Judiciary of New York
|This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
|New York State Unified Court System|
The New York State Unified Court System is the official name of the judiciary 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.
The Judiciary of New York is a unified state court system that functions under the Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals who is the ex officio Chief Judge of New York. The Chief Judge supervises the seven-judge Court of Appeals. 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.
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.
The Judicial Conference of the State of New York is responsible for surveying current practice in the administration of the State's courts, compiling statistics, and suggesting legislation
List of Chief Administrative Judges 
- A. Gail Prudenti, 2011-
- Ann Pfau, 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 talk:Minecraft boy13wtf
There are three levels of courts in the state:
- the courts of final appeal;
- the intermediate appellate courts; and
- the courts of original instance, where the initial court proceedings occur.
Jurisdiction differs for civil and criminal courts.
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.
Court of Appeals 
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 Division of the Supreme Court 
The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division is the State's second highest court that reviews appeals from state trial court or agency decisions. It is the court of final appeal for civil cases and an intermediate appellate court for criminal cases. 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. This court is also responsible for admission of new lawyers to the state's bar—a duty which in almost all other states is carried out by the jurisdiction's highest court.
Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court 
The 1st and 2nd Departments of the Appellate Terms of the Supreme 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.
County Courts 
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. It is the intermediate appellate court for both civil and criminal cases and a court of original instance for criminal cases. 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.
Superior Courts 
- The primary civil court in New York is the New York State Supreme Courts. Note the difference in terminology from other states. This superior court hears cases beyond the authority of the local courts such as civil matters where damages exceed the monetary limits of the local courts’ jurisdiction; also divorce, separation and annulment proceedings, name changes, 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.
- County Courts are superior courts 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 local 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.
- The court system is different at the local court level in New York City. The New York City Criminal Court and the New York City Civil Court are local courts in the 5 boroughs of New York City.
- District Courts are the local criminal and civil courts in Nassau County and the five western towns of Suffolk County, arraign felonies and try misdemeanors and lesser offenses, as well as civil lawsuits involving claims of up to $15,000, Small Claims and Small Commercial Claims up to $5000, and landlord-tenant actions. District Court Judges are elected to 6 year terms.
- City Courts handle the arraignment of felonies. They try 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 Justice Courts try misdemeanors and lesser offenses. They also arraign defendants accused of felonies. These courts may hear civil lawsuits involving claims of up to $3,000 (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. The Town and Village Justice Courts are locally funded, as opposed to the state-funded City and District courts.
- The New York Court of Claims is the venue for litigation against the State of New York itself.
- 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. These problem-solving courts are usually parts of the local court or County or Supreme Court.
New York State Court Officers are law enforcement officers who provide police services to the New York State Unified Court System (e.g. bailiffs), and enforce state and city laws at all facilities operated by the New York State Unified Court System.
Historical Courts 
- New York Court for the Trial of Impeachments
- New York Court of Chancery
- New York State Circuit Courts
- New York Court of Common Pleas
- Galie, Peter J. and Bopst, Christopher, The New York State Constitution (2nd ed. 2012)
- Lincoln, Charles Z., The Constitutional History of New York from the Beginning of the Colonial Period to the Year 1905 (1906)
- State of New York, Department of State, New York Constitution 
- The Historical Society of the Courts of the State of New York 
See also