APPEALING A SMALL CLAIMS, COMMERCIAL CLAIM, SUMMARY PROCEEDING or CIVIL COURT DECISION
(§1703 UCCA; § 5515 CPLR, § 210.38 Uniform Rules)
If either party to a Small Claim, Commercial Claim, Summary Proceeding or Civil action believes that a Plattsburgh City Court decision is legally incorrect, he/she may appeal to a Judge of the Clinton County Court. You should read the following in its entirety before proceeding with an appeal.
Scope of Appeal
Before deciding to appeal the decision, you should consider:
- Taking an appeal will involve additional expense including, but not limited to, a filing fee with the City Court at the time you file your Notice of Appeal. Other expenses may include the cost of the transcript of the trial or hearing and, if you choose, the cost of hiring an attorney to represent you on the appeal.
- You may appeal the decision of the judge if you believe justice was not done. Technical errors made during the trial are not grounds for reversal. The County Court will consider only whether substantial justice was done. County Court has no authority to retry your case, or to consider any facts other than those presented at the City Court trial or hearing. County Court cannot review any evidence that was not presented to the City Court, nor, except in a very rare case, will the County Court interfere with the credibility assessments made by the City Court.
- A Judge of the County Court is permitted to review only how the Judge in the City Court decided the matter; that is, whether the Judge in the City Court correctly applied the law and whether "substantial justice" (not complete justice or perfect justice) was done between the parties. This very limited scope of review results in a reversal or modification of only those judgments that clearly deviate from the substantive law, not those on which another court might simply have decided differently.
- If a default judgment was taken against you because you failed to appear for the City Court hearing, that judgment cannot be appealed. Instead, you must make a motion in City Court to “vacate the default.” To make such a motion, an affidavit under oath must be prepared that (1) states the reason why you failed to appear in Court on the scheduled date and (2) clearly sets forth your defense to the claim. This affidavit must be sworn to before a Notary Public and then provided to the other party. An Affidavit of Service by Mail must be completed and filed with the Court to attest that the motion/affidavit was served on the other party. If the motion is denied, that denial can then be appealed.
- Even if you file an appeal you are still required to pay the judgment unless you file an undertaking with the Court. Filing the undertaking,in the amount of the Judgment, will stay the enforcement proceedings until the appeal has been decided.
You may be permitted to "proceed as a poor person" and have the filing fee waived or have the transcripts paid for by the county and/or for assignment of an attorney for the appeal:
To request that the costs of the filing fee or of the transcripts be paid by the county and/or for assignment of an attorney, you will need to file a "poor person" application with the County Court pursuant to CPLR sec. 1101. If granted by the County Court, you will need to supply the City Court with the Order from the County Court.
Notice of Appeal
This is the form to use for the short, written statement to the Court stating that you are appealing. Filing the Notice of Appeal with the City Court is the first step, but is not the appeal itself. You will have an opportunity to provide the County Court with your written arguments only after the transcript of the City Court proceedings has been prepared and the City Court has filed the Return on Appeal (the City Court file) with the County Court. The specific procedures for an appeal are listed below.
There are strict time limits for filing a Notice of Appeal and "perfecting" or completing the appeal.
- The time to file a Notice of Appeal with the City Court is generally 30 days from the date of entry of the judgment in City Court.
- However, in Small Claim or Commercial Claims cases only, it may be 35 days, if the Notice of Judgment is mailed instead of personally served.
- There are other deadlines for submitting the transcript and “perfecting” your appeal with County Court.
1. Appellant prepares an original and three copies of the Notice of Appeal
2. Appellant serves respondent with one copy of the Notice of Appeal. (CPLR 5515.1).
3. Appellant completes an Affidavit of Service.
4. Appellant files the original plus one copy of the Notice of Appeal and the Affidavit of Service with the City Court. Appellant pays the filing fee at City Court by cash, certified check or money order (UCCA 1911(a)(6). If Poor Person status is requested, no filing fees will be collected now. The Appellant will be required to take a stamped copy of the Notice of Appeal AND their Application for Poor Person Status to the County Court for filing. County Court will decide poor person status and notify City Court. If your application is denied, you will be required to pay the filing fee if you wish to proceed with your Appeal.
5. Appellant completes the "Request for Copy of Recorded Proceeding" indicating which transcriptionist he/she wishes to use and submits the Request with a blank compact disk.
6. City Court copies the digital recording onto the compact disk and forwards the recording to the transcriptionist with cover letter. It is the appellant’s responsibility to contact the transcriptionist and arrange for payment.
7. Upon receipt of the typed transcript from the transcriptionist, City Court sends a letter to Appellant advising that they have 15 days from the date the transcript was received to review the transcript and advise of any proposed amendments to it. UCCA 1704(a)
8. Appellant must forward a copy of the transcript and any proposed amendments to the Respondent within the 15 days, with an Affidavit of Service to the City Court. The proposed amendments are alleged errors in the accuracy of the transcript, not your argument on the Appeal.
9. Within 15 days of receipt of the Appellant’s proposed amendments and the transcript, the other party must review the transcript and proposed amendments (if any) and respond in writing to the Appellant and the City Court with agreements or disagreements concerning the accuracy of the transcript.
- Even if there are no proposed amendments, the Appellant must still serve the Respondent with a copy of the transcript, and file an Affidavit of Service with the Court.
10. If both the Appellant and the Respondent agree with the Transcript, and there are no proposed amendments, the parties may stipulate that the transcript and all other documents are correct.
11. If the parties do not agree on the wording of the transcript, the Court Clerk must schedule, with at least 4 days notice, an appearance with the City Court Judge. The purpose of this appearance is for the parties and the Judge to resolve any differences concerning the transcript or to the amendments. Judge will “settle” the record and sign the Return within 5 days.
12. City Court Clerk files the Return (City Court file) with the County Court Clerk.
13. At this point, the appeal will be decided by the County Court. If you wish to file additional documentation or written arguments in support of the appeal with the County Court, you should contact the County Court Clerk's office at 137 Margaret Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901 for information on the procedure and time frames for submitting additional documents. Anything which you provide to the County Court must always also be provided to the opposing party.
14. If, after you have started an appeal, you change your mind and wish to discontinue or withdraw the appeal, you must notify both the City Court and the County Court, in writing. You should also notify the opposing party that you will not be proceeding with the appeal. You will still be responsible for any costs associated with the appeal up to that point, including payment to the transcriptionist for any portion of the transcript which has already been prepared.
15. After the appeal has been decided by the County Court, a copy of that decision will be mailed to you at the most recent address on file with the County Court.
NOTE: You may visit the Supreme Court Library located in your county for legal references on the filing of a civil appeal. Court personnel cannot provide legal advice. The Clinton County Supreme Court Law Library is located at 72 Clinton Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901.