State or Federal Case?

Happened across a Facebook post from a presumably newer reporter who was unsure what stipulations to put in the transcript because the caption said Supreme Court of the State of New York. This is not the first time this has been confused and won’t be the last. I first learned about this in a paralegal law 101 class about 9 years ago, so bear with me.

Simply put, the New York State Unified Court System, the state court with state stips, is comprised of many, many different courts all at different levels. The Supreme Court of the State of New York is actually a lower court, or what’s called a trial court. Cases decided in Supreme Court are subject to review and appeal by the New York State Court of Appeals. Things that happen in the Supreme Court of the State of New York follow the CPLR (Civil Prectice Law and Rules) or CPL (Criminal Procedure Law). They also follow other state laws. 

Now federally we have the United States District Courts. Those are the trial courts on the federal level. In New York you have and will see mostly depositions from the Southern District of New York and Eastern District of New York. There are, again, higher courts that hear appeals from the district courts, and at the highest level of appeal is the Supreme Court of the United States, also referred to as SCOTUS colloquially.  Federal matters follow the FRCP, also known as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Did you catch that? So there is a Supreme Court of New York, which is a lower trial court, and a Supreme Court of the United States, which is the highest level of appellate courts in the United States. It is important not to confuse the two. But here is an easy way to remember: It’s basically impossible to have a deposition captioned under the Supreme Court of the United States. SCOTUS is an appellate court where depositions and trials have already happened. So if you’re in New York and see the words Supreme Court on a caption, it’s basically always going to be referring to the Supreme Court of the State of New York, a state court following state laws.