Appeal From Small Claims Decision
Either party to a small claims dispute, if dissatisfied with the court's decision, may ask to have that determination reviewed by a judge of the Madison County Court.
However, before deciding to appeal the decision in your case, there are certain matters which you should understand and consider:
- Taking an appeal will probably involve additional expense for you.
- Madison County Court has no authority to rehear your case, to retry your case, or to consider any facts other than those presented at the Small Claims hearing. A judge of County Court is permitted only to review how the judge of the Small Claims Court decided the matter; that is, whether the judge in your case correctly applied the law and whether, by his decision, "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 which "shock the conscience" or clearly deviate from the substantive law, not those on which a court might simply have gone the other way.
- The great majority of Small Claims decisions are affirmed. County Court cannot review any evidence that was not presented to the lower court, nor, except in a very rare case, will it interfere with the credibility assessments made by the hearing court.
If a default judgment was taken against you because you did not show up for the Small Claims hearing, that judgment cannot be appealed. You must make a motion in Small Claims Court to vacate your default. If your motion is denied, that denial can be appealed.
The pendency of an appeal does not prevent the respondent from taking steps to enforce his or her judgment. You can seek a stay pending appeal, however, which usually involves paying the amount of the judgment to the Small Claims Court pending determination of the appeal.
Should you decide that you wish to appeal a decision of the Small Claims Court, you must follow this procedure:
- Within thirty (30) days from the date of the Small Claims decision, file (by mail or in person) a written Notice of Appeal with the Small Claims Court which heard and decided your case. A filing fee of $30.00 must be collected at the time you file your appeal. The notice should state that you (as "the appellant") intend to appeal from the decision. It should name which Small Claims court heard your case and the date the decision was rendered. Include your address and your opponent's address. A copy of the notice must be delivered or sent to the opposing party in your case ("the respondent").
- In Oneida City Court, there are no stenographers and all proceedings are recorded. You are required to file a transcript of the proceeding as part of your appeal. The cost of such transcript is your responsibility, so you will want to obtain a cost estimate from a court recognized transcriptionist. The Court will provide you with the approximate number of pages of the transcript. The transcriptionist may require an advance deposit before starting the transcript and will require payment of the balance before releasing the transcript. You
will find a list of the certified transcriptionist on the NYS Court website: www.nycourts.gov.
- Within 15 days after receiving the transcript the appealing party shall make any proposed amendments to and serve same with a copy of the transcript upon the opposing party.
- Within 15 days after such service, the opposing party shall make any proposed amendments or objections to the appellant's proposed amendments and cause them to be served upon the appellant.
- The appealing party shall then submit the cause upon notice to the Court Clerk for settlement of the record upon at least 4 days notice to the opposing party. The Court will resolve any dispute as to the accuracy of the record and the proposed amendments if any.
- The parties in lieu of this process may stipulate that the transcript of the proceedings is correct, either in original form or as amended.
- After the Small Claims Court has filed its "return" with the County Clerk, you will be notified by the Madison County Court that you may submit a memorandum whereby you direct the reviewing of the judge's attention to those aspects of your case which you feel were improperly decided by the Small Claims Court (again, remember the County Court may not consider facts or evidence which were not a part of the case in the Small Claims Court).
- If after starting an appeal, you change your mind and wish to discontinue or withdraw your appeal, please notify the Small Claims Court and Madison County Court, in writing, of your desire to have the matter closed. You would, of course, still be responsible for the cost of any work on the transcript performed by the transcriptionist between the time you started your appeal and the time when you notify the transcriptionist that you are discontinuing it.
When your appeal has been considered and decided by a judge of the Madison County Court, a copy of the decision will be mailed to you at the most recent address of which you have advised the Court.