New York State Unified Court System


New York State Unified Court System
New York

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New York State Unified Court System

Court of Appeals
Supreme Court, Appellate Division
Supreme Court
Court of Claims
Surrogate's Court
New York City Courts (Civil, Criminal)
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The New York State Unified Court System is the official name of the judicial system of New York in the United States. Based in Albany, the New York State Judiciary is a unified state court system that functions under the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals who is its administrator-in-chief and known as "The Chief Judge of New York." Note that this terminology differs from that of other states.

Contents

Chief Judge

The chief judge supervises the seven-judge Court of Appeals.[1] In addition, the chief judge oversees the work of the state's Unified Court system, which as of 2009, had a $2.5 billion annual budget and more than 16,000 employees.[1]

Chief Administrative Judge

The Chief Administrative Judge oversees the administration and operation of the Statewide court system with a $2 billion budget, 3,600 State and locally paid Judges and over 15,000 nonjudicial employees in over 300 locations around the State.

  • A. Gail Prudenti[1], 2011-
  • Ann Pfau[2], 2007-2011
  • Jonathan Lippman, 1996-2007
  • E. Leo Milonas, 1993-1995
  • Matthew T. Crosson, 1989-1993
  • Albert M. Rosenblatt, 1987-1989
  • Joseph W. Bellacosa, 1985-1987
  • Robert J. Sise, 1983-1985
  • Herbert J. Evans, 1979-1983
  • Richard J. Bartlett, 1974-1979

Principal Courts

There are three levels of courts in the state: 1) the courts of original instance, where the initial court proceedings occur; 2) the intermediate appellate courts; and 3) the courts of final appeal. Jurisdiction differs for civil and criminal courts.

Court of final appeal

The New York State Court of Appeals is the State's highest court, and makes binding decisions over appeals from the lower courts upon transfer from a) the Appellate Division alone for civil cases; and b) (1) the Appellate Division, (2) the Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court 1st and 2nd Department, and (3) County Courts, for criminal cases.

Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court 1st and 2nd Departments

This court may review decisions made by City, Town and Village Courts, and District Courts for civil and criminal cases.

Additionally, it may review cases from NYC Civil and Criminal Courts. It may review cases from County Courts for criminal cases.

Appeals from its decisions are made directly to the highest court of the state for criminal cases, The Court of Appeals. For civil cases, appeals may be made to the Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court.

Court of final appeal for civil; an intermediate appellate court for criminal

The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division is the State's second highest court that reviews appeals from state trial court or agency decisions. Its decisions, under certain circumstances, are subject to the New York Court of Appeals review. Note that this terminology for this court is different from most other states where "supreme" means highest instead of "superior." This court is divided into four departments, one court for each department.

Intermediate appellate court for both civil and criminal cases; a court of original instance for criminal cases

The New York State County Courts is the first level of appeal from the City, Town, and Village Courts for both criminal and civil matters. After it rules, civil cases may be appealed to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court; criminal cases may be appealed directly to the highest court, the Court of appeals.

Civil and criminal cases may be initially tried here in certain cases. Rulings from those cases may be appealed to either the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court or the Appellate Terms if the Supreme Court 1st and 2nd Departments.

Courts of original instance

The court system is different at the trial court and civil court level in New York City. See New York City Criminal Court and the New York City Civil Court. The following describes the system for the rest of the state outside of New York City.

  • The primary civil court in New York is the New York State Supreme Courts. Note the difference in terminology from other states. This court hears cases beyond the authority of the lower courts such as civil matters where damages exceed the monetary limits of the lower courts’ jurisdiction; also divorce, separation and annulment proceedings, and criminal prosecutions of felonies. There are ten commercial divisions of this court which handle complex commercial matters for ten jurisdictions in the state.
  • The probate court in New York is the New York State Surrogate's Courts. They have exclusive jurisdiction over probate, and guardianship. They are located in every county of the state. They handle adoptions. Judges are elected to 10-year terms in each county outside of NYC and to 14-year terms in NYC counties.
  • The New York State Family Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving legal minors involving delinquency, status offenses, abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, adoption, guardianships and detention among others. The Family Courts also oversee cases of domestic relations involving divorce, child support, custody matters among others. Judges outside New York City are elected to 10-year terms. Those serving in NYC are appointed to 10-year terms by the Mayor.
  • The New York State Court System is divided into thirteen Judicial Districts (JDs). There are six upstate JD's, each comprising 5-11 counties. There are five JDs in New York City and two on Long Island.
  • District Courts, located in Nassau County and the five western towns of Suffolk County, arraign felonies and handle misdemeanors and lesser offenses as well as civil lawsuits involving claims of up to $15,000.
  • County Courts are located in each county outside New York City. They try felony cases, and can try misdemeanors. In actual practice most misdemeanor offenses are handled by the lower courts. County Courts can try civil matters of up to $25,000. Judges are elected to 10-year terms. In smaller counties, the County Court judge may substitute as the Family Court judge or Surrogate or both.
  • City Courts handle the arraignment of felonies. They judge misdemeanors and lesser offenses as well as civil lawsuits involving claims of up to $15,000. Some City Courts have small claims parts for the informal disposition of matters involving claims of up to $5,000 and/or housing parts to handle landlord-tenant matters and housing violations. City Court judges may be elected or appointed, depending upon the city. Full-time City Court judges serve 10-year terms. Part-time City Court judges serve six-year terms.
  • Town and Village Courts try misdemeanors and lesser offenses. They also arraign defendants accused of felonies who are destined for County Court. These courts hear civil lawsuits involving claims of up to $15,000 (including small claims cases of up to $3,000). Justices are elected to four-year terms. The majority of justices are not attorneys. Non-attorney justices must successfully complete a certification course and participate in continuing judicial education.

Other Courts

New York State Courts, Court Officer Cruiser in Times Square
  • There are a group of courts which are called "problem-solving." They include Drug Court, Domestic Violence Court, Sex Offense Court, Mental Health Court, and "Community Court" which attempts to intervene with alternative sentences in order to halt the cycle of criminal activity.

Historical Courts

See also

External links

References


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