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New York Legal Research: Judicial Opinions

This guide provides information on New York legal sources, and identifies pertinent resources available through the NYU Law Library

New York Court System

The New York court system has three levels: Trial courts - including the Supreme Courts (unlike in the federal system), the Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court, and the Court of Appeals, which is the court of last resort (similar to the Supreme Court in the federal system). For a thorough introduction to the New York court system, see the link below to the guide published by the New York Unified Court Systems.

Dockets and Briefs

The following links provide access to a limited number of court briefs and dockets.

New York Court of Appeals Opinions

The Court of Appeals is New York's highest court, composed of a Chief Judge and six Associate Judges. In general, the Court of Appeals hears civil and criminal cases on appeal from the other appellate courts. Its review is generally limited to questions of law. Cases on constitutional provisions and the death penalty are appealed directly to this court.

New York Appellate Division Opinions

New York State's intermediate level appellate court is the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. It hears appeals from trial courts and has the power to review both law and facts in civil and criminal cases. There are four Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court in New York State: New York and Bronx counties are in the First Appellate Division; Kings, Queens and surrounding counties in Southern New York are in the Second Appellate Division.

Supreme Court, Appellate Term: in the First and Second Departments, Appellate Terms were created to hear cases on appeal from the Civil and Criminal Courts of the City of New York. The Second Department also hears appeals from the originating City, Town and Village Courts.

New York Trial Court Opinions

Statewide trial courts consist of the Supreme Courts, County Courts, Family Courts and Surrogate's Courts.

The Supreme Court is a trial court of statewide jurisdiction, which hears cases that are outside the other trial courts of limited jurisdiction.The Supreme Court hears both civil and criminal trials, though most criminal cases are heard in County Courts. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over felony charges in New York City.

The County Courts are trial courts with jurisdiction over civil law and equity. Excepting New York City, these courts have original jurisdiction over criminal charges. Appeals from these courts are heard in the Appellate Division.

Each county and New York City have a division of Family Court, which has jurisdiction over matters involving children and families - including child support, custody, foster care, adoption, paternity, and juvenile delinquency.

Surrogate's Curt hears cases involving decedents' estates, probate of wills, adoptions, and guardianships.

For a description of the various courts, see the New York State Unified Court System website.