New York Court Records

Why New York Court Records are Available to the Public?

The Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public is provided access to public records of all governmental bodies in New York. New York's first such law was passed in 1974. That law was repealed and replaced in 1977 with a significantly changed law. Important amendments to the law were made in 1982, 2005 and 2008. The law aims to ensure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public.

What Court Records Access Means To You?

The FOIL similar to The New York Open Meeting Law (OML), which was enacted in 1976, except for the fact that it establishes open access to any public records and not only people’s and businesses’ conduct. The FOIL creates a presumption of openness, rather than listing records that the agencies must disclose, and declares that all records are open unless specifically exempt by statute.

Accountability to the Public

When the legislature enacted New York’s FOIL, it expressively declared that “access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state,” Freedom of Information Law. Indeed, in the state of New York, “access to the government and court records, in particular, has been deemed a fundamental interest in citizenship” and has emphasized that “maximum disclosure of the conduct of governmental operations [is] to be promoted by the act.” By promoting prompt public access to government records, the FOIL is “intended to safeguard the accountability of the government to the public.”

How the New York Court Process Functions?

Most cases in New York courts begin in one of the 62 superior or trial courts located in each of the state’s 62 counties.

The next level of judicial authority resides with the Courts of Appeals. Most cases before the Courts of Appeals involves the review of a superior court decision being contested by a party involved in the case. The legislature divided the state geographically into six appellate districts.

The Supreme Court serves as the highest court in the state and has the discretion to review decisions of the Courts of Appeals in order to settle disputes of interpreting the law per the state constitution and to resolve conflicts among the Courts of Appeals.

Some differences between Civil Court and Small Claims Court


Small Claims



Only the party who was sued can file an appeal; the person who filed the claim cannot appeal

Either party can appeal

Attorney Representation

You cannot have a lawyer file your claim or go to court with you, except for an appeal

You can have a lawyer file your claim and go to court for you

Filling fee for either the defendant or the plaintiff’s claim

$30  to $100 per claim

$180 to $320 per claim

Pre-trial discovery allowed



How long to complete your case

30-70 days after the complaint

120 days after you file the complaint

You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court. If you do not speak English well, it is advisable to bring someone who speaks English to court with you and ask the judge if that person can serve as your interpreter. The court cannot provide you an interpreter.

You can find an interpreter by using the New York Courts Interpreter Search page. Also see the webpage with interpreter information on this website: The SDNY Interpreters Office.

How New York Court Records Are Structured?

The court records category is made up of unlimited civil, limited civil and small claims matters.

Civil cases are matters where the petitioner is seeking more than $50,000. Civil cases also include other types of disputes that do not involve money, like cases to resolve title to real property, cases asking for civil restraining orders and requests to change your name or your child’s name.

  • Auto Torts
  • Other Personal Injury / Property
    Damage / Wrongful Death
  • Other Tort
  • Other Civil
  • Contracts
  • Real Property
  • Employment
  • Enforcement of Judgment
  • Unlawful Detainers
  • Judicial Review
  • Complex Litigation
  • Small Claims Appeals

Small Claims Court filings are cases where the petitioner is seeking $5,000 or less and is not represented by counsel. Close to 200,000 small claims cases are filed statewide every year.

Here are some examples of common Small Claims Court cases:

  • You can sue for the damages caused to automobiles, other personal property, real property, or a person.
  • You can sue for someone’s failure to provide proper repairs, services, merchandise or goods.
  • You can sue for someone’s failure to return security, property, a deposit or money loaned.
  • You can sue for the failure of someone to pay for services rendered, salary, an insurance claim, rent, commissions or for goods sold and delivered.
  • You can sue for the breach of lease, contract, warranty or agreement.
  • You can sue for the loss of luggage, property, time from work or use of the property.
  • You can sue for a check that bounced or that a stop payment was placed upon. 
New York State Archives

State Archives

Results Include

Full State Record Report:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Case Number
  • Case Summary
  • Docket
  • Police Report
  • Court Documents
  • Legal Records
  • Case File
  • Statements
  • Transcripts
  • Legal Forms
  • Case Notes
  • Disposition
  • Trial Records
  • Arbitration
  • Case Evidence
  • Witnesses
  • Interviews
  • Descriptions
  • Mugshots
  • Charges
  • Legal Motions
  • Attorney Records
  • Prosecution Records
New York County Courthouse 1927

New York County Courthouse 1927

  • State archives hold over 63,000 cubic feet of records.
  • There are 2 levels of courts – trial and appellate.
  • The Appellate Divisions of the Supreme Court of the State of New York are the intermediate appellate in New York State.
  • There are four Appellate Divisions, one in each of the state's four Judicial Departments 
  • There are 13 supreme courts in New York, with one in each of the 13 districts.
  • There are 57 county courts in New York, with one in each o the 57 counties.
  • The highest court in New York is the New York Court of Appeals.
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