New York Court Records
New York court records are readily available online and can be useful to the public, lawyers and students alike. The ease of now finding something on the Internet versus tracking down individual documents in person is appealing to many who search court records for understanding a statute before filing a new case, educating the searcher on a legal matter that may be similar to their own circumstances, as well as to satisfy the curiosity of a genealogist looking for vital records.
New York, a densely populated state, has a unique judiciary structure to accommodate the heavy caseload of many people living in one area. Both civil and criminal courts are structured in a similar way with courts of original instance, intermediate appellate courts, Court of Appeals and Appellate divisions of the Supreme Court.
History of New York Court Records
In 1896 the New York State Constitution created four regional Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court. This is unique to the state as it ranks the Supreme Court as intermediate appellate courts and the Court of Appeals, established in 1847 as the court of last resort.
The Historical Society of the New York Courts have worked tirelessly to preserve the court records of their state by compiling records of the Court of Appeals from a period of 1847 to 1997. In addition to that, the organization hosts an online informative website on New York legal history.
New York Court Records Availability
In New York, you may make a request for a court record directly from the Clerk of the Court or the County Court that maintains the record. To conduct a search online for criminal or civil court records, you may search by index number, party name, attorney or legal firm, even by judge.
The legislative history made available through websites, law libraries and from Clerks of the Court allows the searcher to have a wide scope of judiciary information from each type of court.
Main Court Information
New York’s court structure is unique and expansive as there are a combined 4 million cases seen annually in the state’s 62 counties. The Courts of Original Instance are the lower courts of the state and include City Courts, Town Courts and Village Courts. Along the same infrastructure of the court system are Criminal, District and Civil Courts. To further break down the influx of caseload, there are additional courts at this same lower level, they are: County Courts, Supreme Courts, Surrogate’s Courts, Family Courts, and Courts of Claim.
The next highest jurisdictions of the structure of courts in New York are the Intermediate Appellate Courts. In Civil Court there are two of them, the Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court 1st and 2nd Departments and the County Courts. The Criminal Court structure is slightly different as it also includes the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court with the previously mentioned two.
And finally the last two courts of resort for the Civil Court structure of New York are the Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court, and the highest court, the Court of Appeals. For Criminal Court, the Court of Appeals is the last resort.
In 2013 the highest court of the state of New York, the Court of Appeals had 1,923 filings and of those there were 1,633 dispositions issued. Statewide there is an average of over 4 million court cases in New York annually.