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Welcome to the 2005 New York State Supreme Court Voter Guide.

The Judiciary, along with the Executive and the Legislature, is one of the three co-equal branches of the New York State government. New York State courts hear more than four million cases a year, including: family matters, personal injury claims, commercial disputes, trust and estate issues, criminal cases, and landlord-tenant matters. Every one of these cases is important to the individual parties involved; many have implications for the larger community as well.

All cases start in the trial courts. Trial courts are divided into two types, those of limited jurisdiction or authority and those of superior jurisdiction. The trial courts of limited jurisdiction include: Civil Court and Criminal Court of New York City; and District Courts, City Courts, and Town and Village Courts outside New York City. The trial courts of superior jurisdiction are the Supreme Court and County Courts.

The Supreme Court is a statewide trial court. Justices of the Supreme Court are elected to 14-year terms. The Supreme Court generally hears cases outside the authority of the lower courts, such as civil matters involving claims beyond $25,000 and divorce, separation and annulment proceedings. In addition, the Supreme Court within New York City handles the criminal prosecution of felonies. Outside New York City, the County Courts hear felony cases.

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