County Courts

Under New York law, each county outside New York City has a County Court, Family Court, Supreme Court and Surrogate's Court, with one or more judges elected for ten-year terms. The Court system is administered by the Unified Court System which is a New York State Agency. All Court employees are employed by the State of New York.

New York State Unified Court System

The County Court hears all crimes and violations of law committed within the County, although misdemeanors and traffic infractions are handled by the local justice courts.

The Family Court hears a variety of cases involving children and families, including custody, visitation, juvenile delinquency, child protection, adoptions, paternity, support, and others. Family Court started processing adoptions in 1995 and continues.

Surrogate's Court has jurisdiction over actions and proceedings of decedents, including the probate of wills, intestate estates, small estates, ancillary proceedings, disputed claims, discovery proceedings, accountings, compromise and settlement of wrongful death actions, guardianships of the person and property of an infant and Article 17A guardianships. The Surrogate's Court processed adoptions from 1943-1995.

Supreme Court handles most civil cases such as negligence cases, divorces, contract and breach of warranty cases. Supreme Court cases are heard by Supreme Court justices elected for a 14 year term from the Seventh Judicial District, of which Steuben County is a part, or by county judges who are designated to act as Supreme Court justices.