New York Court Records
How Does the New York City Civil Court Work?
New York City Civil Court is a trial court of limited jurisdiction in the New York Unified Court System. This court is the equivalent of the City Court in other counties. As the name implies, the Civil Court of New York City has jurisdiction over monetary claims in which the amount of the claim does not exceed $25,000 as well other civil matters handed over to it by the Supreme Court.
Civil cases in the New York City Civil Court are resolved by trial or by arbitration. Trials may be single or bifurcated depending on the circumstances of the claim. Generally, civil case trials involving different aspects of the law are usually bifurcated and tried on different dates. Frequently, this is true for liability and damage proceedings. In such trials, the issue of liability is tried first unless ordered otherwise. The essence of holding bifurcated trials is to clarify and simplify issues and aid a fair and more expeditious case resolution.
The New York Civil Court has a small claims part (small claims court), housing part (housing court), calendar part, trial part, motion part, conference part, and multi-purpose part, all established to exercise subject-matter jurisdiction over specific case types.
The small claims court decides lawsuits involving claims for damages up to $5,000. Small claims judges decide cases by bench or jury trials. Small claims cases are usually self-represented by the parties involved. However, cases, where the parties appear by attorneys, may be transferred to the appropriate county division of the New York City Civil Court.
The Housing Court handles all case actions filed under § 110 of the NYCCCA. These may include eviction cases involving landlords and tenants. As a general rule, housing proceedings must be taken to county civil court (housing part) where the real property in dispute is situated (NYCCCA § 302). Special and standard provisions for some specific cases include:
- Housing cases in which the contested premise is located in Postal zip codes 10035 and 10037 must be noticed and filed in the Housing Part of Harlem Courthouse
- Housing action involving Taft houses and Jefferson houses must be filed in the courthouse in Harlem
- Housing action following premises in which one of the parties is the New York City Housing Authority must be noticed and filed in the Red Hook Community Justice Center. Affected premises include:
- 572 Warren Street Development Houses
- Atlantic Terminal Houses
- Gowanus Houses
- Red Hook East Houses
- Red Hook West Houses
- Wycoff Gardens Houses
As deemed fit by the Administrative Judge, the Housing Part is presided over by civil court judges or by a housing judge. However, jury trials are strictly conducted by civil court judges.
The Calendar Part of the Civil Court of New York City is responsible for calling and maintaining a calendar of scheduled cases. This part is also charged with hearing and disposing of all motions and applications including applications for adjournments and orders to show cause, in civil cases that are on a reserve or ready calendar but not allocated to a trial part.
The Trial Part handles trials of civil actions and also determines motions and applications made after a civil action is prescribed to a trial part.
The Motion Part is a part of the court tasked with hearing and determining applications and motions that are not alternatively assigned to a trial part, calendar part, or conference part.
The conference part is responsible for holding a pre-calendar or pretrial conference of civil case actions as provided by the part or by the Chief Administrator’s order.
The Multi-Purpose Part is so-called because it can perform the functions of any of the aforementioned parts as well as other special parts of the court.
Among many other functions, the Chief Administrator also establishes additional parts of the court if the need arises.
Civil Court Judges are elected by countywide elections or judicial district elections. Generally, aspirants are required to file petitions to be considered candidates for a political party nomination in the general election. The judges serve 10-year terms and may be re-elected or replaced upon completion of their tenures. Interim vacancies are filled by appointments by the mayor. Appointed judges typically serve until the last day of December after the next election.
Pursuant to Article VI of the New York Constitution, Housing Court Judges are not judges. They are appointed by the Chief Administrative Judge from a list of competent applicants screened and nominated by the Housing Court Advisory Council. In New York City, housing court judges serve five-year terms after which they may be re-appointed or replaced.
Records of Civil Courts of New York City are maintained by the clerk of court. Requesters may personally visit the court clerk or send a written request by mail. Contact the clerk to learn how requests may be made and what fees will be paid. Below are the location and contact addresses of all Civil Courts in New York City: