The king of New York practice.

Author:Connors, Patrick M.
Position:David D. Siegel - Testimonial

In rare instances, a person becomes such a presence in his or her field of discipline that serious consideration of a matter within that realm cannot be undertaken without reference to that person's body of work. For example, it is impossible to exclude the works of Darwin in any comprehensive discussion of evolution. No rendering of the history of baseball would be complete without mention of Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays. A colloquium on American literature would seem incomplete and shallow without some portion of the meeting devoted to Mark Twain.

Over almost five decades, Professor David D. Siegel has achieved a similar status in his field of concentration, New York Practice, a subject synonymous with his name. It is virtually impossible to author a meaningful piece on this fascinating subject without reference to Professor Siegel's voluminous scholarship. Thousands of judicial opinions grappling with the broad array of thorny and weighty issues that arise under the umbrella of civil procedure make the point. These decisions, and the briefs that preceded them, cite to and rely heavily upon Professor Siegel's writings.

Professor Siegel has certainly occupied the field of New York Practice. The field has also occupied him. Through his tireless, thorough, and precise work ethic, he has constructed an amazing number of monuments in the skyline of New York civil procedure. He is the author of the leading treatise in the field, New York Practice, (1) now in its fourth edition and with over 100,000 copies in circulation. Often referred to as "The Bible" by the New York bench and bar, this text is truly a landmark work in the field of civil procedure, being equally accessible and informative to judges, lawyers, and law students.

Since 1977, he has been the sole author of the New York State Law Digest, one of the most widely read publications in New York legal circles. During the last thirty-two years, he has produced 375 consecutive monthly issues of the Digest. (2) This popular publication, which now contains four single-spaced pages analyzing Court of Appeals opinions, could not sufficiently house the reflections and commentary of such an active mind. Therefore, in 1993, Professor Siegel began constructing what would become another skyscraper in the panorama of New York law, Siegel's Practice Review, a monthly analysis of procedural developments in the New York courts. (3) Over fifteen years and 200 installments later, the Practice Review is must reading for judges and litigators in New York State courts, as well as CPLR junkies of all kinds, and is relied upon regularly by the bench and bar in making procedural law within the state. (4)

The foundation for much of the above work began as far back as 1962, when Professor Siegel joined a small group of authors to publish the original set of McKinney's Consolidated Laws Practice Commentaries. Professor Siegel authored the original Practice Commentaries for CPLR Article 50 ("Judgments Generally"), CPLR Article 51 ("Enforcement of Judgments and Orders Generally"), and CPLR Article 52 ("Enforcement of Money Judgments"). (5) After the CPLR was enacted in 1963, the courts quickly began to rely upon these writings in resolving procedural issues during the statute's infancy. (6)

Over the last forty-six years, Professor Siegel has assumed the authorship of the Practice Commentaries for several additional articles including CPLR Article 31 ("Disclosure"), (7) Article 32 ("Accelerated Judgment"), (8) and Articles 55 through 57 ("Appeals Generally," "Appeals to the Court of Appeals," and "Appeals to the Appellate Division"). (9) The Practice Commentaries are enormously insightful and provide some of the most detailed analyses of procedure available, positing and accurately forecasting numerous issues for the courts and litigants to consider. This wealth of inspection and observation demonstrate that, in the world of procedure, Professor Siegel's thinking starts where most of ours stops. It is no surprise that the Practice Commentaries are still relied upon by the bench and bar with great frequency even well into the twenty-first century. (10) As Professor Siegel has frequently observed, New York Practice is a subject that never rests.

Respecting the full landscape of procedure, Professor Siegel has always recognized that justice in New York's vast Unified Court System is often administered in tribunals other than the Supreme Court, the Appellate Division and the Court of Appeals, and has devoted a substantial portion of his attention to procedure in these alternative venues. As he accurately notes in Chapter 21 of New York Practice, "[t]he 'Small Claims Court' may be the only contact many people will ever have with the court system." (11) Professor Siegel not only authors the Practice Commentaries for the four lower court acts--the New York City Civil Court Act, (12) the Uniform Justice Court Act, (13) the Uniform City Court Act, (14) and the Uniform District Court Act (15)--but also authored the acts themselves...

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