What to Do if You Are Not Treated Fairly in Court

Para ver este artículo en español por favor visite aquí. (To view this article in Spanish, visit here.)

You should be treated fairly and with respect when you go to court. If you had a court hearing and the Town, Village, or City Judge or Justice did not treat you with fairness and courtesy, you have a right to complain.

A complaint form is available online: https://cjc.ny.gov/General.Information/Gen.Info.Pages/filecomplaint.html. More information:  http://www.scjc.state.ny.us or 585-784-4141. You can also find helpful FAQ on filing a complaint here: https://cjc.ny.gov/faq.html

The Commission is not a court of appeals, and you should not complain to the Commission because a justice ruled against you.  For example, do not complain to the Commission if a justice decided that you broke the rules of your lease, but you think that you did not break the rules—you could file an appeal instead.

Commission complaint information:

  1. You do not need an attorney to file the complaint with the Commission. You can do this on your own online.
  2. You should file a complaint as soon as you find the judge’s conduct to be unethical (examples of unethical conduct are below).
  3. The Commission cannot transfer your case to a different judge or disqualify the judge hearing your case.
  4. If the Commission decides to dismiss your complaint, the decision is final. You cannot appeal against it.

When should I file a complaint with the Commission?

You may want to file a complaint with the Commission if the justice:

  • Did not let you speak
  • Did not let you ask questions
  • Did not let you raise valid claims
  • Said things that make you believe that he or she is biased against you because of race, gender, religion, income, etc.

Examples of unfair treatment in eviction cases:

  • The justice refused to consider your claim for reduced rent based on problems with the condition of the home.
  • The justice did not allow you to speak about or submit evidence about the basic procedural requirements for an eviction, such as correct service of the court papers, a correct rent demand, or a termination notice.
  • The justice told you that you could not raise a defense without an attorney or that you could not answer the papers orally in court.
  • The justice gave the opposing party legal advice about your case prior to your hearing, such as filling out the landlord's eviction papers.
  • The justice assumed that you owed rent and would be evicted without making the landlord prove the case, and did not allow you to dispute the landlord’s claims.

Remember: justices should also be treated with respect and courtesy.  Do not speak while the judge is speaking, do not raise your voice, and always address the judge or justice as "Your Honor."



(c) Legal Assistance of Western New York, Inc. ®

This article provides general information about this subject. Laws affecting this subject may have changed since this article was written. For specific legal advice about a problem you are having, get the advice of a lawyer.  Receiving this information does not make you a client of our office.


Last Reviewed Date: March 28, 2023



Last updated on .

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