each case.  
Included are warrants, complaints and full transcripts of some cases.  
Most of these records are convictions from the Police Court, 
but the records of various town courts are also located in this series. 
A rather large gap appears: 1924-1961 are missing.

NEXT CHAPTER