On the TV show "Law & Order", when they cut to the trial it's usually accompanied by a chiron (along with the trademark "dun-dun" sound) saying something like "New York State Supreme Court, Part 7". Is this an accurate representation of where trials like these would be held? Isn't the NY Supreme Court an appeals court, like SCOTUS? These are always ordinary jury trials. (Considering the contorted logic the prosecutors employ, I expect that most of these convictions get appealed, but the show never goes that far.)

  • 2
    It is also not unique to New York or the U.S., the Supreme Courts in several Canadian provinces are also not the highest court. However, in all cases, the Supreme Court is the superior court of inherent and general jurisdiction.
    – xngtng
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 11:43

1 Answer 1


As described at the State of New York Court of Appeals website, the supreme court is the system of trial courts for serious cases. The highest court in New York is the Court of Appeals. It serves the same role as what many other states call a supreme court.

  • 7
    So it's just ideosyncratic terminology, like the way the federal government calls the foreign secretary the Secretary of State.
    – Barmar
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 16:57
  • 4
    @Barmar Yep. State governments use a wide variety of strange names. One state over in Massachusetts, we have a body called the General Court, which is not any court at all, but in fact the state legislature. Though "Secy of State" is a perfectly reasonable title for the head of the department of the same name. Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 18:15
  • 3
    @Barmar Generally it's because most states started out with two levels, the trial court and one appellate court. Increasing workload at the beginning of the 20th century led states to add an extra intermediate level, and not wanting to rename everything led to the seemingly flipped names. Maryland just fixed their names, requiring a constitutional amendment in the 2022 election.
    – user71659
    Commented Mar 2, 2023 at 19:49
  • 3
    FYI, Maryland higher courts had strange names that they recently changed: marylandmatters.org/2021/04/06/… Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 2:24
  • 2
    @Bobson I'm familiar with the history of that, but thanks.
    – Barmar
    Commented Mar 3, 2023 at 20:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .