NYS Courts Jurisdiction/ Structure
NYS court structure chart
(excerpted from NYS Courts Intro Guide)
For info Outside NYC see NYS Courts Intro Guide
- Cases begin in trial courts
- Most cases are decided at trial-court level but parties sometimes appeal the case in a higher court.
- Most appeals first reviewed in intermediate appellate courts.
- Highest NYS court is the Court of appeals.
NYC Trial Courts
Civil Court of the City of New York handles:
- claims for damages up to $25,000
- small claims for cases involving amounts up to $5,000
- housing for landlord-tenant matters.
Criminal Court of the City of New York handles:
- misdemeanors (crimes punishable by fine or imprisonment of up to one year) and lesser offenses.
- Criminal Court judges also conduct arraignments (initial court appearances following arrest) and preliminary hearings for felonies (crimes punishable by imprisonment of more than one year).
See also Criminal Justice System How it Works (from Manhattan DA)
The Supreme Court generally hears cases such as civil matters involving higher dollar amounts; divorce, separation and annulment proceedings; and criminal prosecutions of felonies.
Family Court hears matters involving children and families.
The Surrogate’s Court hears cases relating to the deceased.
The Court of Claims has exclusive authority over lawsuits seeking money damages against the State of New Yo
Intermediate Appellate Courts
Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court in the first and Second departments hear appeals of decisions in cases starting in the New York City Civil and Criminal Courts.
In the Second Department, the Appellate Terms also hear appeals of decisions in cases that started in the District, City or Town and Village Courts.
The First Judicial Department includes districts 1 and 12; the Second Judicial Department, districts 2, 9, 10, 11 and 13.
1st Judicial District (Manhattan)
2nd Judicial District (Brooklyn)
11th Judicial District (Queens)
12th Judicial District (Bronx)
13th Judicial District (Staten Island)
There are four appellate divisions of the Supreme Court, one in each judicial department.* The Appellate Divisions hear civil and criminal appeals from the trial courts as well as civil appeals from the Appellate Terms and County Courts.
The Court of Appeals
New York’s highest court, hears civil and criminal appeals from the state’s intermediate appellate courts, and in some instances from the trial courts
Also hears appeals of State Commission on Judicial Conduct decisions and makes rules governing the admission of attorneys to the New York State bar.
For more information see Court Records Research Guide