New York State Department of Law Executive Office Subject Files

Held by the New York State Archives

Overview of the Records


New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

These records, from a variety of senior staff members, reflect the interests and activities of the Attorney General's Office. Included are files related to audits, litigation, opinions, engagements, and interests of the office on such topics are housing discrimination, civil rights, Indian land claims, sex discrimination, child abuse, banking, crime, and business.
715 cubic feet
Inclusive Dates:
Series Number:


Organized into six subseries: Subseries 1, Records of First Assistant Attorneys General, 1962-1982, 109 cu. ft.; Subseries 2, Records of the Counsel to the Attorney General, 1984-1988, 52 cu. ft.; Subseries 3, Records of the Director of Policy and Communications, 1982-1993, 18 cu. ft.; Subseries 4, Records of the Executive Assistants to the Attorney General, 1970-1990, 30 cu. ft.; Subseries 5, Records of the Deputy First Assistant Attorneys General, 1979-1986, 19 cu. ft.; and Subseries 6, Records of the Special Assistant to the Attorney General, 1979-1984, 14 cu. ft.

18571-95A, 18571-97, 18571-97A, 18571-98, 18571-02, 18571-05, 18571-07, 18571-10, 18571-11A:Alphabetical by subject.

18571-99:Roughly by subject.

18571-02:Alphabetical by subject; furlough applications alphabetical by last name.

18571-10A, 18571-12, 18571-12A:Uncertain arrangement.

18571-13A: Alphabetical by name of state agency.

Administrative History

18571-99: The Commission for the Review of the Child Protective System in New York State was established by Governor Pataki via Executive Order #23 (January 10, 1996) to conduct a comprehensive examination and review of the state laws and regulations concerning child abuse, the child protective system and relevant confidentiality laws.

Specifically, the commission was to review and make recommendations regarding the release of child protection information and the public's right to know; the selection, training and retention of child protective services staff; the reporting and paperwork requirements to ensure that caseworkers are in the field as much as possible; the retention of unfounded child abuse allegations and information; and the statutory and policy criteria by which the child abuse hotline screens allegations of child abuse or neglect. Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco was designated chair of the commission.

Scope and Content Note

This series contains correspondence, memoranda, notes, drafts of speeches, clippings, publications, and other materials created by executive office staff of the Department of Law, including the counsel to the attorney general, executive assistant to the attorney general, special assistant to the attorney general, and the director of policy and communications, among others. The executive office supports the attorney general, who is the state's chief legal officer. As such, the staff acts with the attorney general to protect the public interest and uphold the constitutionality of acts of the legislature and the law, and it acts in proceedings for and against the state and its departments.

The series contains documentation relating to cases dealing with topics such as environmental issues, consumer protection, anti-trust litigation, civil rights, and organized crime investigations and task force activities. The series consists of the records of members of the executive office staff who served during the tenure of attorneys general Louis J. Lefkowitz (1957-1978), Robert Abrams (1979-1993), and G. Oliver Koppell (1993-1994). The bulk of the series is organized into six subseries as described below.

Subseries 1, Records of First Assistant Attorney General, 1962-1982, 109 cubic feet. The subseries contains records of Louis J. Lefkowitz's First Assistant Attorney General Samuel A. Hirshowitz (ca. 1962-1977). The subseries also contains the records of two of Robert Abrams' first assistant attorneys general: Dennis Allee (1981-1982); and Jorge L. Batista (1979-1980). Allee's files document his activities such as directing other members of the executive staff and coordinating local offices, and his work relating to such concerns of the attorney general's office as energy prices, casino gambling, civil rights, anti-trust, consumer protection, medicaid fraud, and organized crime. The files contain memos, briefs, publications, reports, legal correspondence, reactions to legislative proposals, speeches, clippings, and other material. Most of the Batista material relates to activities prior to his appointment as assistant attorney general including those related to the Board of Regents and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. (ca. 1974-1978).

Subseries 2, Records of the Counsel to the Attorney General, 1984-1988, 52 cubic feet. Robert Abrams' counsel, Richard Rifkin (1984-1993), was formerly deputy first assistant attorney general (see subseries 5). The records in this subseries reflect the counsel's activities related to such issues and activities as litigation of violations of state contracts, environmental protection, law suits brought against the state, gambling, bias crime, organized crime, conflicts of interest, and insanity defense reform. The files contain legal correspondence, case files, proposals to the legislature, background files, transcripts of testimony and interrogation, dispositions, and opinions as well as other material.

Subseries 3, Records of the Director of Policy and Communications (formerly the Office of Press Secretary), 1982-1993, 18 cubic feet. Included in this subseries are records of Robert Abrams' speech writer William Hartung (1987-1993), and Betty Yates (1982-1984), another member of the Press Office staff. The Hartung files include subject files, drafts of speeches, speeches, background information, press releases, and press clippings. The Yates records include similar material as well as a large number of mailing lists. These records are related to such issues as consumer fraud, economic issues, anti-trust investigations, consumer drugs, hazardous products, monopolies, utility rates, sales tax fraud, women's rights, sports betting, and ethics in government.

Subseries 4, Records of the Executive Assistants to the Attorney General, 1970-1990, 30 cubic feet. Included in this subseries are the records of eight executive assistants to the attorney general, five of whom served under Robert Abrams. The John Burke (1982-1987) records include budget material; department reorganization study; subject files; speeches and correspondence; opinions, briefs, and arguments on such topics as public education, crime victims, ethics, election law, and tax policy.

The records of Laura Ross (1987-1990) consist mostly of telephone bills, memorandums concerning telephone use and billing, and correspondence related to freedom of information and telephone use. The records also contain correspondence from members of the public requesting assistance from the attorney general's office, opinions, press clippings, copies of dispositions, and memoranda of law.

The records of Ethan M. Geto (1979-1980) consist mostly of subject files related to such issues as ethics, consumer fraud, gambling, housing, civil rights, and charities. The files also contain clippings and correspondence addressed to the attorney general with photocopied replies in some cases. Also present are a small number of the attorney general's daily schedules.

The records of Bruce M. Gilbert (1977-1981) contain legal case files for cases brought by "The People of New York" against various defendants in the Supreme Court of New York. These files consist of judgments, orders, consents, complaints, summonses, motions, indictments, and affidavits. Also contained in the records are materials dealing with a Law Department reorganization study, reports, and statements explaining the policies and jurisdictions of the attorney general's office.

The records of Edward Perlmutter (1983-1985) document his administrative work and contain information related to topics such as staff training, budgets, memoranda, information on staff salaries, salary plans and raises, reports, office space, travel policy, information on performance evaluation standards, and civil service procedures.

Also included in this subseries are records of three individuals who served as executive staff to Louis Lefkowitz. The records of Lee R. Miller (1974-1977) consist primarily of litigation case files including memos of law, briefs, summonses, court orders, reports, and background information. The cases involve issues such as fradulent apartment referral service agencies and other areas of consumer protection. Some travel vouchers are also included.

The records of Joseph L. Fristachi (1971, 1977-1978) contain case files and bill files on pending legislation and cases concerning the attorney general's office in such areas as consumer protection, returnable beverage containers, gambling, insurance, home ownership, civil rights, women's rights, and health issues. Also included in the records are many files containing records of lobbyists' registrations and filing fees.

The records of Charles J. Hynes (1970-1978) consist mostly of audit reports of residential health care facilities and information regarding medicaid fraud.

Subseries 5, Records of the Deputy First Assistant Attorneys General, 1979-1986, 19 cubic feet. The subseries consists of records of Robert Abrams' deputy first assistant attorneys general. The records of Richard Rifkin (1979-1986) consist of case files related to a wide range of issues taken up by the attorney general's office. Many of the case files relate to contracts made with the state and claims made against the state. The records also include material related to the administration of the excecutive office staff.

The records of Peter L. Yellin (ca. 1984) contain reports, memoranda, memoranda of understanding with other agencies, annual reports of various agencies, minutes of meetings with regional units, budget reports, and other material mostly related to the staff of the attorney general's office concerned with medicaid fraud.

Subseries 6, Records of the Special Assistant to the Attorney General, 1979-1984, 14 cubic feet. This subseries consists of records of Robert Abrams' special assistants. The title special assistant was later changed to executive assistant to the attorney general (see subseries 4).

The records of John Burke (1979-1984) document his administrative role in the attorney general's executive staff. The records contain such material as case load statistics, reports and evaluations of various units of the attorney general's office, reports on library services to the attorney general's office, retirement information, information on student interns, legal training, transition and reorganization plans, recruitment strategies, annual reports of various agencies, and budget requests from the Department of Law to the Division of the Budget.

The records of James Conroy (1981-1983) consist mostly of correspondence to the attorney general from private citizens, legislators on behalf of constituents, and representatives of other organizations which Conroy apparently answered for the attorney general. Also included are a small amount of subject material, memorandums, and clippings.

18571-94A: This accretion consists of subject files created by attorney general executive office staff member James Conroy, special assistant to the attorney general. The files relate to such topics as civil rights, environmental protection, political meetings, medicaid fraud, and Tawana Brawley. Material contained in the files includes speeches, memos, clippings, publications, material related to an internal control audit of the Law Department, and correspondence with public officials and private citizens.

18571-95: This accretion consists of subject and correspondence files created by attorney general executive office staff member Timothy Gilles, director of policy and communication. Records relate to such topics as civil rights, crime prevention, gambling, and environmental protection.

18571-95A: This accretion contains files kept by Ms. Shelley Mayer, who was Executive Assistant to Attorney General G. Oliver Koppell. Included are correspondence, memoranda, clippings, newsletters, testimony, reports, and media releases, some dating back to the Abrams administration. Files cover a very wide range of subjects and also include information on various task forces (sex discrimination, violence prevention); reports on elder and women's issues, domestic violence, public health, and justice system reform; and copies of some "Warning of the Week" releases in which the attorney general informed consumers of possible fraud and other issues of importance.

18571-97: This accretion consists of subject files of Executive Assistant Shelley Mayer of the Civil Rights Bureau. Files relate to a variety of civil rights issues including abortion; fetal protection policies; bias crime; violence against women; gun control; jury selection; fair housing policies; school violence; and worker protection. Record types include bill files, correspondence, meeting notes, and newspaper clippings.

18571-97A: This accretion consists of the subject files of Deputy First Assistant Attorneys General Patricia Martinelli and James McSparron. The files cover a wide variety of topics including 1990-1991 budget cutbacks, prisoner litigation, and the Taylor Law. In addition, the files document the administration of the department's various upstate regional offices.

18571-97B: This accretion consists of subject files of Executive Assistant Shelley Mayer of the Civil Rights Bureau. Files relate to discriminatory practices of private clubs against women and minorities. Record types include bill files, correspondence, meeting notes, and newspaper clippings.

18571-98: This accretion consists primarily of the office files of Richard Rifkin, who was Attorney General Robert Abrams' counsel and former deputy first assistant attorney general. Files include correspondence, memos, press clippings and administrative subject files. They relate to a number of issues, including court consolidation, merit selection of judges, reapportionment, and the New York City Justice System Special Prosecutor.

18571-99: This accretion consists of the subject files of Special Counsel Heather Wollowitz dating from 1995-1998. Files include memoranda, reports, correspondence, public hearing transcripts, and press clippings, arranged roughly by subject and primarily relating to her work with the Commission for the Review of the Child Protective System in New York State.

18571-02: This accretion consists of the subject files of Susan Marie Tatro, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Division of State Counsel - Albany under Attorney General Dennis Vacco. The files pertain to a wide variety of topics including: the Equal Access to Justice Act; certification of expert witnesses under Section 73, subdivision 8-a of the Public Officers Law; contracts with outside counsel; the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution; legal issues involving state agencies; and evaluation and defense of damages in personal injury and wrongful death claims.

The files also include applications for unescorted furlough orders submitted by the Office of Mental Health on behalf of criminal defendants committed to the custody of the State Commissioner of Mental Health for confinement in secure facilities. The furlough applications were submitted to the Office of the Attorney General and reviewed in accordance with Section 330.20 of the Criminal Procedure Law. CPL Section 330.20 and 14NYCRR Part 541 detail procedures to be followed when defendants are found not criminally responsible because of mental disease or defect. Furlough application files include correspondence, memoranda, legal documents, medical and legal histories, and psychiatric evaluations.

18571-02A: This accretion contains additional subject files compiled by Susan Marie Tatro, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, Division of State Counsel - Albany under Attorney General Dennis Vacco. Most of the files pertain to settlement approvals in civil cases brought against the State of New York, State agencies, or State employees. Files include correspondence and memoranda recommending and granting approval for settlement authority in specific monetary and/or non-monetary terms. Narrative descriptions of the circumstances in each case and supporting documentation such as testimony, incident reports, and medical examinations are also included. A small portion of the accretion consists of outside counsel contracts.

18571-03: This accretion consists of the subject files of Donald P. Berens, Jr., Deputy Attorney General, Division of State Counsel - Albany under Attorney General Dennis Vacco. A number of files pertain to the administration of various bureaus within the Department of Law as well as to department policies, procedures, and financial administration. Files pertaining to a wide variety of specific legal issues and cases are also included. These include, but are not limited to: legal action taken by the Attorney General's Office against Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano pursuant to New York State's Son of Sam Law; the case of State of New Jersey v. State of New York regarding sovereignty over Ellis Island; cases involving the application of Public Officers Law, Section17; cases pertaining to the constitutionality of New York State's Sex Offender Registration Act (Megan's Law);

The case of Campaign for Fiscal Equality v. State of New York, which centered on the constitutionality of the State's public school financing scheme; land claims involving the Seneca, Oneida, and Cayuga Indian Nations of New York as well as the Canadian St. Regis Band of Mohawk Indians; the issue of casino gambling operations conducted by the Oneida Indian Nation of New York; furlough applications for persons retained pursuant to Section 330.20 of the Criminal Procedure Law; claims filed against New York State by Frontier Insurance Company for reimbursement following medical malpractice suits filed against faculty members of the SUNY College of Medicine; and issues surrounding the constitutionality of the Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act of 1996.

18571-05: This accretion consists of subject and correspondence files of Assistant Attorney General and Solicitor General Shirley Adelson Siegel. The files include material from the years 1957 through 1982 and document Ms. Sigel's involvement with housing and job discrimination, fair employment practices, and other civil rights-related issues.

18571-07, 18571-10: These accretions consist of correspondence, memoranda, publications, and press releases, generated by members of the Executive Office of the Department of Law during Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's administration (1999-2006). The records document such issues as: Medicaid fraud, criminal prosecution, the Organized Crime Task Force, campaign finance reform, state anti-trust laws, and the case NAACP v. American Arms.

Included are the subject files for First Assistant Attorneys General (now known as Deputy Attorneys General) Michelle Hirshman, Kermit Brooks, Peter Pope, and Dietrich Snell; Counsel to the Attorney General David Nocenti; Director of Policy Debra Cohn, and Director of Communications Darren Dopp; and Deputy First Assistants to the Attorney General (now known as Assistant Deputies) Francine James, Terryl Brown, Karen Lupuloff, Christopher Walsh, Rachel Kretser, Patricia Martinelli, and Susan Watson.

18571-11: This accretion consists of the subject files of Jerry H. Goldfeder, Special Counsel to Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Many of the files, however, contain records dating from the tenure of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

18571-11A: This accretion consists of records created by the office of Deputy Attorney General Richard Rifkin. Types of records include correspondence, budget files, copies of cases and related records, and subject files pertaining to various matters.

18571-12A: This accretion consists of files created by the office of Elizabeth Glaser, General Special Counsel.

18571-12B: These records are originally from accretion 18571-07, covering Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's tenure, and are records determined to have no restrictions for disclosure. Some records are photocopies containing redactions. Records determined to be restricted for these folders remain in 18571-07.

18571-12C: This accretion consists of audio visual material (available on 1 CD, 3 VHS tapes, and 76 audio cassettes) collected or created by the Office of the Attorney General's press office and training unit and various media sources including Cablevision, Capitol Connection, CNBC, and local television stations. The records include recordings of press conferences and press statements, public service announcements (PSAs), training materials, video conferences (meetings), and reference materials.

There is some indication that several of the video tapes may have been owned by Marty Mack, who was Executive Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs during Spitzer's tenure as attorney general.

Audio cassette tapes in this accretion appear to have originated in the Attorney General's press office and were utilized for its Newsline service which provided audio clips of the Attorney General to the press making statements about recent cases and advisories to the public on subjects such as healthcare and telemarketing scams. Typically the tapes are broken down into pairs. The "raw" tape is generally either an unedited recording of Attorney General Spitzer reading a blurb from a script - occasionally ad-libbing takes - or a recording of a press conference from which audio clips will be taken. The "package" tape is a cleaned up recording of the press office representative introducing the audio clips with the date, subject matter, and length of the clip, followed by the audio clip, and frequently a standardized signoff by the press office representative.

Some of the subjects addressed in these tapes include advocacy for legislation, most notably Kendra's law, which is legislation that provides for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) for certain people with mental illness who, in view of their treatment history and present circumstances, are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision; as well as air pollution, Internet safety, and consumer fraud.

The single CD is an audio recording of a commercial for tire safety that was jointly sponsored by the Attorney General's office and the Consumer Protection Board.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

18571-02: Access to furlough applications restricted to protect personal privacy.

18571-07, 18571-09, 18571-10, 18571-10A, 18571-10B, 18571-11, 18571-11A, 18571-12, 18571-12A, 18571-12C, 18571-13, 18571-13A: Designated records may contain information that is exempt from disclosure pursuant to state or federal statute or common law. Requests for access to designated records are reviewed by staff of the State Archives and the Office of the Attorney General (Dept. of Law). In certain circumstances, designated records or portions of records may be withheld.

Use Restrictions

18571-12C: Records in this accretion may be protected by U.S. Copyright. Consult with archivist to obtain more information.

Related Information

Related Materials

Series 18564 Attorney General subject files, contains related records.

Other finding aids

18571-94, 18571-94A, 18571-95A, 18571-97, 18571-97A, 18571-98, 18571-02, 18571-02A, 18571-05, 18571-07, 18571-09, 18571-09A, 18571-10A, 18571-12A, 18571-13A: Container list.

18571-94, 18571-97, 18571-97A: Partial folder lists are available for subseries 1 and 4 only.

18571-95, 18571-97, 18571-97A, 18571-97B, 18571-99, 18571-10, 18571-10B, 18571-11, 18571-11A, 18571-12, 18571-12B: Folder list.

18571-12C: Item list.

Custodial History

18571-97: This accretion should have comprised boxes 14, 17, and 18 of series 18571-95A but were segregated from the accession and transferred at a later date.

18571-97B: This accretion should have comprised box 19 of accession 18571-95A but was segregated from the accession and transferred at a later date.

Acquistion Information

18571-11, 18571-12C, 18571-13, 18571-13A: These accretions were transferred to the State Archives under disposition number 21884.

Use Restrictions

18571-12C: Records in this accretion may be protected by U.S. Copyright. Consult with archivist to obtain more information.

Access Terms

Personal Name(s):
Geographic Name(s):

Women's rights--New York (State)

Hazardous wastes--Law and legislation--New York (State)

Female offenders

Sales tax--New York (State)

Insurance--New York (State)

Home ownership--New York (State)

Antitrust law--New York (State)

Jury selection--New York (State)

Mentally ill--Commitment and detention--New York (State)

Insanity (Law)--New York (State)

Internet--Safety measures

Campaign funds--New York (State)

Attorneys general--New York (State)

Public health--New York (State)

Environmental protection--New York (State)

Organized crime--New York (State)

Housing--New York (State)

Hate crimes--New York (State)

Child welfare--New York (State)

Taxation--New York (State)

Crime--New York (State)

School violence--New York (State)

Fraud investigation--New York (State)

Medicaid fraud--New York (State)

Public utilities--Rates--New York (State)

Discrimination in housing--New York (State)

Evidence, Expert--New York (State)

Psychiatric hospital patients--New York (State)

Air--Pollution--New York (State)

Election law--New York (State)

Product safety

Political ethics--New York (State)

Women--Crimes against

Conflict of interests--New York (State)

Civil procedure--New York (State)

Beverage containers--Recycling--Law and legislation--New York (State)

Child abuse

Country clubs--Law and legislation--New York (State)

Clubs--Law and legislation--New York (State)

Civil rights--New York (State)

Public contracts--New York (State)

Gambling--New York (State)

Women--Legal status, laws, etc.

Victims of crimes--New York (State)

Abortion--Law and legislation--New York (State)

Gun control--New York (State)

Gay rights--New York (State)

Education--New York (State)

Abused women--New York (State)

Children--Legal status, laws, etc.

Charities--New York (State)

Sports betting--New York (State)

Freedom of association--New York (State)

Consumer protection

Drugs--New York (State)