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Court Records Research for Reporters

You Need to Know the Jurisdiction

In State Courts, You Need to Know the Type of Case


Civil and criminal

Diagram of civil court structure shows the Court of Appeals at the top, followed by the Appellate Divisions, then numerous intermediate appellate courts, then numerous courts of original instance Diagram of criminal court structure: shows Court of Appeals at the tope followed by three intermediate appellate courts, then numerous courts of original instance


Housing Court

Glossary of Legal Terms

You need to know these legal terms.  A complete glossary of legal terms from New York State is linked below.

  • jurisdiction: the geographical, subject matter, and monetary limitations of a court. Civil or Criminal – State or Federal – Misdemeanor or Felony – Etc.
  • index number: a number issued by the county clerk, which is used to identify a case – in civil matters there is usually a charge
  • docket: a document which summarizes a case, provides a list of actions/events in a case
  • caption: in a pleading, deposition or other paper connected with a case in court, it is the heading or introductory clause which shows the names of the parties, name of the court, number of the case on the docket or calendar, etc
  • complaint: initial pleading in an action formally setting forth the facts and reasons on which the demand for relief is based. In a civil case a plaintiff files the complaint. In a criminal case that is a misdemeanor, the state files the complaint. In felony criminal cases, the grand jury indicts the defendant
  • answer: a paper submitted by a defendant in a civil case in which s/he responds to and/or denies the allegations of the plaintiff
  • plaintiff: the party bringing a civil action
  • pleadings: complaint or petition, answer, and reply
  • motion: an oral or written request to the court made by a party for a ruling or order