How can I "scrape" some stats for NY Appellate Division orders?
March 18, 2021 7:12 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to get some stats from New York First Department Appellate Division orders, INAL

I don't have Lexus or anything like that, what I'm looking for is:

1) Over some period of time, as long as possible really, how many 1st dept. orders issued, have been unanimous on the cited grounds of all three of: issue of law, issue of fact, and issue of judicial discretion?

2) How many times has an appeal been won in 1st dept. without an attorney?

and ideally 3) The intersection of 1) and 2). All three without counsel?

Yes, that was me, and I just want an idea how probable that was.
posted by StickyCarpet to Law & Government (9 answers total)
Best answer: You can't. Even if someone were otherwise breaking down these stats (technically possible, but probably very expensive, because it would have to be done by hand), appeals aren't usually decided on "cited grounds of all three of: issue of law, issue of fact, and issue of judicial discretion." Because of the different standards of review, most appeals are on matters of law, with the facts not being disputed. Under most circumstances, even when the Appellate Division takes the unusual step of overturning lower-court fact-finding, it remands to the lower court for further proceedings. And judicial discretion itself (which has a much more technical and narrow application than seems to be implied here) is generally a matter of law and is probably raised in even fewer cases.

Also, it is not routine (though it does happen) for an appellate court judge to write a concurrence to indicate that they disagree on a non-dispositive issue. That is, a judge might well disagree with something in what I think you're trying to encompass in your "grounds" but not write separately to say so if they agreed with the outcome. That's extra work, and while a concurrence by a Court of Appeals judge might actually have an effect on the whole state's law (by potentially preventing a particular holding from being endorsed by a majority of the court), a concurrence by an Appellate Division judge won't. So you wouldn't even be able to pick that up by reading the majority opinion itself. Getting a "unanimous" victory thus isn't the notable bonus points that you might think the way a 9-0 U.S. Supreme Court decision might be.

The only thing on your list you might technically be able to identify is (2), but I think you'd need Westlaw or Lexis to do that. NYSCEF will shut you down tout suite for unauthorized scraping.

P.S. Kindly, if you're asking this because you're planning on writing a novel or book or something and you're hoping to be vaguely realistic, you should probably refine your understanding of the appellate process first. (On the other hand, if you're just writing a romance novel where your hero is The Bestest Jailhouse Lawyer ever, you can probably dispense with the research altogether...)
posted by praemunire at 7:52 PM on March 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

(But! Congratulations on your victory.)
posted by praemunire at 7:52 PM on March 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not to challenge the premise, but it is an extremely bad idea to scrape court systems. Here is an Ars Technica article on Aaron Swartz's campaign to scrape PACER. He was brought up on federal charges and killed himself. (Sadly enough, the Open Courts Act may achieve what he was originally seeking.)
posted by metabaroque at 9:19 PM on March 18, 2021 [1 favorite]

(Note: Swartz was not prosecuted for scraping PACER, but rather JSTOR, which is a private, non-court-related entity.

Abusing the edit window to add that if I had to guess, I'd say that pro se parties winning in the Appellate Division is not at all common, though I couldn't put percentages on it, so, OP, if you just want to know whether you accomplished something unusual--you did.)
posted by praemunire at 9:23 PM on March 18, 2021 [2 favorites]

praemunire is right about pretty much everything. I will say that the First Department will often give more leeway to a pro se party, especially when the appeal is based on a dispute over procedure, as yours was.
posted by holborne at 2:10 PM on March 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks praemunire for the answers. Maybe I'll get a "The Bestest Jailhouse Lawyer ever" coffee mug (despite being the plaintiff in the underlying case). I'm not so full of myself on the appeal, in part it indicates that I did not do a good job making my case at the lower court.

Or maybe the judge was no good, but I can't even think that, because, as you say, I'm going right back to him. And I do respect the court, and the justice system.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:09 PM on March 19, 2021

Hey, actual lawyers pat themselves on the back when they win in the Appellate Division, you're entitled to a mug if you want one!
posted by praemunire at 6:40 PM on March 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just FYI: Judge Marin retired in December, so your case will be reassigned.
posted by holborne at 9:02 PM on March 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just FYI: Judge Marin retired

Nice one, holborne!

I've been trying to figure that out, having heard rumors.
Justice Madden got "early retired", and replaced by Justice Edwards in my ongoing Article 78.
So I have two new audiences for oral arguments.
Loved Madden, not so much Marin.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:12 PM on March 19, 2021

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