Westchester Supreme Court
The New York Supreme Court system is the system of trial courts in our state, which means Supreme Courts hear original cases. This can be confusing for people from other states, where the Supreme Court is usually the state's highest court. Our Supreme Courts are an intermediate step in the court system, handling cases larger than those handled in county, city, town and village courts, but not the appeals (requests for a re-hearing) handled by the Supreme Court's Appellate Division or the New York Court of Appeals, our state's highest court.
In Westchester County, the Westchester Supreme Court hears civil lawsuits too large for Westchester County Court or various city and town courts. That generally means lawsuits that claim more than $25,000. Criminal matters are usually heard in other courts. By law, the Supreme Court also has jurisdiction over issues related to dissolving a marriage, such as divorce, separation and annulment; a special type of lawsuits called declaratory judgments, no matter what their size; and certain lawsuits against government officials.
As in all New York courts, you are free to represent yourself in the Westchester Supreme Court. However, unlike in criminal cases, you cannot expect to have a court-appointed attorney. And if anything significant is at stake in your case, an experienced attorney is likely worth the cost, because representation can make a dramatic difference in the outcome of your case.
If you have a case in Westchester Supreme Court, you should hire an attorney who not only understands the legal issues in your case, but also routinely practices in the court. The right expertise is important in civil claims - but hiring someone who also understands the local courts can give you an extra edge over people represented by an out-of-town lawyer. An experienced attorney who often appears in the Westchester Supreme Court will understand the legal rules and procedures specific to that court. Perhaps more importantly, he or she will also know the judges' past decisions and preferences, as well as the "personality" of the juries in Westchester County. By knowing how best to appeal to the people who decide your case, a local attorney can make the difference between success and failure.
The Westchester Supreme Court is part of the Ninth Judicial District, a division of the New York state court system that also includes Duchess, Putnam, Orange and Rockland Counties. In Westchester County, the Supreme Court is located in White Plains, at the judicial complex located at 111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. This is also where the Westchester County Court is located, as well as the White Plains branch of the Westchester Family Court.
The Supreme Court system also has an Appellate Division, which hears appeals - requests to reconsider the outcome of a case when one side believes a serious mistake was made. The New York Supreme Court's Appellate Division does not have a branch in Westchester County. Instead, Westchester County residents and others from the state's Ninth Judicial District hear appeals at the Second Department of the Appellate Division, located in Brooklyn.