New York City Civil Court
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|New York State Unified Court System|
The New York City Civil Court is a court hearing civil cases within New York City. By volume, it is the largest civil jurisdiction court in the United States, and handles about 25% of the total filings of the entire New York state court system.
The court's jurisdiction includes civil actions for damages arising within the five counties of New York City involving claims of up to $25,000, as well as residential and commercial landlord-tenant disputes. The court also hears certain cases transferred from the New York State Supreme Court. Small claims cases (up to $5,000) also fall within the court's jurisdiction. Generally speaking, the court does not have any equitable jurisdiction, but can award money damages or possession of property only.
The Civil Court was formed in 1962 in a consolidation of predecessor courts. There is a branch of the Civil Court in each of the five boroughs of New York City. In other parts of New York State, the role of the Civil Court is performed by various local courts.
Judges of the Civil Court are elected to 10-year terms in either borough-wide or district elections (the districts are a holdover from the old New York City municipal court system).
The Civil Court districts are parts of the boroughs, and do not cross borough lines. Party leaders frequently designate candidates for the Civil Court Judgeships, who then face an open primary against others who qualify for the ballot. The party machine usually manages to elect most of its judicial candidates. Vacancies on the Civil Court are filled by mayoral appointment.
Civil Court Judges may be designated to sit in the city's Criminal Court or as Acting Justices of the New York State Supreme Court for either the civil or criminal term. In addition, Civil Court Judges can be assigned to a borough they were not elected in, but they must live in the borough or district where elected.