The New York City court system consists of civil, criminal, and family courts. All have a presence in each borough and have city-wide jurisdiction. Unlike the rest of New York State, New York City does not have typical County Courts. Instead, New York City courts have jurisdiction in the five counties that are coterminuous with the five boroughs.
New York's court system is very complex, and contains vestiges of long-forgotten jurisdictions. The courts are creatures of the State government. The court of basic general jurisdiction is State Supreme Court, which hears felonies and major misdemeanors, significant lawsuits, and governmental and elections matters. The court is divided into judicial districts and exists independent of the City government.
The New York City Civil Court handles all small claims cases (up to $5,000) and all civil cases in the city with a monetary value up to $25,000, as well as residential and commercial landlord-tenant disputes. Judges of the Civil Court are elected to 10 year terms in either borough-wide or district elections
The New York City Criminal Court is the beginning level trial court of criminal cases in the city. The court handles arraignments, misdemeanors, and minor felony cases. Criminal motions are also handled in this court, along with some jury trials. Major felony cases are referred to the New York State Supreme Court. Judges of the Criminal Court are appointed by the Mayor to 10 year terms.
The New York City Family Court hears matters involving children and families. Its jurisdiction includes custody and visitation, support, family offense (domestic violence), persons in need of supervision, delinquency, child protective proceedings (abuse and neglect), foster care approval and review, termination of parental rights, adoption and guardianship. Judges of the Family Court are appointed by the Mayor to 10 year terms. Justice Jane Bolin became the first black female judge in the United States when Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia swore her in to the bench of the Family Court, then called the Domestic Relations Court, in 1939.