Some General Instructions
- COURT-the times given on this page are for the regular sessions of the Court. At such regular sessions, the Court will begin criminal cases with a short “arraignment” proceeding and schedule other matters.
- “PRE-TRIAL” – the times given above for “pre-trials” are the nights on which an Assistant District Attorney (“ADA”) – a lawyer representing the County District Attorney’s Office — is present to discuss the status of on-going criminal proceedings.
- DRESS WELL FOR COURT – Court is “game time” – dress for it! Wear “Sunday best” or, at least, clean, conservative clothes – jeans and a dress shirt, a conservative dress or similar clothes are always appropriate!
LATE? CAN NOT APPEAR IN COURT? If you are asking us to go to Court for you, please remember it is important to appear ON TIME for all court appearances unless we tell you that your appearance is not necessary. If you even think you may miss a Court date, please call us to let us know the reason. If you cannot reach us – and ONLY if you cannot reach us – then call the Court and advise the Court -the Court telephone numbers are here on our “Information on Our Local Courts” page. It is NEVER acceptable to fail to appear in Court — the Court looks upon such failures badly and will, justifiably, see the failure as evidence that you do not take the proceeding seriously and, therefore, see little reason to give you the relief you seek.
General Information on Local Courts
1) For civil actions (two people suing each other), the Court which will hear the case depends on the dollar amount sought by the parties. Cases up to $3,000 are heard in town or village court, cases between $3,000 and $50,000 are heard in County Court, and cases beyond $50,000 are heard in the New York State Supreme Court (New York’s trial-level court). Evictions are generally heard in town and village courts. City Court is like the town and village court and handles many of the same kinds of actions but can hear cases with values of up to $10,000.
2) For criminal or traffic actions, misdemeanors or violations are prosecuted in town or village court. Felonies are prosecuted in the County Court.
3) Divorces are actions in the Supreme Court while custody, visitation and support are all actions in the Family Court.
4) Occasionally, you may find that you know the judge on your case. If you know a judge, do not try to discuss your case with the judge before appearing in Court – not only do rules governing judicial behavior frown on such discussions but judges do not like being “put on the spot” any more than you do!
5) Please note that local County, Family, Surrogate and Supreme Courts are not listed as these courts prefer to work with the public through their attorneys unless you are proceeding without a lawyer. If there is a need to advise those courts of a delay in your appearance or inability to appear, you can find their telephone numbers in the telephone directory under “Tompkins County”, “Cortland County,” or “Cayuga County.”