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The trial courts vary inside and outside of the city.
Inside the City, they have two types of trial courts, The Civil Court of the City and The Criminal Court of the City. Each handles cases within their civil or criminal jurisdiction for things that occur within the city limits.
New York State Courts, outside the City, consist of numerous trial courts including District Courts, City Courts, Town and Village Justice Courts, and County Courts. Then there are courts that reside both inside and outside the city such as the Supreme, Family, Surrogate's Court and the Court of Claims. Unlike other states, the Supreme Court is a general jurisdiction trial court and not an appeals court in this state.
Since 2004, the New York court system has been migrating their records, so they are easily accessible over the internet to the general public. Their goal is to make non-private court files and documents available while also protecting confidential and highly sensitive information. The pilot project is highly regulated and reviewed for efficiency and effectiveness in reaching these goals. Additionally, the federal government has statutes that prohibit courts from including information like bank accounts, children’s names, tax IDs, social security numbers, corporate trade secrets and other personal information like home addresses in files that are open to the public. You can consult the county clerk's office for questions about what is and is not allowed in public records.
NY’s Court's website is vast, with many layers to help patrons file court cases. They have a section on the website with all the downloadable forms people need. They also have an eCourts section for e-filing or e-tracking cases. They use a unified court system and a dedicated website for accounts and logins. The e-filing system works for all court types. They also offer training and accessibility options, case information, dockets by index number, court documents, and FAQs. Users can search as a guest, but if they need to upload or file any paperwork, they must first create an account and log in before using.
You can use Infotracer to search for NY records within minutes! Gain access to thousands of cases in NY, including the areas of Kings County, Queens County, Nassau, New York County, the State of New York, and NY County. According to the NY Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), the general public is granted access to civil case files, Supreme Court cases, access to court records, court orders, state archives, criminal records, family cases such as divorces, probate issues, bankruptcies, and more.
Any private citizen can conduct public records search privately without asking permission or even having a good reason. Most all NY records will be available except things like juvenile records which are sealed by the court.
Infotracer allows you to have free instant access to New York court documents on demand. The best way to look up cases online is using a NY state court search by name to find cases from New York district courts, city courts, town and village courts, county courts, family courts and the court of claims.
In 2012, the New York courts received 3,962,433 filings. In 2016, the number of filings decreased by 15.5% and counted 3,349,318 filings and had 3,265,526 outgoing cases
|Court Type||Incoming Caseloads|
Domestic relations caseload of New York at year end of 2016 has decreased by 11.9% compared to the last 5 years, in 2012 the number of incoming cases have been 647,475 but are higher than in 2015.
|Year||Domestic Relations Caseload||Total Statewide Caseload|
The number of criminal cases in New York courts counts to 88,819, with 88,819 felony cases.
|Year||Criminal Caseload||Misdemeanor Caseload||Felony Caseload|
NY City has two types of limited jurisdiction trial courts, and they are The Civil Court of the City which is responsible for civil matters up to $25,000 and small claims cases of up to $5,000 and some landlord/tenant disputes. Then they have The Criminal Court of the City which takes care of misdemeanors (punishable by a year or less in jail or a fine) and other petty criminal offenses. This court also handles preliminary criminal hearings for more serious crimes like felonies.
The State's District Courts are located in the five western towns of Suffolk County and Nassau County. This limited jurisdiction court handles arraignments for people accused of felonies and misdemeanors along with other small crimes like traffic tickets and local ordinance violations. District Courts also handle some civil suits with amounts up to $15,000 and small claims of up to $5,000. These courts only handle issues with penalties of a term of imprisonment of no more than one year. The District Courts also resolve landlord/tenant issues (evictions) and commercial small claims.
NY City Courts are similar to District Courts and handle both criminal and civil matters. They have criminal jurisdiction over misdemeanors and small, petty offenses (that carry a term of imprisonment of no more than one year) along with civil lawsuits of no more than $15,000 and small claims cases of $5,000 or less. They can also handle arraignments for individuals accused of felonies and other serious offenses. These courts resolve landlord/tenant disputes as well. NY has City Courts in all the cities of the state. They are listed on the website so people can easily find theirs.
New York’s Town and Village Courts are known as the Justice Courts for the state. Most court cases originate in Justice Court. There are 1300 Justice Court locations around the state, and each one is locally-funded. The only exception is there is not one in the Empire State. Justice Courts have jurisdiction over civil and criminal offenses. They cover traffic violations, parking tickets, small claims up to $3,000, evictions and civil suits. They also handle tort cases, contract disputes, real property cases of up to $3,000, preliminary hearings, and some misdemeanor crimes.
County Courts in the state are distributed in every county outside of the City. These courts are limited jurisdiction courts authorized to prosecute all criminal offenses committed within the county. They hear felony cases (that carries a punishment of more than one year in prison) along with civil suits of $25,000 or less. These courts act as an appellate court for City Courts and Town and Village Courts. They have exclusive jurisdiction over felony matters although they share jurisdiction with City Courts and Justice Courts in regard to misdemeanors and other minor offenses.
In many states, this court is the highest court in the state and an appellate court. In this state, however, this court is the highest trial court (outside of New York City) with general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases. Typically, they hear cases that fall outside the jurisdiction of other courts. The types of cases they have exclusive jurisdiction over are domestic relations cases including divorce, annulment, child custody, and other related matters. They also handle equity suits, mortgage foreclosures, and injunctions. Along with those, they handle tort cases, real property cases, felonies and misdemeanors.
New York’s Family Court, as the name indicates, has authority over family-related cases and the protection of children. They cannot, however, grant divorces, that needs to be handled at the Supreme Court level. However, the types of cases most often seen in these courts are juvenile delinquency, adoption, foster care approvals and reviews, guardianship, children in need of services, domestic violence, child protective services, child custody, termination of parental rights, child abuse, and neglect and visitation and support. These courts are located in counties throughout the state.
The NY Surrogate’s Court acts as a probate court for the state. They operate outside the New York City limits in counties all over the state. They sometimes use juries, and sometimes a judge will oversee the case. These courts have jurisdiction over cases involving adoption, wills, estates, guardianships, conservatorships, and other probate-related issues. Their main goal is to handle the affairs of decedents. The NYCOURTS.GOV website has a listing of each county in the state, and users can click each one to find the closest Surrogate’s Court in their area.
NY also has a Court of Claims to exclusively handle all civil lawsuits against the NY state or state agencies such as the “New York State Thruway Authority, the NY City University, the Olympic Regional Development Authority, the Roswell Park Cancer Institute Corporation and the NY State Power Authority (claims for the appropriation of real property only).” This court does not have any jurisdiction over cities, towns, or any other type of defendant. It has a singular purpose of handling civil lawsuits against the state or its entities.
This Empire State also has a few problem-solving courts to deal with specific issues and areas of special interest. Being the fourth largest state in the nation, NY courts serve about 19,750,000 people. Therefore, they have created specialty courts like Drug Treatment Court, Human Trafficking Court, Mental Health Court, Sex Offenders Court, and Veterans Courts to help with treatment, rehabilitation and guidance to keep offenders on a path of recovery rather than recidivism. Many of these courts use case management, healthcare professionals, and other consultants to help with the process and flow of cases.