New York Courts Hierarchy

In New York, there are several courts which function at a different level and perform different functions. Each of the court is responsible for hearing a set of cases and has a limited state jurisdiction.  On the basis of the powers, responsibilities and importance, the courts are divided into levels and the entire court system follows a hierarchy structure.

The highest court in New York is the Court of Appeals which has the highest jurisdiction in the state. To understand the hierarchy of the other courts in New York, you can go through the following given information.

New York Courts HierarchyAppellate Courts:

  • Court of Appeals

The New York State Court of Appeals is the highest court in the state and it hears both civil and criminal cases.  In civil cases, the appeals are taken from decisions of the Appellate divisions whereas in criminal cases, the appeals can be taken from decisions of the Appellate division, the County Court and the Appellate Term.

  • Appellate Division of the Supreme Court

This is the second highest ranking court in the state of New York and hears appeal from the superior courts in civil issues, the Supreme Court in criminal issues and county courts in felony criminal cases. The court is divided into 4 judicial departments.

Superior Courts

  • Supreme Court

This is the court of general jurisdiction and there is a branch of New York Supreme Court in each of the 62 counties lying within the state.  The Supreme Court in each county hears felony cases, civil cases and others related to divorce, legal separation, annulment of marriage etc.

  • County Court

Each of the counties except for 5 have one county court and each of it is considered distinct.  The court has unlimited jurisdiction in criminal and civil matters where the amount is no more than $25000.

  • Specialized courts
  • Surrogate’s Courts

This court exercises jurisdiction over probate and related matters. It also has jurisdiction over certain guardianship matters and over adoption issues.

  • Family Court

This has exclusive jurisdiction over matters involving minors, status offences, child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights and guardianships etc.

  • Court of Claims

This court hears actions seeking monetary damages against New York State itself.

Inferior Courts

  • City Courts-the New York City Courts are composed of New York City Criminal Court and New York City Civil Court.
  • District Courts-this is the local civil and criminal court and hears cases related to lesser felonies or offences.
  • City courts
  • Justice courts