New York Court System

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The New York court system pertains to the judicial branch of the government and its main actions are related to law interpretation. In the state of New York, there are both federal and state courts, and they all have different jurisdictions. In other words, they are allowed to hear cases that imply different matters, focusing on federal versus state laws.

The New York State court system is divided into courts of appeals and trial courts, but there is also a Court of Claims and problem-solving courts (drug treatment, integrated domestic violence, domestic violence, mental health, and sex offense courts). There are 57 New York county courts, one for each NY county. These courts are allowed to hear all civil and criminal cases, and they can also hear small claims appeals and civil cases that are $25,000 or less. At the same time, they are responsible for handling appeals of misdemeanor cases.

The civil court structure involves the existence of the Court of Appellants, the Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court, and the Intermediate Appellate Courts, as well as the Courts of Original Instance. The Intermediate Appellate Courts feature County Courts and they are related to the Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court 1st and 2nd departments. The Courts of Original Instance consists of Supreme Courts, County Courts, Surrogate's Courts, Family Courts, Court of Claims, as well as District Courts, NYC Civil Courts, City Courts, Town Courts and Village Courts. The same structure can be seen in the case of criminal courts.

The Court of Appeals is New York's highest court and it is comprised of a chief judge and six associate judges, each of them is appointed to a 14-year term. The highest appellate court in the State of NY was created in order to properly implement the state's law principles and to improve the overall context of particular lawsuit decisions. The Court of Appeals concentrates on general issues of the law, and there is no jurisdictional limitation concerning the money stake in a specific case, nor the status of the parties.

In order for an appeal to be initiated, the individual who is appealing the respective case has to get a writ of certiorari. The appellate court also needs to order the trial court to turn the case over to them. A New York appeals court has to hear a string argument stating that a legal error has been made. That mistake might have disrupted the normal course of the hearing and it might have led to a different outcome of the case. Illegal evidence that was brought in the court of law and accepted by a sitting judge is one example of such an error that can be mentioned here.

Appeal cases that need to be ruled by appellate courts need to go to the New York Supreme Court. This particular court is responsible for the hearing of death penalty appeals that originate from trial courts. Its original jurisdiction for cases that imply the discipline of judges or lawyers is highly popular. The Appellate Division is composed of four departments. The first department is seated in Manhattan and it covers Bronx County and the Manhattan area, or New York County. The second department is seated in Brooklyn and it is responsible for Queens County, Brooklyn or Kings County, Staten Island or Richmond County, Long Island or Nassau County and Suffolk County, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Westchester and Rockland Counties. The third department is seated in Albany and it includes the cities of Albany, Saratoga, Troy, Schenectady, Binghamton and Saratoga Springs. The fourth and last department is seated in Rochester and it covers the remainder of the state, including Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester.

Also, the Commercial Division is busy handling complex commercial cases, which are part of the Supreme Court of New York State. As for the New York State Court of Claims, this is considered to be the exclusive forum for civil litigation seeking damages against the State of New York. It also involves actions related to other state-related entities such as the N.Y. State Thruway Authority.