New York

Judicial Branch

The information provide within this page was collected from the July 2016 New York State Courts, An Introductory Guide written by Janet DiFiore and Lawrence K. Marks.

New York State Judicial Branch has been divided geographically into four judicial departments, and 13 judicial districts for administrative reasons only.

Gugliotta & Ponzini handle matters within the 1st, 2nd, 9th, 12th, and 13th districts. Which cover all five boroughs of New York City as well as the Counties of Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland and Orange.

In the state of New York there are two types of courts, Trial Court where disputes or charges are heard and Court or Appeals where outcomes of Trial Courts are challenged.   Provided within this page is a brief descriptions of the various trial and appellate courts that make up the NYS court system.

New York State’s Courts are divided into New York City Trial-courts and Outside New York City Trial-courts as well as the Court of Appeals.


The differences between New York City and Outside of New York City are as follows

New York City Courts

Are broken down into Civil and Criminal Courts.

NYC Civil Courts, handle lawsuits involving claims of up to $25,000, and includes a small claims part that deals with claims of up to $1,000 as well as handling landlord-tenant matters.

NYC Criminal Court, handles misdemeanors and lesser offenses, as well as preliminary hearings for felonies.

Outside of New York City

Are broken down into “District Courts”, “City Courts”, “Town and Village Justice Courts”, “County Courts” which are located in each county outside of New York City.

District Courts, are located in Nassau County and the five western towns of Suffolk County, arraign defendants accused of felonies and handle misdemeanors and lesser offenses as well as civil suits involving claims up to $15,000.

City Courts, arraign defendants accused of felonies and handle misdemeanors and lesser offenses as well as civil suits involving claims up to $15,000. Some City Courts have small claims parts, where matters involving claims up to $5,000 are handled, and/or housing parts, which handle landlord-tenant matters.

Town and Village Justice Courts, handle misdemeanors and lesser offenses. Although the County Courts try felony cases, town and village justices first arraign defendants in Town and Village Courts. Town and Village Courts also hear civil suits involving claims up to $3,000.

County Courts, located in each county outside New York City, have exclusive authority to conduct trials in felony matters, while sharing authority with local City and Town and Village Courts to handle trials in misdemeanor cases and other minor offenses. County Courts also have limited authority over cases involving claims for money damages up to $25,000.

The similarities between New York City and Outside of New York City are as follows

The Supreme Court, generally hears cases outside the authority of the lower courts, such as civil matters involving higher dollar amounts; divorce, separation and annulment proceedings; and criminal prosecutions of felonies. (Outside New York City, Supreme Courts hear civil matters while the County Courts hear criminal matters.)

The Family Court, hears matters involving children and families including adoption; guardianship; foster care approval and review; juvenile delinquency; family violence; child abuse and neglect; and child support, custody and visitation.

The Surrogate’s Court, hears cases relating to individuals who have passed away, including the validity of wills and the administration of estates. These courts are also authorized to handle adoptions.

The Court of Claims, has exclusive authority over lawsuits seeking money damages against the State of New York. The Court of Claims also has jurisdiction over lawsuits seeking money damages against certain state-related entities such as the New York State Thruway, the City University of New York and the New York State Power Authority

Appellate Court

The Appellate Court is comprised of Intermediate appellate courts from each of the 13 judicial districts as well as the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court.  Which hears civil and criminal appeals from the State’s intermediate appellate courts, and in some instances from the trial courts. The Court of Appeals preforms other duties pertaining to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and the governing the admission of attorneys to the New York State bar.