The Structure of Appellate Courts

By: Undisputed Legal/Court Service Department

Court of Appeals: The Court of Appeals is the highest court in the state. As the state’s court of last resort, the Court of Appeals hears appeals from the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. The court has seven judges, six associate judges, and the chief judge. Court of Appeals judges are appointed for 14-year terms by the governor who must make an appointment from a list of seven “well-qualified” candidates submitted by the bipartisan 12-member Commission on Judicial Nominations. The New York State Senate must also confirm the nomination. 

Appellate Division of the Supreme Court: The Appellate Division hears civil, criminal, and family court appeals. There are four Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court, one in each of the state’s four judicial departments. Appellate Division judges are appointed by the governor. In each judicial department, prior to appointment, candidates are screened by judicial screening committees also appointed by the governor. The governor may select a candidate deemed highly qualified by the committee but is not obligated to do so. The judges for the Appellate Divisions must be selected from among elected Supreme Court judges. 

Appellate Term of the Supreme Court: Appellate Terms of the Supreme Court exist in the First and Second Departments to hear appeals from civil and criminal cases originally heard in the Civil and Criminal Courts of the City of New York. In the Second Department, the Appellate Term also has jurisdiction over appeals from civil and criminal cases originating in District, City, Town and Village courts. The Chief Administrative Judge appoints the judges of the Appellate Term from among sitting Supreme Court judges. 

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