New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division



The Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court of the State of New York are the intermediate
appellate court A court of appeals, also called a court of appeal, appellate court, appeal court, court of second instance or second instance court, is any court of law that is empowered to hear an appeal of a trial court or other lower tribunal. In much o ...
s in
New York State New York, officially the State of New York, is a state in the Northeastern United States. It is often called New York State to distinguish it from its largest city, New York City. With a total area of , New York is the 27th-largest U.S. sta ...
. There are four Appellate Divisions, one in each of the state's four Judicial Departments (e.g., the full title of the "Fourth Department" is "Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department").NY Courts website Appellate Divisions page
Accessed June 24, 2009.


Each Appellate Division primarily hears appeals from the superior courts (
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court within the hierarchy of courts in most legal jurisdictions. Other descriptions for such courts include court of last resort, apex court, and high (or final) court of appeal. Broadly speaking, the decisions ...
, surrogate's courts, family courts, county courts, and Court of Claims) in civil cases, the Supreme Court in criminal cases, and the county courts in felony criminal cases in the Third and Fourth Judicial Departments. In addition, in civil cases it may hear appeals from the appellate terms of the Supreme Court when these courts have heard appeals from one of the lower trial courts. New York's rules of
civil procedure Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that courts follow when adjudicating civil lawsuits (as opposed to procedures in criminal law matters). These rules govern how a lawsuit or case may be commenced; what kin ...
allow for
interlocutory appeal An interlocutory appeal (or interim appeal), in the law of civil procedure in the United States, occurs when a ruling by a trial court is appealed while other aspects of the case are still proceeding. Interlocutory appeals are allowed only under sp ...
s of right from nearly every order and decision of the trial court, meaning that most may be appealed to the appropriate appellate department while the case is still pending in the trial court. An Appellate Division may make decisions of law and
fact A fact is a datum about one or more aspects of a circumstance, which, if accepted as true and proven true, allows a logical conclusion to be reached on a true–false evaluation. Standard reference works are often used to check facts. Scient ...
with respect to its power to hear first appeals from state trial courts, including the Supreme Court and County Courts. These trial level courts exercise specific jurisdiction as conferred by law."An Overview of the Appellate Division"
on the New York State Courts website
In contrast, both the New York Court of Appeals and the Appellate Division when it sits as a final appeals court with respect to appeals arising from decisions of the Appellate Terms in the First and Second Departments, generally may only decide questions of law. The Appellate Division may adjudicate facts subject to specific constraints in the course of initial review of agency decisions under New York's CPLR Article 78, which provides for limited court review or agency and corporate decisions. Decisions of the Appellate Division department panels are binding on the lower courts in that department, and also on lower courts in other departments unless there is contrary authority from the Appellate Division of that department. If two different departments have made different rulings on the same issue, then the lower courts in each departmental area must follow the ruling made by the higher court for their particular department. This can sometimes result in the same law being applied differently in different departments. When this occurs, the highest court in the state, the Court of Appeals, can remedy the situation by hearing the case and issuing a single ruling, which is then binding on every court in the state. Every opinion, memorandum, and motion of the Appellate Division sent to the New York State Reporter of the New York State Law Reporting Bureau is required to be published in the '' Appellate Division Reports''. Opinions of the appellate terms are published selectively in the '' Miscellaneous Reports''.



First Department The First Department (russian: Первый отдел) was in charge of secrecy and political security of the workplace of every enterprise or institution of the Soviet Union that dealt with any kind of technical or scientific information ( ...
(seated in
Manhattan Manhattan (), known regionally as the City, is the most densely populated and geographically smallest of the five boroughs of New York City. The borough is also coextensive with New York County, one of the original counties of the U.S. state ...
) covers
The Bronx The Bronx () is a borough of New York City, coextensive with Bronx County, in the state of New York. It is south of Westchester County; north and east of the New York City borough of Manhattan, across the Harlem River; and north of the New Yor ...
( Bronx County) and Manhattan (
New York County Manhattan (), known regionally as the City, is the most densely populated and geographically smallest of the five boroughs of New York City. The borough is also coextensive with New York County, one of the original counties of the U.S. state ...
). Justice Rolando Acosta has been the department's Presiding Justice since May 22, 2017. *The Second Department (seated in
Brooklyn Brooklyn () is a borough of New York City, coextensive with Kings County, in the U.S. state of New York. Kings County is the most populous county in the State of New York, and the second-most densely populated county in the United States, beh ...
) covers
Queens Queens is a borough of New York City, coextensive with Queens County, in the U.S. state of New York. Located on Long Island, it is the largest New York City borough by area. It is bordered by the borough of Brooklyn at the western tip of Long Is ...
( Queens County), Brooklyn ( Kings County),
Staten Island Staten Island ( ) is a borough of New York City, coextensive with Richmond County, in the U.S. state of New York. Located in the city's southwest portion, the borough is separated from New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull an ...
( Richmond County),
Long Island Long Island is a densely populated island in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of New York, part of the New York metropolitan area. With over 8 million people, Long Island is the most populous island in the United States and the 18th ...
( Nassau and
Suffolk Suffolk () is a ceremonial county of England in East Anglia. It borders Norfolk to the north, Cambridgeshire to the west and Essex to the south; the North Sea lies to the east. The county town is Ipswich; other important towns include Lowes ...
counties) and Dutchess,
Orange Orange most often refers to: * Orange (fruit), the fruit of the tree species '' Citrus'' × ''sinensis'' ** Orange blossom, its fragrant flower *Orange (colour), from the color of an orange, occurs between red and yellow in the visible spectrum ...
, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties. This department is the largest by population. Justice Hector LaSalle has been the Presiding Justice since May 25, 2021. *The Third Department (seated in Albany) includes an area extending from the territory of the Second Department north to New York's borders with
Vermont Vermont () is a U.S. state, state in the northeast New England region of the United States. Vermont is bordered by the states of Massachusetts to the south, New Hampshire to the east, and New York (state), New York to the west, and the Provin ...
Quebec Quebec ( ; )According to the Canadian government, ''Québec'' (with the acute accent) is the official name in Canadian French and ''Quebec'' (without the accent) is the province's official name in Canadian English is one of the thirteen ...
, and includes the cities of Albany,
Troy Troy ( el, Τροία and Latin: Troia, Hittite: 𒋫𒊒𒄿𒊭 ''Truwiša'') or Ilion ( el, Ίλιον and Latin: Ilium, Hittite: 𒃾𒇻𒊭 ''Wiluša'') was an ancient city located at Hisarlik in present-day Turkey, south-west of Ç ...
, Schenectady,
Saratoga Springs Saratoga Springs is a city in Saratoga County, New York, United States. The population was 28,491 at the 2020 census. The name reflects the presence of mineral springs in the area, which has made Saratoga a popular resort destination for over ...
, and Binghamton. This territory extends nearly as far west as Syracuse. Hon. Elizabeth A. Garry has been the Presiding Justice since January 1, 2018. *The Fourth Department (seated in Rochester) covers the remainder of the state (west of the Third Department's territory), and includes the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. Hon. Gerald J. Whalen has been the Presiding Justice since January 7, 2016.

Programs and agencies

Attorneys and Counselors at Law

In addition to hearing appeals in matters of law and equity, the Appellate Divisions regulate the admission of lawyers to the Bar and their conduct and discipline. * Each department has a Character and Fitness Committee, whose members interview applicants in person for admission to the bar. * Each department has Attorney Grievance Committees that investigates complaints of attorney misconduct and may issue reprimands or recommend censure, suspension, or disbarment to the Appellate Division.

Protection of minors and the incapacitated

At English
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent, judge-made law, or case law) is the body of law created by judges and similar quasi-judicial tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions."The common law is not a brooding omniprese ...
, the
Lord Chancellor The lord chancellor, formally the lord high chancellor of Great Britain, is the highest-ranking traditional minister among the Great Officers of State in Scotland and England in the United Kingdom, nominally outranking the prime minister. Th ...
, as the king's delegate to exercise the Crown's special jurisdiction, had responsibility for the custody and protection of infants and the mentally incapacitated. When the
New York Supreme Court The Supreme Court of the State of New York is the trial-level court of general jurisdiction in the New York State Unified Court System. (Its Appellate Division is also the highest intermediate appellate court.) It is vested with unlimited ci ...
was organized, the Legislature transferred what remained of the king's prerogative to the court. * The Appellate Division regulates the panels of attorneys that represent children in family law proceedings in the appellate, Supreme, Family and Criminal Courts, and each department has an Office for Attorneys for Children (Originally named Law Guardian). * Each department also has a Mental Hygiene Legal Service (MHLS) program. Since its creation by statute in 1964 as the Mental Health Information Service, the MHLS has served as the watchdog of the rights of the institutionalized mentally disabled in New York and has been recognized by the courts as essential to the state's statutory "protective shield of checks and balances" governing the admission, transfer and retention of psychiatric patients. * Court Examiners are designated by each department to ascertain whether guardians appointed pursuant to the Mental Hygiene Law have complied with the order of appointment and have performed the duties specified.


Each case is decided by a panel of five, or in some instances four, justices of the Court. There is no procedure for the Court to sit
en banc In law, an en banc session (; French for "in bench"; also known as ''in banc'', ''in banco'' or ''in bank'') is a session in which a case is heard before all the judges of a court (before the entire bench) rather than by one judge or a smaller ...
. Some basic rules governing appeals are found in Articles 55 and 57 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, but they are not detailed enough to fully provide for a comprehensive system of appellate procedure. Prior to September 2018, and unlike other states that have statewide rules of appellate procedure, there was no set of appellate procedure rules shared by all four departments beyond the rudimentary set in the CPLR. Instead, each Appellate Division filled in the CPLR's gaps by promulgating its own individual set of rules governing more specific details of practice before that court. The result was considerable diversity in appellate procedure between the four Appellate Divisions, which extended to matters as basic as the form and formatting of appellate briefs, the deadline to perfect an appeal after filing of the notice of appeal, appellate motions, and oral argument. During the 2010s, this problem was studied at length by the New York State Bar Association, and the NYSBA's recommendations for reform came to the attention of Chief Judge Janet DiFiore. In June 2018, the Presiding Justices of the Appellate Divisions promulgated statewide Practice Rules of the Appellate Division, which became effective in September 2018 and are codified outside of the CPLR in 22 N.Y.C.R.R. Part 1250. The four Departments retain the ability to supplement (and even supersede) the uniform rules by promulgating rules of their own.

Appeals from an Appellate Division

Decisions by an Appellate Division may be appealed to the state's highest court, the
New York Court of Appeals The New York Court of Appeals is the highest court in the Unified Court System of the State of New York. The Court of Appeals consists of seven judges: the Chief Judge and six Associate Judges who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by ...
. In some cases, an appeal lies of right, but in most cases, permission (or "leave") to appeal must be obtained, either from the Appellate Division itself or from the Court of Appeals. In civil cases, the Appellate Division panel or Court of Appeals votes on petitions for leave to appeal; in most criminal cases, however, the petition for leave to appeal is referred to a single Justice or Judge, whose decision whether to grant or deny leave is final.

Case management

To keep caseloads under control, most Appellate Division opinions are extremely concise. Often, an Appellate Division panel will dispose of an entire case in only two paragraphs, with the second paragraph stating: "We have considered plaintiff's (or defendant's) remaining contentions and find them unavailing." In contrast, courts in most other states traditionally devote a few more paragraphs to disposing of the other "remaining contentions."

Appointment of justices

Justices of the Appellate Divisions are chosen by the Governor from among those elected to the State Supreme Court. A justice does not have to have been elected from one of the judicial districts within a department to be appointed to the Appellate Division for that department, although the Presiding Justice and a majority of the total number of justices are to reside within the department. They serve at least five years, or until the completion of their 14-year elected terms, or reaching the constitutional age limit of 70, beyond which the governor may choose to reappoint them for up to three two-year terms. The State Constitution provides that the First and Second Department are each to comprise seven justices, and the Third and Fourth departments five justices. In addition to these "constitutional" justices, the presiding justice of each department may ask the Governor to designate "additional justices" where needed based on the court's workload. At present, for example, the First Department comprises 20 justices in total when there are no vacancies. The qualifications for additional Justices are the same as for other justices.

Administration of the courts

Attorneys are admitted to the New York bar by one of the Appellate Division departments rather than by New York's highest court, the Court of Appeals, though once admitted to any of the Appellate Division departments, such attorney is admitted to practice and appear before all non-federal courts in the state, including the Court of Appeals. Applicants must be interviewed in person by a member of the court's "Character and Fitness Committee" after passing the New York State Bar Exam (since July 2016, the Uniform Bar Examination) and Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination administered by the New York State Board of Law Examiners. Applicants are admitted in the department in which they reside; applicants residing outside New York are admitted through the Third Department in Albany. Judges are regulated by the ''Rules Governing Judicial Conduct'' promulgated by the Chief Administrator, the ''Code of Judicial Conduct'' adopted by the New York State Bar Association, and the relevant rules of the respective Appellate Division departments. Attorneys are regulated by various state laws, the ''Rules of Professional Conduct'' (based on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct), and rules adopted by each department of the Appellate Division. Each department of the Appellate Division has a committee that investigates complaints of attorney misconduct and may issue reprimands or recommend censure, suspension, or disbarment to the Appellate Division.


The Appellate Divisions were created by the
New York State Constitution The Constitution of the State of New York establishes the structure of the government of the State of New York, and enumerates the basic rights of the citizens of New York. Like most state constitutions in the United States, New York's constituti ...
of 1894 to succeed the General Term of the Supreme Court, effective January 1, 1896.The new judicial system
in NYT on January 2, 1896

See also

Judiciary of New York The Judiciary of New York (officially the New York State Unified Court System) is the judicial branch of the Government of New York, comprising all the courts of the State of New York (excluding extrajudicial administrative courts). The Court o ...
* Judicial Conference of the State of New York * Appellate Division Courthouse of New York State * New York State Courts Electronic Filing System


Further reading

* * * * *

External links

Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court
First Judicial Department
Second Judicial Department
Third Judicial Department
Fourth Judicial Department

Lower appellate courts
First Judicial Department Appellate Term
Second Judicial Department Appellate Term

Supreme Court
in the
New York Codes, Rules and Regulations The ''New York Codes, Rules and Regulations'' (NYCRR) contains New York state rules and regulations. The NYCRR is officially compiled by the New York State Department of State's Division of Administrative Rules. Contents See also * '' New Yor ...

New York Slip Opinion Service
from the New York State Law Reporting Bureau
New York Official Reports Service
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{{State Intermediate Appellate Courts New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division New York (state) state courts State appellate courts of the United States New York (state) law 1896 establishments in New York (state) Courts and tribunals established in 1896