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public officer to do his duty, which he has refused to do; and also an order, called an Injunction, restraining a per son from doing some illegal or injurious act.
County Courts.-The County Court in each county has original jurisdiction of all criminal actions, in which the crimes were committed in the county and in which the death penalty cannot be imposed (except in Kings County, where the County Court has that jurisdiction also.) Its jurisdiction in civil cases is provided for by the Constitution as follows:
County Courts shall have . . original jurisdiction in actions for the recovery of money only, where the defendants reside in the county, and in which the complaint demands judgment for a sum not exceeding two thousand dollars. The Legislature may hereafter enlarge or restrict the jurisdiction of the County Courts, provided, however, that their jurisdiction shall not be so extended as to authorize an action therein for the recovery of money only, in which the sum demanded exceeds two thousand dollars, or in which any person not a resident of the county is a defendant.
Courts of Sessions [see page 12], except in the county of New York, are abolished All the jurisdiction of the Court of Sessions in each county, except the county of New York, shall be vested in the County Court thereof.
Justices of the Peace.-A justice of the peace has a limited jurisdiction in both criminal and civil actions. The former is confined to minor crimes committed in the town, and the civil jurisdiction to cases in which less than $200 is involved and the parties to the action reside within certain geographical limits fixed by law. When either party demands it, the justice must summon a jury of six men to decide the facts in the case. The court of
a justice of the peace, when engaged in the trial of a criminal action, is termed a Court of Special Sessions. A Justice of the Peace has power to issue a warrant for the arrest of a person charged with crime, and after an examination into the facts hold him in custody to await the action of the grand jury.
Local Courts of New York County and City.-New York County has, as has been said, a Court of General Sessions and a City Court, which take the place of a county court. The former has much the same criminal jurisdiction as a county court, but it may also try cases in which the death penalty may be imposed. The City Court possesses civil jurisdiction similar to county courts. The Court of Special Sessions, the City Magistrates and the Municipal Court have much the same jurisdiction as justices of the peace; the first two in criminal cases, the last in civil; but the limit of the amount involved is extended from two hundred to five hundred dollars. These courts have also jurisdiction of actions for violation of city ordinances.
Other Inferior Courts.-Local courts in other cities have generally jurisdiction similar to that of the courts last described, but one court in the smaller cities exercises both criminal and civil jurisdiction. The Police Justice of a village has a limited jurisdiction of petty offenses against the state laws and violation of the village ordi
Surrogates' Courts. The Surrogate Court in each county has jurisdiction of matters relating to the estates. of persons who die leaving property in the county, such as the proof of wills, the appointment of administrators
and distribution of the property of persons who die without leaving wills, and the appointment of guardians of minors and of their property. The Supreme Court, however, may try such questions as the meaning or validity of a will.
Coroners' Courts.-A Coroner holds a court wherever a person dies by his own hand or under circumstances which point to some other person being criminally responsible for the death. It is his duty to investigate as to the cause, and for this purpose he may compel the attendance of witnesses and examine them. If he be convinced that a crime has been committed, he may order the suspected person to be arrested, to await the action of the grand jury of the county. In counties which contain a city of the first class (see page 94) the Coroner must summon a jury of not less than nine nor more than fifteen persons to determine as to the cause of death. Such method of investigation with a jury is termed an inquest.
The Court of Claims.-The State, since it possesses the sovereignty, cannot be sued without its permission by any private person. The Legislature has provided, however, that a person having a claim against the State may present it, under certain conditions, to the Court of Claims, which takes the evidence and decides as to its validity. In case the claim is decided to be good, the Legislature appropriates the money to pay it.
2. COURTS OF APPELLATE JURISDICTION.
Appeals and Appellate Courts.-A person not satisfied with the decision of any court of original jurisdiction,
excepting in the case of a Coroner's Court, which is only preliminary to a trial, has the right to appeal from the decision to a higher court; but all appeals must be made within a time fixed by law. There are three courts of appellate jurisdiction-a County Court, an Appellate Division of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.
County Courts.-A County Court has appellate jurisdiction of cases tried before a justice of the peace of any town in the county, and generally of cases tried by the inferior local courts in the county.
The Appellate Division. To this branch of the Supreme Court appeals may be taken from decisions rendered in the judicial department in which it sits, by the courts held by the trial justices of the Supreme Court, by County Courts and by Surrogates. In certain cases the decisions of the Appellate Division are final.
The Court of Appeals.-The Court of Appeals is limited to the review of decisions of law in cases which have been decided by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, except that in cases where the judgment is death an appeal can be taken from the trial court directly to the Court of Appeals; in which latter cases, only, it has power to review decisions of facts.
Progress of Cases. From the foregoing observations it will be seen that the progress of ordinary cases through the courts is as follows:
3. JUDICIAL PROCEDURE.
3. A CRIMINAL ACTION.
Arrest; Commitment; Bail.-When a person is suspected of having committed a crime, he is arrested by a sheriff, constable or police officer and taken before a magistrate. If the latter has jurisdiction of the crime he may try the case; but if he has not jurisdiction, or if the crime is "capital or otherwise infamous," the judge takes evidence as to the prisoner's connection with the crime. If the evidence points to him as the guilty party he is "committed to await the action of the grand jury,” that is, he is delivered to the sheriff of the county where the crime occurred, to be imprisoned until the grand jury is in session.* When the crime is not murder or some other heinous offense, the committing magistrate may allow the prisoner to be released upon bail.
Proceedings before Grand Jury. At a meeting of the grand jury, which is held at the same time as a trial term of the Supreme Court, the District Attorney presents to it, in secret session, evidence to establish the guilt of the prisoner. But neither the accused nor any person in his behalf is sworn or allowed to appear before the grand jury.
Arraignment and Plea.—If the prisoner is not indicted by the grand jury, he is discharged; but if an indictment ist "found," the accused is "arraigned ”—that is, brought into court and the indictment read to him—and he is asked if he is guilty ; to this he must "enter a plea," which is an answer Guilty" or "Not guilty" to each "count," or charge, against him, in the indictment. If the plea is "Guilty," the judge sentences the prisoner, that is, orders what punishment he shall receive. If the plea is "Not guilty," he is entitled to be tried by a jury. A
*A Grand Jury in New York State consists of not less than sixteen nor more than twenty-three selected from twenty-four male residents of the county (in New York county the number is thirty-six) who have been drawn by lot by the County Clerk in the presence of the County Judge and Sheriff from a box in which have been placed slips of paper containing the names of three hundred taxpayers, between the ages of twenty-one and seventy years, furnished annually by the board of supervisors.