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Suffolk County District Court - All FAQs


updated 10 February, 2009

Civil Court

What time are the Civil Courthouses open for business?
  • All courthouses are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • “Night Small Claims” Court is held on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. in the Ronkonkoma Courthouse.
  • All business must be commenced by 4:30 p.m.
  • Most calendars are called at 9:30 a.m. (except Small Claims night court 6:00 p.m.)
  • Civil courthouses are closed and locked from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Can I call to get an adjournment on my civil case?

No.

  • Adjournment requests must be in writing and will not be considered by phone.
  • All other parties should be notified of all adjournment requests.

Do I need an attorney in the civil court?
  • It is strongly recommended, but not absolutely required, that an individual seek the advice of an attorney. Civil actions require specific knowledge of court proceedings.
  • Corporations are required to have an attorney in all proceedings (except Small Claims or Commercial Small Claims). It is necessary for an attorney to represent the corporation at all stages of an action, including answering the summons and complaint.
  • It is essential that a party proceeding without an attorney be fully versed in court procedure, trial and evidentiary rules. Neither the court staff nor judge may provide legal assistance at any stage of the proceedings.
What is the maximum amount that I can sue for in the civil court?
The maximum amount is $15,000 per cause of action in District Court. Small Claims are special actions that are limited to $5000 per filing. There is no monetary limit to money awarded in a summary proceeding in landlord tenant court.
How can I commence a civil suit?
  • Civil actions are generally commenced by an attorney.
  • If you chose to represent yourself, you must purchase a civil summons and complaint form that is specifically intended for the District Court. An example is a Blumberg form T1480 which can be purchased at a store that sells legal stationery or from www.blumberglegalforms.com.
  • After the form is completed by you, the summons must be issued (signed) by a District Court civil clerk. There is a filing fee. After the summons is signed, you must arrange to have the summons and complaint served on the defendant(s).
How do I serve someone with court papers?
  • Service may be made by someone over the age of eighteen who is not a party to the action.
  • A professional process server may be used. A plaintiff or defendant cannot serve papers.
  • The law specifies how papers must be served, and the methods vary depending on the type of paper that is being served.
  • Additionally, the method of service may be directed in an order of the court. The clerk of the court may be contacted to determine how papers may be served.


I have received a civil summons from the District Court. What do I do?
You must appear at the District Court Clerk's office where the case is pending to file an answer to the civil complaint. You should do this as soon as possible, since the maximum amount of time that you have to answer is either twenty or thirty days depending on how you were served with the summons.
Can I answer a summons by mail?
  • You may file an answer by mail providing that the answer is notarized and served on the plaintiff's attorney.
  • If you do not answer, the plaintiff may file a default judgment against you.
  • If you are a corporation, you must answer through an attorney.
Can I answer a summons for my spouse?
No.
Can I file a counterclaim?

The defendant may include a counterclaim with the answer. There is no fee for this kind of counterclaim (but there is a fee for a Small Claims Counterclaim).

What happens after I answer a summons?
  • If both the plaintiff (the person starting the law suit) and the defendant (the person sued) are represented by an attorney, a Notice of Trial with the proper fee must be received before a case can proceed to trial or to compulsory arbitration.
  • If either side is self represented, the matter will immediately be scheduled for a pre-trial conference, before a judge, if the Cause of Action is greater than $6,000. If the Cause of Action is $6,000 or less, the matter will be referred to compulsory arbitration.

 

What if I am not satisfied with the decision of the arbitrator?
  • Any party who is not in default may request a trial de novo within 35 days of the mailing of the arbitrator's decision.
  • A demand for a new trial must be filed timely with the clerk, with the proper fee.

 

How do I get a verbatim transcript of a court proceeding? (A verbatim transcript is a printed version of everything said at a court proceeding. A clerk's transcript of judgment is a court form, usually filed with the county clerk to collect money from a person).

When requesting a verbatim transcript, you should have the

  • name of the case,
  • case number,
  • location of the proceeding, and
  • date of the proceeding,
  • and time stamp or meter reading of the proceeding (if a digital recording machine was used).

Most court proceedings are recorded either by a Court Reporter sitting in the courtroom writing down what is said in the courtroom or by a digital recording machine.

To have a transcript produced of a District Court proceeding which was recorded by a Court Reporter:

  • tell the reporter at the proceeding that you need a transcript, or
  • call the court reporters office (631) 853-5418, or
  • fax your request to the court reporters office (631) 853-7854 .

To have a transcript produced of an electronically recorded court proceeding, you may contact one of the transcription services listed on the list of Electronic Recording Transcription Services. This list of transcription services may also be found at courthouse public information windows.

These services are not employees of the Unified Court System, they are independent contractors and establish their own rates - price per page varies. They will either take the required information and contact the Court, or ask you to contact the court and arrange to have the recording sent to the contractor.

If you have any questions regarding a verbatim transcript from a Suffolk County District Court matter, please contact: Ron Gorman, Supervising Court Reporter, (631) 853-5418.

 

Small Claims Court

What is the Small Claim legislative history in New York State?

New York Governor Herbert H. Lehman proposed and signed the bill in 1934 creating a SMALL CLAIMS PART in New York City Municipal Court with a monetary limit of $50.00. Soon thereafter, Small Claims parts were established throughout the state with ever-increasing jurisdiction. (1945-$100.00, 1963-$300.00, 1971-$500.00, 1975-$1,000.00, 1981-$1,500.00, 1987-$2,000.00, 1994-$3,000.00, and 2004-$5000).

What is the definition of a Small Claim Action?
Any cause of action for money only, not in excess of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) exclusive of interest and costs.

Small claims matters are limited to the recovery of money. This is not the proper forum for punitive damages.

In Suffolk District Court, the defendant either resides, or has an office for the transaction of business or a regular employment within any district in the county (UDCA §1801): one of the five western towns of Suffolk County (Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip or Smithtown).

What is the proper venue for a Small Claim action?

The proper venue for a small claims action is in the District in which one of the parties resides at the commencement of the proceeding or, if no party then resides in a District, in the district in which one of the parties has regular employment or a place for the regular transaction of business (UDCA §301).

What is a Commercial Claim Action?

Chapter 653 of the Laws of 1987 enacted Article 18-A of the court acts: COMMERCIAL CLAIMS. The effective date for the District Courts and the City Courts outside New York City was January 1, 1989, and for New York City on January 1, 1991. The two year delay for commencing Commercial Claims in New York City gave court administrators an opportunity to prepare for the expected flood of filings. The drafters were so concerned, that the statute limited a commercial claimant to only five (5) actions per calendar month.

What is the definition of a Commercial Claim Action?
Same as SMALL CLAIM definition PLUS the claimant is a corporation, partnership or association, which has its principal office in the State of New York. An assignee may institute an action or proceeding under this article. (UDCA§§ 1801-A(a) and 1809-A(a))

The provisions of the Court Acts and Rules for SMALL CLAIMS and COMMERCIAL CLAIMS are similar if not identical in most respects. In general, most procedures (e.g. counterclaim, jury demand, etc. . .) will apply to both SMALL CLAIMS and COMMERCIAL CLAIMS actions.

What is the definition of a Consumer Transaction Claim?

A COMMERCIAL CLAIM against a natural person, wherein the money, property or service which is the subject of the transaction is primarily for personal, family or household purposes (UDCA §1801-A(b)).

Who can use the small claims court?
  • An individual, over age 18.
  • A partnership or municipal corporation
  • Corporations and associations must use the commercial claims court.
Who should I sue?

While it is important to sue the proper party, it is up to you determine who to sue. Court personnel may not provide legal opinions.

In a motor vehicle accident the registered owner of a vehicle should sue the registered owner of all other vehicles involved in an accident.
You should always make an effort to sue a business in their true business name. Such information is generally available through the Suffolk County Clerk, the NYS Department of State, or through consumer affairs or another state or county licensing agency.

You may sue a business under a name known to you. However, you must determine their true business name prior to judgment.

How do I sue someone in small claims court?

A DC-283 Complaint Form must be completed and filed with the court:

You need only know the name of the party you wish to sue, their street address, the amount, and the reason for your claim. Evidence is not required for filing.

The court will prepare a summons and notify the person you wish to sue.

The person or business you are suing must reside, maintain an office for business or be regularly employed in one of the five western towns of Suffolk County, which are: the town of Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip or Smithtown.

A street address must be provided for the person you intend to sue. Post office boxes alone are not acceptable.

What if I only have PO Box address for the person I intend to sue?
You should contact the United States Postal Service or the Postmaster where the post office box is located for the correct procedure to obtain the street address for a business, corporation or individual. Post office boxes alone are not acceptable.
Can I file by mail?

Yes.

You may download a copy of a Suffolk County District Court Complaint Form and mail it to the District Court Clerk's office with the proper fee. Follow the directions referenced at the Small Claims Mailing Instructions or the Commercial Claims instructions and link to the DC-283 claim form.

You may also send a self addressed stamped envelope to the District Court Clerk's office in the District Court where you intend to file your claim. The proper fee, in the form of a check or money order must be provided, made payable to “The Clerk of the District Court.” Do not send cash.

What if the person I want sue does not live in one of the five western towns?

You must sue an individual or business in the county of their residence or place of business. For example a Nassau resident must be sued in Nassau County.

If the party you intend to sue resides or does business in Suffolk County but is located in one of the five eastern towns, you must file your claim in the Justice court within that town.

If someone owes me more than $5,000 can I file separate claims to meet the total?

No! You may not split your “cause of action.” A cause of action is the basis for the claim, such as a contract or property damage from a car accident. Separate contracts or accidents may allow you to file separate claims.

Who will hear my case when I get to court?

All small and commercial claims cases are heard by either an attorney arbitrator or a judicial hearing officer. Hearings are informal and designed to expedite the claim between the parties.

What happens when I get to court?

Your case will be called in the courtroom. If both sides are ready to proceed, you will be called up to the arbitrator for a trial. All initial claims are heard by an arbitrator is Suffolk County.

The person who made the claim is called the plaintiff. The plaintiff will state their case by testifying under oath and presenting evidence. The person being sued ( the defendant) will have an opportunity to testify and present their own evidence.

How do I prove my case?

There are two parts to proving a case:

  1. Liability - Your testimony, the testimony of witnesses or evidence such as a signed contract, will generally prove who is at fault.
  2. Damages - The actual monetary amount of the claim. Damages may be proved in one of three ways:
    1. An itemized paid bill.
    2. Two estimates, from independent professionals.
    3. An expert witness (An expert witness may be required to prove that a professional performed their work improperly).

 

What happens after the trial?

If you have proven your case, the arbitrator will award a judgment for the amount which you have proven.

If you have not proven your case the matter will be dismissed.

If the defendant has filed a counterclaim and proves their case, a judgment may be entered against you.

What happens if the defendant does not come to court?

If the court was able to serve the person or business you are suing, you will have the right to a one sided trial called an Inquest. Even though the party is not present, you must still prove your case.

Why must my case be heard by an arbitrator?

In the Suffolk County District Court all matters are heard by an arbitrator. Judges in Suffolk County are assigned to complex civil matters and criminal proceedings, due to the high volume of cases in the county.

Most people find a hearing before an arbitrator to be even less complex than a formal trial before a judge. If either party is not satisfied with the arbitrator's decision, they may request a new trial, which is called a trial de novo, before a judge. There is an additional fee, which is payable by the party requesting the trial de novo. Less than 6% of all cases result in a new trial. See Post Arbitration Judgements and Trial de novo.

Do I need an attorney?

Attorneys are not required in small claims or commercial claims court.

Either side may retain an attorney.

If both sides appear with an attorney the case may be transferred to the regular civil part of the court.

Can I sue for the return of my property?

No!

Small claims is for the recovery of money only. You also cannot sue to have an action performed such as to have your kitchen cabinets fixed.

You may sue for the value of the property you are missing, or for the value of the required repair.

 

Landlord & Tenant

What is a Landlord-Tenant (L&T) court case?

Landlord-Tenant (L&T) court cases are mostly evictions, where a landlord is asking a Judge to order a tenant to leave. Evictions are filed pursuant to Article 7 of the Real Property Actions and Proceeding Law (RPAPL) summary proceedings to recover possession of real property.

The two most common types of evictions (see RPAPL §711) are

  • Non-Payment proceedings - brought only after there is a default in the payment of rent, and the landlord demands that the tenant pay the rent or move from the property (and is not subject to any limitation in the amount of unpaid rent that can be awarded in a summary proceeding).
  • Holdover proceedings - brought when a person remains in possession of real property after the term of a tenancy expires, for example when a lease ends or after service of a termination notice
There are other proceedings (some are listed in RPAPL §713 and RPAPL §715) - you should speak to an attorney to draft your papers.

Tenants might also file L&T cases to make a landlord fix a dangerous or life-threatening condition. These cases are special proceedings filed pursuant to RPAPL Article 7A: special proceedings to remedy conditions dangerous to life, health or safety.

L&T proceedings are specialized and procedural rules must be followed strictly.

Do I need an attorney for an L&T case?

This Court strongly recommends that you retain an attorney. Proceedings to recover real property require knowledge of the law and familiarity with local rules and practices.

If are an individual person who is the homeowner and landlord, and you wish to proceed without an attorney, you will be responsible for preparing your papers in accordance with the law without any assistance from the Court Clerk or the court staff.

Businesses must have an attorney appear for them in Court.

What forms do I need to start an L&T case?

Usually a NOTICE OF PETITION and a PETITION.

For Non-Payment proceedings

For Holdover proceedings

For other kinds of evictions, a NOTICE OF PETITION and PETITION would need to be drafted by an attorney.
How do I fill out these forms?

If you wish to proceed without an attorney, you will be responsible for preparing your papers in accordance with the law, without assistance from the court staff.

Forms must be completed using BLACK ink only and submitted in duplicate to the Court Clerk for signature. You must pay a filing fee and get an index number. The Court Clerk will assist you in setting a court date in order to ensure that Court will be in session.

A NOTICE OF PETITION must be issued by an attorney or the Court Clerk to compel the appearance of the tenant in Court. The Court Clerk will review your forms if you have no attorney and sign the NOTICE OF PETITION only if the papers are correct.

Do I need to do anything before I file papers with the Court?

Probably. There may be specific legal prerequisites to the institution of your proceeding to recover real property (such as a 3 day notice or 30 day notice). You should consult with an attorney or refer to the Real Property Law or Real Property Actions & Proceedings Law to be sure you have met all requirements.

A Non-payment Summary Proceeding usually is preceded by the landlord demanding that the tenant pay the rent, either in writing or orally.

A Holdover Summary Proceeding is usually preceded by the landlord informing the tenant to leave by a certain date, either in writing or orally.

How does the Tenant find out about the court date?

The landlord or the landlord's attorney finds a process server to serve a copy of the papers filed with the Court on each tenant.

Professional process servers may be found in the phone book or online. A copy of the papers must be served by someone over the age of 18, who is not a party to the action. Service must be in full compliance with the law.

The respondent/tenant must be given no less than 5 days notice and no more than 12 days notice of the court date. If the papers are handed directly to the tenant (personal delivery) the 5 day period is counted from the actual date of service. If the papers are served on the defendant by any other type of personal service, the 5 days are counted from the date the papers were filed with the Court along with proof of service.

After each tenant is served with a copy of the papers, the process server must swear on a form called an AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE as to how the the papers were served. Proof of service must be filed with the clerk within 3 days of effecting service.

What should I bring to Court on the court date?

Bring with you all evidence necessary to prove your claim or your defense. Anything that will help prove the facts in dispute should be brought to Court. This includes written agreements, leases, receipts and photographs. Originals (not photocopies) may be required, if available. All public documents must be certified by the agency producing such documents (a certification is a statement that the documents are true copies of an agency's records - the agency should be able to tell you how to get the records certified).

Landlords should bring:

  • the original or certified copy of the deed to the building
  • the lease or written agreement for the party you are suing, if there is one
  • certified copies of registration statements (like the town's rent registration, or a multiple dwelling registration statement)
  • your record keeping book
  • any other documents that are relevant to the claims you are making
  • witnesses (like a superintendent, manager, or mechanic who can testify as to attempts to gain access and/or attempts to repair conditions, if conditions are an issue)

Tenants should bring:

  • rent receipts, checks or other proof of rent payments
  • the lease or written agreement for the apartment, if you have one
  • photographs of any conditions you are claiming
  • heat charts, if heat is an issue and you kept a record
  • receipts or bills for any money you claim you spent
  • any other documents that are relevant to your defense or to the claims you are making
  • witnesses (like a friend or neighbor who has seen a condition complained of, if conditions are an issue)
What happens in Court on the court date?

Check to make sure your case is on the calendar, posted in the courthouse. You will need your index number to find the case on the calendar.

At the call of the calendar in the courtroom, identify yourself. If all parties are present, the Judge will probably request that you try to settle the case - a voluntary, binding agreement that resolves the differences between the parties to a lawsuit. It is put in writing in a document called a stipulation. In a settlement you can help determine the outcome of a case. However, no one can force you to settle a case. Also, no case should be settled unless and until the settlement has been reviewed by a Judge and you understand the terms of the agreement.

If you cannot settle the case, the Judge will have a hearing.

Generally, the landlord presents his or her case first. After being sworn as a witness, the landlord or the landlord’s managing agent will tell his or her version of the claims in the case. The landlord may offer certain documents into evidence. When the landlord or the person on the landlord’s behalf has finished testifying, the tenant has the right to ask questions. This is called cross-examination. Sometimes a Judge may ask some questions to clarify matters. Other witnesses can be presented in support of the landlord’s claims, and they, too can be cross-examined by the tenant or may be asked questions by the Judge.

The tenant will then be sworn as a witness and tell his or her side of the story and present evidence. When the tenant has finished testifying, the landlord has the right to cross-examine the tenant. Sometimes a Judge may ask some questions to clarify matters. Other witnesses can be presented in support of the tenant’s claims, and they, too, can be cross-examined by the landlord or may be asked questions by the Judge.

Parties to a lawsuit have a right to object to the introduction of evidence or the way a question is being asked or answered. The proper way to object is to say “objection.” The Judge may then ask what the basis for the objection is. If the Judge agrees with the objection, the Judge will say “sustained” and the evidence will not be admitted. If the Judge disagrees with the objection, the Judge will say “overruled” and the evidence will be admitted.

What happens at the conclusion of my L&T case?

If the landlord wins, a summary proceeding concludes with a judgment, which is a prerequisite for issuing a WARRANT OF EVICTION. A WARRANT OF EVICTION is comparable to an execution in a civil action. After a WARRANT OF EVICTION is issued by the court (you must request it - see below - and you receive it in the mail) you must file it with the Suffolk County Sheriff. The Suffolk County Sheriff must give at least 72 hours notice (a 72 HOUR NOTICE) before evicting a respondent from the premises.

How do I request a Judgment and Warrant?
Attorneys must file a proposed JUDGMENT OF POSSESSION (like the Blumberg T-1412, T-1413, or T-1414) and WARRANT OF EVICTION (like the Blumberg T-1408 or T-1409) with the Court Clerk. The Court will generate the appropriate papers. Attorneys may submit a proposed MONEY JUDGMENT and pay the fee for a TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT at the time the WARRANT and JUDGMENT are submitted, and the Clerk will issue the TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT to be used in enforcing any money judgment.

Self-represented landlords must Adobe Acrobat PDF Document request in writing that the court issue the JUDGMENT OF POSSESSION, WARRANT OF EVICTION, and TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT. If the tenant/respondent is in default, a non-military affidavit will be required. If a TRANSCRIPT OF JUDGMENT is requested the transcript fee must be paid when the request is filed with the Court Clerk.

Include a stamped self-addressed envelope with the proposed papers or written request. The Clerk will mail the papers to the attorney of record or if there is no attorney, to the self-represented landlord.

Can I evict my son / girlfriend / roommate?

The forms referred to above are intended for a landlord to evict a tenant. If the person you want to evict is not a tenant, or if you are not the landlord, you may be able to evict them, but not with these court forms. You may be able to evict someone other than a tenant if an attorney is able to draft papers and file the appropriate action (like those listed in RPAPL §713 and RPAPL §715).

Can a tenant bring a landlord to Court?

Yes, under certain circumstances, a tenant can bring a landlord to L&T Court. The NYS Attorney General's Tenants' Rights Guide has additional information.

  1. A tenant may bring a summary proceeding to recover possession of premises from which he or she has been forcibly put out or kept out (RPAPL §721(4)). A tenant must bring such a proceeding within three years of ouster (RPAPL §713(10)).
  2. New York Real Property Actions & Proceedings Article 7-A - (§§769 - 783) addresses special proceedings brought by tenants of dwellings in Suffolk County. Pursuant to RPAPL Article 7A, one third or more of tenants occupying a multiple dwelling located in Suffolk county may petition the Court to have an administrator appointed to manage the premises. This type of proceeding is complicated and retaining an attorney is suggested.

Your rights would best be protected with the assistance of an attorney. You can contact the Suffolk County Bar Association for a free or low-fee consult. You might also contact Nassau/Suffolk Law Services and Long Island Housing Services, Inc for assistance.

A tenant might sue a landlord in Small Claims Court if money is owed after the tenant has moved out of the rental.

I have been served with eviction papers. What do I do?

You must appear in court on the date and time stated in the Notice of Petition served on you.

If the eviction is based on the non-payment of rent, you may pay the landlord the full amount demanded in the petition. This will end the eviction proceeding.

If the petition is for non-payment of rent, please seePDF fileTenant Questions & Answers: Nonpayment Eviction Cases in New York State.

If you were served with a holdover petition, please seePDF fileTenant Questions & Answers: Holdover Eviction Cases in New York State.

Your rights would best be protected with the assistance of an attorney. You can contact the Suffolk County Bar Association for a free or low-fee consult. You might also contact Nassau/Suffolk Law Services and Long Island Housing Services, Inc for assistance.

What happens if I am a tenant and I do not appear in Court after receiving a NOTICE OF PETITION?

If the landlord or the landlord's attorney tells the Court you were served, and you do not appear as directed, the case will be decided without you, and you may have a DEFAULT JUDGMENT against you.

A WARRANT OF EVICTION may be issued.

A judgment for unpaid rent and fees may also be entered against you.

After the WARRANT OF EVICTION is filed with the Sheriff, a Deputy Sheriff will post a 72 HOUR NOTICE for you to leave the premises.

When the WARRANT OF EVICTION is enforced, the Sheriff will return and remove you and your personal property.

How do I ask a Judge to vacate a default judgment and stay my eviction?

Go to Court and submit a request for the Judge to sign an Order to Show Cause to Vacate a Landlord Tenant Judgment.

You can get these forms from

You must explain to the Judge in your papers that you have
  • a good reason for not appearing in Court, AND
  • a good defense to the lawsuit
Bring photocopies of documents that help you prove your arguments.

Post-Judgment & Other "After Court"

What is a judgment?

A judgment is the determination by a judge or arbitrator after a hearing or trial.

A judgment is generally for an amount of money. However, a judgment may also include a warrant of eviction, an order to perform a specific task, or it may be a judgment dismissing the matter.

Usually "having a judgment against you" means a money judgment from a court has been filed with the County Clerk.

What is default judgment?

A default judgment is ordered by the court if the defendant does not appear for trial.

A default judgment may also be entered by the clerk if the defendant fails to answer a summons.

A default judgment is fully enforceable and has the same effect as a judgment after trial.

I won a judgment! How do I collect it?

The Court Clerk cannot satisfy your judgment.

You (the Judgment Creditor) may contact the party you won the judgment against (the Judgment Debtor) and request payment.

If they are unwilling to pay, you may attempt to enforce the judgment (below).

How do I enforce a judgment?

You may request a document called a Transcript of Judgment from the Court Clerk for a fee. The Transcript of Judgment must be filed with the Suffolk County Clerk's Office. The County Clerk will collect a filing fee.

You may contact the Suffolk County Clerk's Office (631) 852-2000 ext 800 for information on how to obtain an Income Execution Form or a Property Execution Form. You will file the Execution Form with the Suffolk County Sheriff. Contact the Civil Bureau, Enforcement Division, Office of the Sheriff at (631) 852-5600. The office is at 360 Yaphank Ave Yaphank NY 11980.

The Sheriff will attempt to enforce the judgment based on the information and documents you file.

An Information Subpoena is used to discover the assets of a judgment debtor. An Information Subpoena is generally prepared by an attorney, though a self-represented or pro se litigant may obtain assistance from the Court Clerk where the judgment is entered in obtaining an Information Subpoena without the assistance of an attorney. Nominal Court Fees are charged for issuing an Information Subpoena.

Additional enforcement options may exist; contact an attorney to explore other options.

I just found out that I have a judgment against me. I did not know that I was being sued. What do I do?

If you feel that you do not owe all or part of the judgment, you may contact the court which issued the judgment. To ask the Judge to place the case back on the court's calendar (and contest the judgment in court) you may file an Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentOrder to Show Cause to vacate Landlord & Tenant default judgment or an Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentOrder to Show Cause to vacate a civil judgment with the Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentaffidavit in support of an Order to Show Cause to vacate a civil judgment.

If you feel that you owe the amount of the judgment, you should contact the attorney for the plaintiff to make arrangements to pay the judgment.

What is an Order to Show Cause?

An Order to Show Cause is a method that a party may use to request that the court reopen their case, usually after a default judgment has been entered. A default judgment can be entered if a defendant fails to answer a summons, or fails to appear for trial or hearing.

This process temporarily stops the enforcement of a judgment and sets a time for the plaintiff to challenge the defendant's request to start over.

An Order to Show Cause is commenced and answered in writing. If you are supposed to appear in court, the order will write on the order that personal appearance is required and testimony will be taken. If the court sets a new court date for trial, both sides will be notified by mail.

Forms to prepare an Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentOrder to Show Cause to vacate Landlord & Tenant judgment or a Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentOrder to Show Cause to vacate a civil judgment with the Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentaffidavit in support of an Order to Show Cause to vacate a civil judgment are available in the clerk's office where the judgment was entered.

Can I appeal?

You may appeal an order or judgment of the court provided that the order or judgment was not obtained by default.

An arbitrator's award cannot be appealed, but you may request a trial de novo before a judge.

A default judgment cannot be appealed, but a party in default may request that the action be restored by Order to Show Cause (see above).

To file an appeal, you must prepare and serve a Adobe Acrobat PDF Document Notice of Appeal on the opposing parties, and then file the Notice of Appeal with the Court Clerk (in the court where the order or judgment was entered) with proof of service. A fee is required for filing the Notice of Appeal on a Civil, Landlord-Tenant, Small Claim or Commercial Small Claim action. 

An appeal can be a complicated process. There are specific time frames for completing the appeal prior to sending it to the Appellate Term. Additionally, the appeal may require oral argument before the Judges of the Appellate Term.  The Court Clerk recommends consulting or hiring an attorney to assist you.

Criminal Court

When does the Clerk's Office open for business?

The public windows (located on the 2nd floor of the Cohalan Court Complex) open for business Monday - Friday at 8:30 a.m. All business must be commenced by 4:30 p.m.

When and where are arraignments held?

When and where are arraignments held?

Arraignments of defendants "in-custody" (arrested and held by the police) are conducted every day of the year in Courtroom D-11 at 9:30 AM. Arraignments of defendants given Desk Appearance Tickets or Field Appearance Tickets are conducted regular court days in the scheduled "Street Arraignment" (SAP) courtrooms.

Violations of Town Ordinances or Town Codes are arraigned on certain days of the week in the outlying courthouses.

 

When is my next court date?

Your next court date was written on a blue "Notice to Appear" form at your last court date.

If you know the name of the defendant, or the docket number of the case, use WebCrims. This system does not show Bench or Arrest Warrants or finished cases.

To search by name, you need to know at least the first three letters of the defendants last name and the first two letters of the defendants first name. When searching by "calendar," choose "Criminal Court" for Court field, use the courtroom number for Court Part field (for example, D31 or D44), not the Judge Name.

If you think the case is still open, and you cannot find the next date with WebCrims, you should call the court at 631 853 7500 to speak to court staff during normal business hours, or see below regarding vacating warrants.

Can I get a new court date by phone?

No. Adjournment requests are not considered by phone, fax or e-mail.

I really cannot get to court on my court date. What can I do?

Unless the Judge has excused your appearance, you are required to appear at each and every court date. If you do not appear, the judge may issue a warrant for your immediate arrest.

If an emergency requires you to miss your upcoming court date, you may write a letter to the Judge explaining your situation (send a copy to the District Attorney's Office). The Judge may consider your note when your case is called, and may adjourn your case to another day and not issue a warrant. You might be notified by mail of the new court date.

I don't think I can afford an attorney. How can I get Legal Aid?

You may ask the Judge on your court date to assign a Legal Aid Society attorney to represent you. Generally, you are eligible for free Legal representation if you fall below the US Department of Health & Human Services Poverty Guidelines.

How can I vacate a warrant?

You may request to voluntarily vacate a warrant by submitting an
Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentApplication to Vacate District Court Warrant (form DC-320-A) to the Clerk's Office public information windows before 11:00 AM any regular business day. A list (the "warrant vacate" calendar) is posted at the 2nd floor waiting area (usually before noon), and you must appear in the courtroom indicated to vacate the warrant.

If the warrant is for Town Ordinance violation (which are calendared in the outlying District Court courthouses), for County Court, or for a Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentTown or Village Court in Suffolk County, you must go to that courthouse to voluntarily vacate your warrant.

Can I view a Court Calendar online?

Anyone can view today's calendared cases and any future calendars on the WebCrims site. Log in as Guest.

Past calendars are not available to the public on the internet. Other agencies may view completed calendars through our secure site.

What are my rights as a crime victim or witness?

Many innocent persons or their dependents may suffer disability, incur financial hardships, become dependent upon public assistance, or suffer personal physical injury or death as a result of criminal acts. Aid, care and support is provided by the state for such victims of crime, through the New York State Crime Victims Board.

More information about the rights of a crime victim and witnesses ...

What are my rights as a victim of Domestic Violence?

The resources available in your community for information relating to domestic violence, treatment of injuries, and places of safety and shelters can be accessed by calling the following toll-free numbers for the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-942-6906 (in Spanish: 1-800-942-6908).

More information about the rights of a victim of Domestic Violence ...

How do I get an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection is a court order requiring a person to refrain from doing certain acts against another person.

If you are a victim or a witness, you should contact the District Attorney's Office.

In District Court, a criminal action must be filed with the court (which usually means the defendant was arrested or given an appearance ticket, and the complaints were filed with the court by the police). A victim or witness may request an order of protection when the person is arraigned - the District Attorney in the courtroom will need to know before the arraignment that you want an Order of Protection.

If you need an Order of Protection and the person was issued an appearance ticket (released from the police and told to appear on a future date for arraignment in court), get a copy of the police report and complaint from the officer or the precinct, and inform the police that you want an Order of Protection. The police will need to file paperwork with the court before you can get an Order of Protection from the court.

If you need an Order of Protection and the person was not arrested or not charged with any crime or offense, call the police to file a complaint. If you are related to or live with the person, you might be a victim of Domestic Violence.

What are my rights as a Victim of Domestic Violence?

How can I change the conditions of my Order of Protection?

If you are the defendant (the enjoined party on an Order of Protection), and your case is still pending, and you want to change the conditions of an Order of Protection, you must consult with your attorney.

If you are a witness or victim (a protected party on an Order of Protection), and the case is still pending, and you want to modify the conditions on an Order of Protection, you must contact the District Attorney's Office (See also What are my rights as a Victim of Domestic Violence?)

If the defendant was convicted, pled guilty, or otherwise has an order of protection and no future court date, and you want to modify the terms of the order of protection, you may submit a written request to the court - appear at window #2 in room D220 in the Cohalan Court Complex during normal business hours. Based on your written request, the case will be restored to the calendar for a future date, when the judge will decide if the Order of Protection should be modified.

How can I post bail?

Once the Court has set bail, bail must be posted in one of the forms ordered (usually cash or insurance company bail bond), and in the amount set, in order to get out of jail.

Search a list of Bail Bond agents may be found at the NY State Department of Financial Services website.

A credit card (Visa or MasterCard) may be used to post bail if the Court specifically authorizes credit card bail.

The Sheriff's Office may be able to assist the defendant post bail from money carried at the time of arrest. Bail Expeditors at the jail may be able to help the defendant contact someone to post bail. Family or friends may post bail in the courthouse if the defendant is still in the courthouse. If the defendant is on the way to, or is already at the jail, bail must be posted at the jail.

How do I get bail money back?

Once the court case is disposed (when the case is dismissed, or the defendant is convicted and sentenced), and the defendant made all court appearances as directed, bail is exonerated and returned to the person who posted the bail, minus a 3% fee. The process generally takes eight weeks after the case is disposed and the money is returned. Bail money is returned from the Suffolk County Treasurer.

If the defendant did not appear in court as directed, and a warrant was issued, bail was forfeited. You might be able to get the bail money back if the Court orders the bail remitted after a Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentCPL540.30 motion.

How can I make payment of a fine?

You may pay fines, surcharges, and fees:

  • by mail by timely mailing a check or money order payable to the Clerk of the District Court. If your check is not honored by the bank, there will be an additional $20 fee and the immediate entry of a default judgment.
  • in person at the courthouse on or before the "to pay" date at window 5, 6, or 7 in room D220 (on the second floor) by cash, check, or credit card (Visa or MasterCard - with photo identification).
Can I get additional time to pay a fine?

Generally, yes. Depending on the sentencing judge, you might need to appear in the courtroom to ask the judge for more time to pay.

What happens if I do not pay the fine or fees?

Generally, if you do not pay the fine or fee, the Court (on behalf of the People of the State of New York) enters a judgment against you in the County Clerk's office and suspends your drivers license.

The court may also issue a warrant for your arrest.

If you do not pay a fine imposed by the court, within the time ordered, you may be imprisoned.

If you are unable to pay a fine, you may ask the court, to be resentenced.

The Court may not waive certain surcharges or fees. You may tell the court that payment of the surcharges or fees will be an unreasonable hardship on you or your immediate family, and the court may defer payment and enter a civil judgment.

You may be imprisoned for up to fifteen days for your failure to pay certain surcharges and fees.

If you do not pay what you owe, or if you do not appear in court to request more time to pay, a civil judgment against you will be entered and docketed with the Suffolk County Clerk (or the Clerk of the County in which you reside), and your drivers license may be suspended, and a warrant may be issued for your arrest.

 

How do I get an official record of what happened to my court case?

You might need a Certificate of Disposition or a Certified Transcript. You can buy one from the court by coming to the courthouse - bring photo identification, $5, and as much information about the case you can get (case or docket number, date of disposition, offenses charged, date of arrest, copies of charges, etc).

You may also request a Certificate of Disposition or a Certified Transcript by mail - follow the instructions on form Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentDC-411.

If the case was sealed, you may need additional paperwork, for example,

  • if you were adjudicated a Youthful Offender, you need a Court Order to release the transcript - submit Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentform DC-75 with DC-411 ;
  • if your case was terminated in your favor and sealed (like after an acquittal or dismissal), and you want a Certified Transcript of Certificate of Disposition mailed to you, you need to submit Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentform DC-412 with DC-411;
  • if the case was sealed after an acquittal or dismissed and sealed, and you want to authorize someone to be your agent to access the sealed records, you need to submit Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentform DC-413 with DC-411 .
How do I appeal?

Within 30 days from the date of sentence, you or your attorney must file 2 copies of a Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentNotice of Appeal with the Appeals Clerk, Suffolk County District Court, 400 Carleton Avenue, Central Islip NY 11722; and you must serve one copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentNotice of Appeal on the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, Appeals Bureau, Cromarty Criminal Court Complex, 200 Center Drive, Riverhead, NY 11901.

If you appeared before the court pro se (without an attorney, self-represented, or on your own behalf), and you timely indicate in writing to the Clerk of the Court (see the bottom of the Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentform DC-16) a desire to appeal, the Clerk will prepare and serve and file an appropriate notice on your behalf.

You have the right, upon proof of your financial inability to retain counsel and to pay the costs and expenses of the appeal, to apply to the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court, for the assignment of counsel, for leave to prosecute the appeal as a poor person, and to dispense with printing costs.

Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentWritten instructions for perfecting a criminal appeal are available from the Appellate Term Clerks Office. You must perfect your appeal within 120 days from the date of sentence.

How do I get a verbatim transcript of a court proceeding?

(A verbatim transcript is a printed version of everything said at a court proceeding. A clerk's transcript of judgment is a court form, usually filed with the county clerk to collect money from a person).

When requesting a verbatim transcript, you should have the

  • name of the case,
  • case number,
  • location of the proceeding, and
  • date of the proceeding,
  • and time stamp or meter reading of the proceeding (if a digital recording machine was used).

Most court proceedings are recorded either by a Court Reporter sitting in the courtroom writing down what is said in the courtroom or by a digital recording machine.

To have a transcript produced of a District Court proceeding which was recorded by a Court Reporter:

  • tell the reporter at the proceeding that you need a transcript, or
  • call the court reporters office (631)853-5418, or
  • fax your request to the court reporters office (631) 853-7854 .

To have a transcript produced of an electronically recorded court proceeding, you may contact one of the transcription services listed on the list of Electronic Recording Transcription Services. This PDF filelist of transcription services may also be found at courthouse public information windows.

These services are not employees of the Unified Court System, they are independent contractors and establish their own rates - price per page varies. They will either take the required information and contact the Court, or ask you to contact the court and arrange to have the recording sent to the contractor.

If you have any questions regarding a verbatim transcript from a Suffolk County District Court matter, please contact: Ron Gorman, Supervising Court Reporter, (631) 853-5418.

What is a Certificate of Relief from Civil Disabilities and how can I get one?

A certificate of relief from civil disabilities relieves an "eligible offender" of forfeitures, disabilities, or bars to employment automatically imposed be law by reason of a conviction of a specified crime or offense.

You may apply to the State Parole Board (if you are on parole) or the court where you were sentenced for a certificate. More information, including an DPCA-52 Application for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities.

How can I get a Criminal History Report?

The New York State Office of Court Administration provides a statewide criminal history record search, based on exact match of name and date of birth. The search includes data from all 62 counties pertaining to convictions and open or pending cases in the City, District, County and Supreme criminal courts. Town & Village criminal information is limited.

If you are a defendant, you or your attorney may apply for a NYS Record Review from the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services (518 485-7675).

You may request a Suffolk County Criminal Records Search for yourself or someone else through the Suffolk Police Department's Central Records (631 852-6015).

How do I schedule a video conference with a defendant in jail?

Call 852-3356 - the Suffolk County Sheriff's Office.

Attorneys may schedule video conferences the same day with as little as 30 minutes notice, or for a future date, at half hour intervals from 8:30 AM until 3:30 PM, from Cohalan Court Complex in Central Islip or the Cromarty Court Complex in Riverhead.

Defendants in Riverhead Jail can be brought to the video conference booth in as little as 30 minutes. A conference with a defendant in the Yaphank facility requires 24 hour notice.

Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentSchedule a video conference with an inmate at the Jail Apr 23 08.

 

How can I waive the production of my client from the jail?

Attorneys of record may request their incarcerated client is produced in court "paperwork only" (the defendant will not be transported
to the courthouse for the court appearance) by faxing the Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentDC-423 form: Notice of appearance and waiver of production to (631) 853-7599.

May students observe arraignments or trials?
Yes, unless the Judge has sealed the courtroom, the public may observe any criminal proceeding in any District Court courtroom.  If you are interested in a jury trial, check with the central jury room on the 2nd floor, District Court building, and ask one of the staff if there is a jury trial scheduled.  If you want to observe arraignments of defendants that are in police custody, go to courtroom D11 on the first (ground) floor.

When you enter a courtroom, try to get the attention of the Court Clerk or a Court Officer and explain that you are observing for a class project.

Reading the criminal justice system handbook and this criminal court FAQ page before you come to court will help you understand what is going on in the courtroom.

Parking Tickets

When does the Clerk's Office open for business?

The public windows (located on the 2nd floor of the Cohalan Court Complex) open for business Monday - Friday at 8:30 a.m. All business must be commenced by 4:30 p.m.

When must I appear in court?

Your parking ticket will tell you the last date that you must answer your ticket, either by mail or in person. If you come to the courthouse on or before that date, you will speak to a clerk and either get a trial date or plead guilty.

If you have not answered your parking ticket by the date written on the ticket, the court will mail a notice to you giving you a date that you must respond.

If you do not respond a default sentence will be imposed against you, and a judgment filed with the clerk of your county of residence as a lien, and your license and registration may be suspended by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

How can I get a new court date?

You may mail a request for a new court date. Address your correspondence to Parking Division Clerk, 1st District Court, 400 Carleton Avenue, Central Islip NY 11722

Can I view a Court Calendar or case information online?

Not at this time - the parking calendars are not available online (calendars and case information for criminal court cases - heard in the same District Court building in Central Islip - are available on the WebCrims site. Log in as Guest).

Past calendars are not available to the public on the internet. Other agencies may view completed calendars for the entire District Court through our secure site.

How do I plead "guilty" and pay my fine?

Indicate guilty on the back of the ticket, sign the ticket and carefully print your name and address, and include payment. The parking ticket should indicate the set fine amount. If it does not, look up the minimum fine acceptable for the section of law violated in the chart below.

Indicate the ticket number on your check or money order, payable to the “First District Court.” Do not send cash.

Dishonored checks will result in the immediate entry of a default judgment with an additional $20 returned check fee.

At this time there is no way to pay "online" or by telephone.

You may pay the fine by credit card by appearing in person with photo identification.

MINIMUM FINE ACCEPTABLE FOR PARKING OFFENSES
Vehicle & Traffic Law (VTL) section
Fine
306(b) uninspected vehicle under 60 days
$50
306(b) uninspected vehicle over 60 days
$90
375 parking equipment violation
$50
385(3)(e) parked trailer on residential street
$200
402(1) improper plates
$50
402(3) unregistered trailer
$100
402(6) unregistered vehicle
$100
403 proper registration sticker not affixed
$50
403-a false temporary registration
$100
411.1 parked motorcycle on public highway without a license plate
$50
1100(c) blocked handicapped access non-shopping centers only
$90
1111 disobey pavement markings
$50
any 1200 . . . . . . . . . . . .
$50
any 1201 . . . . . . . . . . . .
$50
any 1202 . . . . . . . . . . . .
$50
1203(a) parking/stopped/standing 12 inches from curb or improper angle parking
$50
1203(b) parking/stopped/standing 12 inches from curb or improper angle parking
$50
1203(c) parked in wrong direction
$50
1203(d)1 parked on highway for sale
$50
1203(d)2 parked on highway for non-emergency repair
$50
1203-b(2) handicapped parking no permit - street or non-shopping center parking lot
$120
1203-c(4) handicapped parking no permit - blocking access to handicapped parking - shopping center or strip mall
$230
2264.1 improper plate, limited use vehicle
$50
 
Parks Recreation & Historic Preservation Law
(PRL or PRHPL or NYCRR 9) section
Fine
any 378.1 any parking violation in a State Park
$50

 

How do I plead "not guilty" by mail?

Indicate “not guilty” on the back of your ticket, sign the ticket and carefully print your name and address.

Mail the ticket to the court as specified on the ticket. You will be notified of a date for pretrial conference and/or trial.

Your not guilty plea must be postmarked within 48 hours of the time the ticket was issued. If the plea is not timely you will be notified of a date to appear to enter a plea in person.

Other than as allowed for handicapped parking tickets below, you may not submit proof by mail. All proof that you are “not guilty” must be presented in court, in person, while you are under oath before a judicial officer of this court.

I was ticketed for parking in handicapped parking, but I have a valid handicapped parking permit. Can't I submit something to the court?

Yes. If you received a parking ticket for illegally parking in a handicapped parking space, and at that time the driver or a passenger had a valid handicapped parking permit for the vehicle, you can submit an Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentEx parte motion to dismiss handicapped parking ticket, supporting affidavit, and consent to adjudication by a Judicial Hearing Officer (JHO) (form DC-422). With the form, along with a photocopy of the ticket, you must include

  • a photocopy of the permit,
  • a letter from the town or other issuing agency stating that the handicapped permit was valid on the date the ticket was issued,
  • a photocopy of the permit holder's driver’s license (or some other photo identification if unlicensed), and a
  • a self-addressed stamped envelope.

The form is an affidavit and must be sworn to and signed in the presence of a notary or a court clerk. The submitted form is treated as a motion to dismiss the ticket. The court will notify you by mail if the motion was granted and the ticket was dismissed, or if the motion was denied and you must appear on a future date.

How can I pay a parking fine?

You may pay fines, surcharges, and fees:

  • by timely mailing your parking ticket with your plea of guilty and either a check or money order payable to the Clerk of the District Court. If your check is not honored by the bank, there will be an additional $20 fee and the immediate entry of a default judgment.
  • in person at the courthouse on or before the "to pay" date at window 5, 6, or 7 in room D220 (on the second floor) by cash, check, money order or credit card (Visa or MasterCard - with photo identification).
Can I get additional time to pay a fine?

Generally, yes. Depending on the sentencing judge, you might need to appear in the courtroom to ask for more time to pay.

What happens if I do not pay the parking fine?

Generally, if you do not pay the fine, the Court (in the name of the People of the State of New York) enters a judgment against you in the County Clerk's office.

The court may also suspend your drivers license and your vehicle registration.

How do I get an official record of what happened to my court case?

You might need a Certificate of Disposition or a Certified Transcript. You can buy one from the court by coming to the courthouse - bring photo identification, $5, and as much information about the case you can get (case or docket number, date of disposition, offenses charged, date of arrest, copies of charges, etc).

You may also request a Certificate of Disposition or a Certified Transcript by mail - follow the instructions on form Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentDC-411.

If the case was sealed, you may need additional paperwork, for example,

  • if your case was terminated in your favor and sealed (like after an acquittal or dismissal), and you want a Certified Transcript of Certificate of Disposition mailed to you, you need to submitAdobe Acrobat PDF Document form DC-412 with DC-411
  • if the case was sealed after an acquittal or dismissed and sealed, and you want to authorize someone to be your agent to access the sealed records, you need to submitAdobe Acrobat PDF Document form DC-413 with DC-411.
How do I appeal?

You or your attorney must file 2 copies of a Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentNotice of Appeal with the Appeals Clerk, Suffolk County District Court, 400 Carleton Avenue, Central Islip NY 11722, and you must serve one copy of the Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentNotice of Appeal on the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Appeals Bureau, Cromarty Criminal Court Complex, 200 Center Drive, Riverhead, NY 11901, within 30 days from the date of sentence.

If you appeared before the court pro se (without an attorney, self-represented, or on your own behalf), and you timely indicate in writing to the Clerk of the Court a desire to appeal (see the bottom of the Adobe Acrobat PDF Documentform DC-16), the Clerk will prepare and serve and file an appropriate notice on your behalf.

You have the right, upon proof of your financial inability to retain counsel and to pay the costs and expenses of the appeal, to apply to the Appellate Term of the Supreme Court, for the assignment of counsel, for leave to prosecute the appeal as a poor person, and to dispense with printing costs.

Adobe Acrobat PDF DocumentWritten instructions for perfecting a criminal appeal are available from the Appellate Term Clerks Office. You must perfect your appeal within 120 days from the date of sentence.