Preliminary Guide to Environmental Sources
[Note: Records documenting environmentally focused legal issues are scattered throughout record series generated by the Unified Court System and its predecessors. Users should consult with State Archives personnel before commencing research.]
Unified Court System, Office of Court Administration
Unified Court System
New York's unified court system was organized pursuant to constitutional amendments and statutes which went into effect in 1962. Central administration of the court system was further specified by 1978 constitutional amendments and by laws passed in 1974 and 1978. The main objectives of the court system are to provide a forum for fair resolution of civil and family matters, juvenile and criminal charges, and citizen-State disputes; supervise administration of estates, consider adoption petitions, and preside over divorce matters; provide legal protection for children, the mentally ill, and others unable to manage their own affairs; and regulate admission to the bar and the conduct of lawyers.
The unified court system is comprised of trial courts (courts of original jurisdiction), which hear cases in the first instance, and appellate courts, which hear and determine appeals from decisions of trial courts. Trial courts of limited jurisdiction adjudicate misdemeanors, violations, and minor civil matters and preside over arraignments and other preliminary proceedings in felony cases (which are then prosecuted in county-level courts). Outside of New York City, various city, town, village, and district courts handle minor civil and criminal matters. The jurisdiction of the city courts varies according to the terms of the city charter: some handle only civil cases, some only criminal cases, and some both. In New York City, the civil court adjudicates civil matters involving amounts up to $25,000, including small claims and housing matters (e.g., landlord-tenant disputes), and other civil matters referred to it by the supreme court; the criminal court adjudicates misdemeanors, traffic infractions, and violations.
There are three county-level courts. The county court, established in each county outside of New York City, has jurisdiction over indictable crimes committed within the county and has jurisdiction in civil cases in which the amount demanded does not exceed $25,000. The family court, established in each county and in New York City, has jurisdiction over matters involving children and families, including support of dependents, juvenile delinquency, persons in need of supervision, child protection, review and approval of foster-care placements, adoption proceedings, paternity determinations, and family offenses. The surrogate's court, established in each county, has jurisdiction over cases involving affairs of decedents, including probate of wills, administration of estates, and adoption proceedings. The supreme court has both original and appellate jurisdiction. As a trial court, the supreme court possesses unlimited original jurisdiction in law and equity, but it generally hears cases not falling within the jurisdiction of other courts. The supreme court exercises civil jurisdiction in every county. In New York City and some upstate counties it also exercises jurisdiction over felony cases. The supreme court appellate division has four departments and twelve judicial districts. The appellate division third department reviews cases from administrative adjudication tribunals such as the Workers' Compensation Board, the Commissioner of Education, and the Public Service Commission.
The court of claims is a statewide court hearing claims for monetary damages against the State.
The court of appeals is New York State's highest court. It hears cases on appeal from lower appellate courts and, in some capital cases, directly from trial courts. Its review is usually limited to questions of law; in capital cases it may rule on questions of both law and fact. The court of appeals also reviews determinations of the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Office of Court Administration
The State constitution (Article VI, Section 28) designates the chief judge of the court of appeals as the chief judge of the State and its chief judicial officer. The chief judge appoints a chief administrator of the courts (called chief administrative judge of the courts if the incumbent is a judge). The appointment is made with the advice and consent of the Administrative Board of the Courts, comprised of the chief judge as chair and the presiding judges of the four supreme court appellate division departments.
The chief judge consults with the administrative board to establish statewide standards and administrative policies, promulgating them after approval by the court of appeals.
The chief administrator directs the Office of Court Administration, the head administrative office for the courts. Through this office the chief administrator supervises the administration and operation of the trial courts, assisted by several other offices. Two deputy chief administrative judges supervise the day-to-day operations of the trial courts. The Office of Management Support, headed by the chief administrator for management support, provides personnel, budget administration, planning, education, public information, employee relations, records management, and other support services for all court and related operations. Counsel's Office provides legal assistance to the chief administrator, including preparation and analysis of legislation and representing the unified court system in litigation.
Administrative judges in each judicial district are responsible for management of trial courts, managing court case loads as well as general administrative functions such as budgeting and personnel. The appellate division in each department is responsible for administration and management of its court.
Colonial New York's supreme judicial authority rested in the office of the governor. The governor, with an advisory council, established such inferior courts as were deemed necessary and usually served as the court of last resort. Under British rule, the court system evolved into a series of courts exercising superior jurisdiction including the supreme court of judicature, court of chancery, prerogative court (supervising the administration of estates), and court of vice admiralty (handling maritime cases). Courts exercising inferior jurisdiction included the county courts of common pleas, the mayor's courts, and criminal courts of general sessions (county) and special sessions (local).
The first State constitution of 1777 continued the colonial court system essentially intact. The court of probates was founded in 1778, replacing the prerogative court. The court for the correction of errors, organized in 1784, replaced the governor as New York's highest court.
The second State constitution of 1821 established eight judicial circuits. Each held its own circuit court presided over by a judge appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate. Circuit court rulings and verdicts could be appealed to the supreme court of judicature, comprised of a chief justice and two associates. The supreme court's business was principally hearing and deciding on appellate matters; the circuit judges presided over trials of supreme court cases. The constitution also allowed the circuit judges to be vested with equity powers, which the legislature conferred on them in 1823 (Chapter 182). Also in 1823 (Chapter 70), the court of probates was abolished. Its appellate jurisdiction was vested in the court of chancery; its other functions were given to the surrogate courts.
The third State constitution of 1846 reorganized the court system into a form more closely resembling today's system. The court for the trial of impeachments and the correction of errors was abolished. A new court of appeals was established as the State's highest appellate court. The court of chancery was abolished and its jurisdiction transferred to a reorganized, elective supreme court, which became the highest court of original, unlimited jurisdiction for questions of both law and equity. Eight general terms of the supreme court, one for each judicial district, were established as courts of intermediate appeal. The surrogate's court was given constitutional recognition. The jurisdiction of the county courts was significantly reduced and the legislature was empowered to establish additional inferior civil and criminal courts as necessary.
The judiciary article added to the constitution in 1869 further reorganized the court system. Effective in 1870, the State was divided into four departments, each with a supreme court general term to hear and decide appeals. The eight judicial districts were distributed among the departments. The composition of the reorganized court of appeals was set at seven elected judges with fourteen-year terms. A Temporary Commission of Appeals, lasting five years, was created to help dispose of the backlog of cases that had built up in the old court of appeals.
To deal with the large number of cases in the supreme court, the legislature increased the number of justices in 1879 and 1882. To reduce the backlog of cases in the court of appeals, an 1888 constitutional amendment provided for a second division of the court of appeals consisting of seven supreme court justices designated by the governor to act as associate judges.
The fourth State constitution of 1894 changed the organization of the supreme court. The circuit courts (civil) and courts of oyer and terminer (criminal) were abolished and replaced by trial terms of the supreme court. The second division of the court of appeals was abolished. Effective in 1896, an appellate division of the supreme court was created to hear all appeals previously heard in the supreme court general terms.
Several constitutional amendments passed between 1895 and 1915 helped the judiciary to cope with the increase in litigation. In 1897 the Board of Claims, a tribunal hearing claims against the State, was reorganized as the court of claims. In 1899 the court of appeals was temporarily expanded to handle its backlog of cases. A 1905 amendment enabled the legislature to set specified ratios of supreme court justices to population, increased the number of judges in the appellate division, and allowed for the establishment of an additional judicial district. An 1896 statute and a 1915 constitutional amendment authorized the appellate division in the first and second departments to set up appellate terms as first-level appeal courts.
A Temporary Commission on the Courts was created in 1953 to study problems facing the judiciary. The study led to major reorganization of the judiciary in 1962 (State constitution, article VI and Laws of 1962, Chapters 684 and 685) and to the establishment of the unified court system. The children's courts statewide, and the county courts and several other courts in New York City, were abolished. The Administrative Board of the Judicial Conference, comprised of the chief judge of the court of appeals and the presiding justices of the four appellate divisions, was created with responsibility for administering the unified court system. The Office of Court Administration was created in 1974 (Chapter 615) as the statewide administrative office for the courts. A law of 1978 (Chapter 156) assigned to the chief judge of the court of appeals responsibility for the administrative supervision of the court system and, with the Administrative Board, for establishing statewide administrative standards and policies. The chief judge was to appoint a chief administrator of the courts (called the chief administrative judge of the courts if the incumbent is a judge) to direct the Office of Court Administration and supervise the administration and operation of the trial courts.
Court of Appeals
Current Functions. The court of appeals is New York State's highest court and court of last resort with appellate jurisdiction only. It hears cases on appeal from the appellate division and from trial courts in capital cases. Its review is generally limited to questions of law; in capital cases it may rule on both law and fact. The court of appeals also reviews determinations of the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Organizational History. Under British colonial rule, appeals from the supreme court of judicature in New York were made to the royal governor and his council, sitting as a court later referred to as the court for the correction of errors and appeals. The court of last resort was the King's Privy Council, which met in London.
The first State constitution in 1777 established the court for the trial of impeachments and correction of errors, replacing the governor and council as New York State's court of last resort. This court, known as the court for the correction of errors, exercised final appellate and impeachment jurisdiction. Modeled after the British House of Lords, which served as Great Britain's court of last resort, the court consisted of the president of the senate (lieutenant governor), the senators, the chancellor, and the supreme court justices.
The constitution directed the legislature to define details of court operation. A resulting 1784 law (Chapter 11) authorized the court for the correction of errors to handle cases from the supreme court of judicature, the court of chancery, and the court of probates. The law also established the court's basic operating procedures and directed the Council of Appointment to appoint a court clerk. In 1823 the court of probates was abolished and its appellate jurisdiction over the surrogate courts was transferred to the court of chancery.
The 1846 State constitution abolished the court for the correction of errors and transferred its functions as a court of last resort to the newly established court of appeals. The impeachment function was transferred to the new court for the trial of impeachments. A law of 1847 (Chapter 280) implemented these constitutional provisions, mandating the transfer of all undecided court of errors cases and all court of errors records to the court of appeals effective July 1847. Pursuant to the same statute, the court of appeals also assumed custody of most records of the abolished court of chancery, the Albany, Utica, and Geneva offices of the supreme court of judicature, and the court of probates.
The court of appeals consisted of eight elective judges until reorganized by the Judiciary Article of 1869. The number of judges was then set at seven, with fourteen-year terms and mandatory retirement at age 70. New judges were appointed in 1870. A Temporary Commission of Appeals, lasting five years, was set up to help dispose of the backlog of cases that had built up in the old court of appeals. Further steps were taken to reduce the backlog in 1888 when a constitutional amendment provided for a second division of the court of appeals consisting of seven supreme court justices designated by the governor to act as associate judges. This second division continued until the fourth State constitution of 1894 established (effective January 1, 1896) an appellate division of the supreme court with intermediate appellate jurisdiction, hearing appeals previously heard in the supreme court general terms.
When the unified court system was established in 1962 (Chapters 684 and 685), the chief judge of the court of appeals, along with the presiding justices of the four appellate divisions, comprised the Administrative Board of the Judicial Conference with responsibility for administering the unified court system. Court of appeals judgeships became appointive positions (they were previously elective positions).
A 1978 constitutional amendment and law (Chapter 156) assigned to the chief judge of the court of appeals responsibility for the administrative supervision of the court system and, with the Administrative Board, for establishing statewide administrative standards and policies. The chief judge was to appoint a chief administrator of the courts (called the chief administrative judge of the courts if the incumbent is a judge) to direct the Office of Court Administration and supervise the administration and operation of the trial courts.
Current Functions. The supreme court is the trial court of general unlimited jurisdiction in law and equity, subject to the limited appellate jurisdiction of the court of appeals. The supreme court exercises jurisdiction over civil cases in every county; in New York City and some other parts of the State, it also exercises jurisdiction over felony cases. The supreme court appellate division hears appeals concerning civil and criminal cases and administrative adjudication decisions by State agencies.
Court of Assizes. Before the supreme court of judicature was established in 1691, other courts were operating in New York. Following the British conquest of New Netherland, the court of assizes was established in 1664 under the authority of the Duke of York, proprietor of the colony. Equity jurisdiction was conferred upon the court by a 1665 amendment to the Duke's Laws establishing the government of the colony. The court consisted of the governor, his council, and two justices from each of the three judicial districts (or "ridings") located in the southern part of the colony. After 1675, representatives from Kingston and Albany often sat as part of the court.
The court of assizes was the highest court of law and equity in the province. It exercised exclusive jurisdiction in cases of capital offenses and appellate jurisdiction in all criminal and civil matters. Its conduct of equity proceedings was modeled after the high court of chancery in England.
The court of assizes was abolished in 1684 (Chapter 31) by the colonial assembly, and its pending cases transferred to the court of chancery established the previous year.
Supreme Court of Judicature. The current supreme court evolved from a series of predecessor courts dating back to May 6, 1691, when New York's colonial assembly established the supreme court of judicature. Generally referred to as the supreme court, this was New York State's highest common-law court possessing both original and appellate jurisdiction. It combined the jurisdictions of three English courts: court of king's bench, the court of common pleas, and the court of exchequer.
The colonial supreme court of judicature and county-level courts had overlapping original jurisdiction over criminal cases, over civil actions in which the amount demanded was over a certain sum, and over actions concerning title to real property. The supreme court also possessed appellate jurisdiction over the lower courts.
Appeals from the supreme court were allowed in civil cases involving over 100 pounds (300 pounds after 1753). These appeals were made to the royal governor and his council (sitting as what later became known as the court for the correction of errors and appeals). The court of last resort was the Privy Council, which met in London.
The supreme court bench was comprised of a chief justice and two (three after 1758) associate justices appointed by the governor and commissioned by him to hold courts. Through the colonial period, the court held regular terms twice a year in New York City. An act of 1693 authorized the justices to hold courts in each county at least once a year to try civil and criminal cases. Most civil cases were tried in these courts. A justice holding a court was also empowered to hold a court of oyer and terminer, a criminal court in which grand juries returned indictments against suspects who were then tried in this court or in the supreme court.
Article 35 of the first State constitution of 1777 continued the colonial court system largely unchanged. Until the judicial reorganization of 1847, the supreme court of judicature, with five justices, remained the State's highest court of law holding original jurisdiction. However, Article 32 of the 1777 constitution established a court for the trial of impeachments and correction of errors, replacing the governor and council as the court of last resort in New York.
Supreme court justices continued to hold circuit courts, courts of oyer and terminer, and two regular terms each year. A law of 1785 required four annual regular terms, two in New York City and two in Albany. In 1820, one New York term was moved to Utica; in 1841, one Albany term was moved to Rochester. After 1823 there were eight separate circuit judges who presided over trials in circuit courts.
During its terms, the court heard arguments and ruled on points of law raised during pleading in supreme court or during trial proceedings in the circuit courts, and reviewed cases appealed from county-level civil and criminal courts and (before 1830) from justices' courts. Beginning in 1830, special terms were authorized to be held monthly to conduct business not on the court calendar, such as hearing motions for change of venue or for other special "rules." The third State constitution of 1846 abolished the court of chancery as of July 1, 1847. Original jurisdiction for equity matters was transferred to the supreme court.
Court of Probates. The court of probates originated in the late 17th century as the British authorities established a centralized probate system in the colony. It declined in importance during the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a decentralized probate system based on local surrogate courts developed.
During the Dutch colonial period, a will was signed by the testator, two witnesses, and a magistrate, who recorded it in a record book. This system continued briefly when the British gained control of the colony in 1664 but was soon replaced by the English system of probating wills. Under the Duke's Laws of 1665 the newly established court of sessions was empowered to probate wills, grant administration in cases of intestacy, order the final accounting of an executor or administrator, remove an executor or administrator, order the distribution of an estate, and appoint a guardian in English-speaking areas outside of New York City. In New York City, the mayor's court, established in 1664, performed these functions. On occasion the court of assizes handled probate matters.
The first step toward a centralized "prerogative" office or court came in 1670 when the court of assizes passed an ordinance requiring that all wills and grants of administration be recorded in the provincial secretary's office. In 1686 a de facto prerogative court was introduced into New York pursuant to royal instructions reserving the right to probate wills and grant letters of administration to the royal governor.
A 1691 law (Chapter 4) transferred civil jurisdiction, including that over probate matters, from the court of sessions to the courts of common pleas, newly established in every city and county in the colony. A 1692 law (Chapter 27) granted the royal governor or his "delegate under the seal of the Prerogative Office" the power to admit wills to probate and to grant letters of administration, thus legally establishing the prerogative court. Estates of all decedents in the counties of New York, Richmond, Westchester, Kings, and Orange (until 1750) were to be settled before this court. Probate and other estate proceedings in all other counties were to be conducted before the county court of common pleas, with appeals taken to the prerogative court in New York City.
The prerogative court consisted of the governor and a register who was the court's chief administrative and record-keeping officer. In the early 18th century the registers began using the title "principal surrogate" to describe their authority as delegate of the governor and deputy judge of the court. By the mid-18th century this officer conducted most of the court's business. "Surrogates" were also appointed by the governor in remote counties to take depositions of witnesses to wills and to administer oaths to executors and administrators who could not travel to New York City. These surrogates were not probate judges but agents of the prerogative court.
New York's first State constitution in 1777 granted the Council of Appointment the power to appoint surrogates. A year later the legislature replaced the prerogative court with a court of probates (Laws of 1778, Chapter 12) with a single judge appointed by the Council of Appointment. The judge was granted all powers formerly held by the royal governor in testamentary matters except for appointment of surrogates. Appeals were now made to the court for the trial of impeachments and correction of errors. The court of probates held sittings in different parts of the State until 1783, when it was held exclusively in New York City. In 1799 the court moved to Albany.
A law of 1787 (Chapter 38) radically changed New York State's probate system, establishing a surrogate's court in each county. The surrogates, now in effect probate judges, were empowered to take proof of wills, issue probates, and grant letters of administration for persons dying in their county and county residents dying elsewhere. The court of probates retained original jurisdiction only over the estates of decedents who were not New York State residents and New York residents who died out of State. This court also heard appeals from surrogate's courts and retained sole power to order the sale of property for payment of a decedent's debts, to decree final distribution of an estate among heirs, or to order an administrator or executor to exhibit accounts.
In 1823 (Chapter 70) the legislature abolished the court of probates and vested jurisdiction over all estates in the surrogate's courts. The chancellor now heard appeals from county surrogate's courts.
Court of Chancery. The first session of the colonial legislature in 1683 established the court of chancery (Chapter 7), consisting of the governor, his council, and any officers he wished to appoint. The governor or his designee served as chancellor. The court of chancery held exclusive jurisdiction in matters not covered by common law, such as trusteeships, mortgages, mercantile law, women's property rights, and family property settlements. Like the court of assizes, the court of chancery was the colony's court of last resort in common-law matters as well as a court of equity.
In October 1688 New York was incorporated into the newly formed Dominion of New England, a royal colony created by King James II, formerly the Duke of York. Under the act creating the dominion, equity jurisdiction previously exercised by the court of chancery was now vested in the royal governor or his appointee.
In 1691, when New York was restored to separate provincial status, the assembly established a high court of chancery comprised of the royal governor and council (Chapter 4). This court exercised exclusive equity jurisdiction in the colony but had no common-law or appellate jurisdiction. The court was abolished in 1699, reestablished in 1701, suspended in 1702, and reestablished by council ordinance in 1704. Although politically controversial because it was not established by legislative enactment and because it had no juries, the court of chancery continued operating in New York until 1783 when the British evacuated New York City.
The high court of chancery consisted of the royal governor, council, and court officers: the register, who recorded court minutes and served as secretary to the chancellor; a clerk, who handled most of the paperwork; a sergeant-at-arms, who was the enforcement officer of the court; masters, who conducted investigations and performed various administrative duties; and examiners, who examined witnesses.
Much of this court's litigation concerned commercial relations, often involving disputes over profits or money received, bills of exchange, bonds, contracts, insurance policies, and fraud. Other cases involved mortgages and real property, execution of wills or other family property agreements, collection of quit rents, vacating of land patents, requests for discovery of evidence or property on which a judgment was levied, orders for performance of terms of a contract or agreement, appointment of guardians, and injunctions of various kinds.
The first State constitution of 1777 continued the colonial court system but established a court for the trial of impeachments and correction of errors as the State's new court of last resort. A law of 1778 (Chapter 12) organized the State court of chancery (co-existing with the British high court of chancery, which retained jurisdiction in British-occupied areas of New York until 1783). The chancellor was appointed by the Council of Appointment; other court officers were the same as those in the colonial court.
A law of 1804 (Chapter 58) established the Chancery Fund, giving the register and assistant register responsibility for depositing or investing funds coming to the court through fees, performance bonds, and estate cases.
Various statutes expanded and clarified the court's jurisdiction in family relations and competency matters during the period of the first State constitution (1777-1821). The court was given authority to grant divorces, annulments, and legal separations. It was responsible for protecting the property of the mentally handicapped, mentally ill, and minors through the appointment of trustees. In 1813 the court was granted special jurisdiction over the management of the property and finances of religious institutions incorporated by the State.
The second State constitution of 1821 greatly changed the administration of equity in New York State. Pursuant to the constitution, an 1823 law (Chapter 182) established eight judicial circuits and vested circuit judges with power to hold a court of equity within their circuits. The chancellor shared equity jurisdiction with the circuit judges and also exercised appellate jurisdiction over them. He also had the sole authority to hear cases involving parties from different circuits or from out of State. The same year (Chapter 70), the court of probates was abolished. The chancellor henceforth heard most appeals from county surrogate's courts. The position of chancery clerk was abolished and its duties transferred to the register and assistant register.
The revised statutes of 1829 created a uniform statewide equity system under the direction of the chancellor. The courts of equity were abolished. The circuit judges retained their equity jurisdiction. In this capacity they were designated "vice chancellors" and acted as officials of the court of chancery subject to the authority of the chancellor. The court's jurisdiction over businesses and banks was expanded in the 1820s to include wide supervisory powers over corporations adjudged by the supreme court to be insolvent or in violation of their charters.
Supreme Court. The 1846 constitution established a new supreme court as the highest court of original jurisdiction in equity as well as law. The supreme court also heard appeals from the county courts. Eight general terms of the supreme court, one for each judicial district, were established as courts of intermediate appeal. The new court of appeals replaced the court for the trial of impeachments and correction of errors as the State's court of last resort.
The supreme court was restructured by the Judiciary Article added to the constitution in 1869. Effective in 1870, the State was divided into four departments and the eight judicial districts were distributed among the departments. Each district consisted of three justices and a presiding judge (except that New York City had five justices). The supreme court's jurisdiction remained the same, but judges could no longer sit in review of their own cases. The number of justices has been increased periodically to help deal with the growing case loads.
The fourth State constitution of 1894 changed the organization of the supreme court. The trial terms (known as circuit courts and courts of oyer and terminer) were abolished and reestablished as trial terms of the supreme court. Effective in 1896, an appellate division of the supreme court was created to hear all appeals previously heard in the supreme court general terms.
The supreme court structure and jurisdiction established by the 1894 constitution have remained essentially the same except for changes in the number of justices and judicial districts. The State is now divided into 12 judicial districts. The number of justices in each district may be increased by the legislature up to one justice for each 50,000, or fraction over 30,000, of population. Justices are elected by voters of their respective districts, but their jurisdiction extends statewide. Justices normally preside over trial terms in their own districts but may be assigned to serve elsewhere in the State. County clerks are clerks of the supreme court in their respective counties.
The supreme court appellate division continues to operate in each of the four judicial departments of the State, hearing appeals from the trial courts and the administrative agencies. The governor designates justices of each appellate division for five-year terms. Each appellate division has its own clerk. Each appellate division has the power to establish an appellate term of the supreme court to be held in and for its department or any district within the department. Currently there are appellate terms in the first and second departments.
Court of Claims
Current Functions. The court of claims is a statewide court responsible for hearing and determining claims for money damages against the State, by the State against a claimant, or between conflicting claimants.
Organizational History. The immediate predecessor to the court of claims was the Board of Claims, established in 1883 (Chapter 205) with three commissioners appointed by the governor. The Board of Claims took over all claims pending before the Canal Appraisers and the State Board of Audit. The Canal Appraisers, established in 1821 (Chapter 240) and continued by legislation of 1825 (Chapter 275) and 1836 (Chapter 287), heard claims for damages resulting from canal construction. The State Board of Audit was established in 1876 (Chapter 444) to hear all private claims against the State not falling under the jurisdiction of the Canal Appraisers. The Canal Appraisers and the State Board of Audit were abolished by the 1883 legislation establishing the Board of Claims.
In 1897 (Chapter 36), the Board of Claims was reestablished as the court of claims with the same functions, powers, and jurisdiction, and the commissioners became judges of the court. In 1911 (Chapter 856), the court again became a Board of Claims with three commissioners. Legislation of 1915 (Chapter 1) restored the court of claims with three judges appointed by the governor, who also designated a presiding judge. The governor could appoint two additional judges if the case load became too heavy. In 1939 (Chapter 860), the court of claims was continued, this time with five judges. The number of judges has increased periodically since then.