State Supreme Court Justices visit county attorneys


Special to the OBSERVER

MAYVILLE – New York State Supreme Court Justice John Curran spoke recently regarding the evolution of electronic discoveries.

The lunch-hour session took place at the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, and revolved around E-discoveries in the New York state judicial system. The session was attended by more than two dozen area attorneys and judges.

Curran discussed the responsibilities and consequences arising from a duty to preserve and the rights of others to demand electronically stored items.

Today’s digitally dominated society played a big role in bringing the state Supreme Court justice to Chautauqua County, said Lori Thierfeldt, secretary to the Robert H. Jackson Inn of Court.

“He’s definitely a great speaker,” Thierfeldt said of Curran. “He definitely knows his stuff on this issue, and he’s done a lot of discussions on it.”

The Continuing Legal Education seminar hit primarily on electronic discovery in New York state. According to Curran, E-discovery is used to obtain electronically stored information, including Internet documents, emails, text message and voicemails that could be used in lawsuits and legal claims.

Curran, a 1984 University at Buffalo Law School graduate, explored numerous court cases in which E-discovery was utilized. Curran was appointed to the New York State Supreme Court in 2004 by then-Gov. George Pataki.

Several attorneys questioned how data stored on a computer or cellphone could be retrieved for court. Curran noted that companies have specialized in finding information, even after it has been deleted.

“There are ways that information can be found,” he said, noting that lawyers “way back in the day” used to send computers to Seattle to be analyzed. “Today, a lot of that can be done right here.”

Retired Supreme Court Justice Joseph Gerace Sr., co-president, with Arthur N. Bailey of the Inn of Court, said of E-discovery prior to the seminar: “In my 50-plus years of practice and as a Supreme Court Justice, I cannot recall when a single procedure has the potential of impacting a law practice and its clients – individual, small businesses or corporate – or that presents a greater risk of serious sanctions for attorneys and clients involved in civil, domestic and criminal cases than an E-discovery demand in a New York court.”