The New York Court System consists of District Courts, City Courts, Town and Village Justice Courts, County Courts, Supreme Court, Family Court, Surrogate's Court, Court of Claims, Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court in the First and Second Departments, Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court, and Court of Appeals.
The City of New York has a Civil Court and Criminal Court to handle cases within its boundaries. The Civil Court of the City of New York hears civil claims of up to $25,000 and small claims up to $5,000, as well as landlord and tenant matters. The Criminal Court of the City of New York hears misdemeanor cases and preliminary hearings for felonies.
District Courts hear civil suits of up to $15,000, misdemeanors and arraignments of defendants in felony cases.
New York's City Courts hear criminal cases and civil claims up to $15,000. Some of them also hear small claims up to $5,000 and landlord and tenant matters.
The Town and Village Courts of New York hear civil suits up to $3,000, misdemeanors and lesser offenses. These courts also arraign defendants for felony cases before they are tried in County Courts.
There is a County Court located in each county outside of New York City. These courts exercise jurisdiction over felony cases and misdemeanor criminal trials. These courts also have jurisdiction over monetary damages up to $25,000.
The New York Supreme Court in New York City has jurisdiction over civil matters with higher claims, divorce and annulment and felonies. Supreme Courts outside of the city hear civil cases while County Courts hear criminal matters.
Just like the name, New York Family Court hears cases regarding adoption and guardianship, child custody, foster care, juvenile delinquency, child abuse, support and visitation.
The Surrogate's Court exercises jurisdiction over cases regarding people who are deceased. This includes will contests and estates. These courts also handle adoptions.
The Court of Claims has jurisdiction over cases against the State of New York and state agencies seeking monetary damages
As an intermediate appellate court, the Appellate Terms in the First Department hears appeals from New York City courts. The Second Department hears these same cases in addition to appeals from lower courts throughout the state.
New York has four Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court, which exercise jurisdiction over civil and criminal appeals from lower trial courts, as well as civil appeals from Appellate Terms and County Courts.
The Court of Appeals is New York's highest court and hears appeals from the state's intermediate appellate courts. This court also hears appeals of State Commission on Judicial Conduct decisions and determines rules for admitting attorneys to the state's bar.
The Third Department of the Appellate Division ruled a deceased woman's cat was entitled to a $100,000 trust in 2007. This occurred after her two surviving nephews argued the woman's caretaker influenced her to write her nephews out of her will a few years before her death. However, the court found that the nephews could not prove such influence existed, and the final will and testament stood its ground in court.