Common Legal Words* Used in Connection with
Special Proceedings in NYS Supreme Court
*Terms are defined in the context of Special Proceedings only.
Consult a legal dictionary for additional meanings.
Acknowledgment of service - A written admission, signed by a person who has received legal
Action - A lawsuit.
Adjournment - The re-scheduling of a court date, either by agreement of the parties or by
order of the Court.
Adversary - the opposing side in a lawsuit. In a special proceeding, a petitioner is the
- - -
adversary of respondent.
Affidavit - A sworn statement which is signed and notarized at the end.
Affidavit of service - an affidavit by a person who has served legal papers, describing the
papers served and the manner in which they were served. When papers are served
personally, the affidavit of service includes a description of the person served. See ''How to
Affirmation - A statement, signed by an attorney or physician, osteopath or dentist, which
is affirmed to be true under the penalties of perjury and which may be served and filed in
lieu of an affidavit. See CPLR 2106.
Allege- to assert a fact in a -
Answer - A written statement submitted in opposition to a petition in a special proceeding
or against a complaint in an action.
Application - A request made to a court, whether oral or in writing; often referred to as a
Article 75 - A special proceeding to compel or stay arbitration; or to confirm, vacate or
modify an arbitration award. Named for the CPLR sections which specifically bear on this
type of proceeding.
Article 78 - A special proceeding brought to appeal the decision of a government agency or
Assertions - statements of a party
Chronological order - to state facts in the order in which they occurred- most petitions and
complaints are in such order
County Clerk's Office - Room 141-Basement - is where a litigant obtains an Index Number
and files papers to commence an action or special proceeding. Court files are maintained in
the room next door, 103-B.
CPLR - The Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR), which contains most of the procedural
rules for actions and proceedings brought in New York State courts.
Default - the failure of a litigant to respond to papers which require an answer.) or to appear
in court for a scheduled trial or hearing.
Deponent - A person who signs and swears to the truth of an affidavit or testifies under oath
to the truth of facts.
Exhibits - Documents attached to a petition or affidavit. When a special proceeding is
brought, the decision or arbitrator's award which petitioner seeks to reverse, set aside,
modify or confirm must be attached to the petition.
Ex parte application - a type of application which has not first been served upon an opposing
Ex Parte Office - Room 315 - ex parte applications are submitted here, then processed and
forwarded to a judge.
Frivolous - Legal arguments or papers which are completely lacking merit in fact or law.
Hearing - An examination into a matter by a judge, judicial hearing officer or special referee
where testimony may be heard, and other evidence submitted.
Index Number - A number issued by the county clerk, used to identify a case, the current cost
of which is $210.00.
Injunction - a court order for a party to stop doing or start doing a specific act.
Judgment - A determination of the rights of the parties
in an action or a special proceeding.
Legalese - unnecessarily long words or phrases. Examples: hereinabove, hereinbelow.
Litigant - a person bringing or defending an action or special proceeding.
Motion - a request for a court order or ruling. When made on notice, copies of motion papers
are served on all parties and proof of service is submitted to the court. A motion may also be
made orally at a trial or hearing.
See the pamphlet ''How to Make or Respond to a Motion. "
Motion Support Office - Room 119 - after a -petition and notice of -petition, or motion papers
are served, a litigant brings the original (the Court's copy) here.
Motion Support Courtroom - Room 130 - special -proceedings and motions are called here,
and answering or reply papers can be submitted here on the return date.
Movant - A person who makes a motion.
Opposition - An answer to the petition.
Notice of Petition - A document attached to and served with the petition; it states,, in general
terms, the basis for the special proceeding and the return date.
Order to Show Cause (OSC) - A court order which sets the return date of a special
proceeding or motion and a deadline for service of papers. See ''How to Make a Motion'' or
''How to Bring a Special Proceeding for instructions on how to bring an OSC.
plaintiff or defendant.
Party - A petitioner, respondent,, -
Penalty - a fine or other form of punishment
perjury - the act of lying or stating falsely under oath
Petition - In a special proceeding, a written appeal of the final decision of a government
official, an official body, or agency. It is also required to confirm, modify, or set aside an
arbitration award under Article 75 of the CPLR.
Petitioner - A person who brings a special Proceeding.
Pleading - complaint or petition, answer, and reply.
Poor Person Order - A court order granting a litigant's request that he or she be excused
from payment of court costs, due to poverty. If granted, costs such as the Index Number fee,
the RJI fee, and the fee for certification of a judgment are waived.
Pro se - a person who acts as his or her own attorney.
Proof of service - An affidavit sworn to by a person who has served legal papers, describing
in detail the manner in which the papers were served. In the alternative, an
acknowledgement of service in proper form is adequate.
Reply - an affidavit submitted by Petitioner in response to respondent's Answer to address
any points raised by respondent.
Request for Judicial Intervention (''RJI'') - A form prepared by petitioner and served upon
respondent together with papers used to commence the special proceeding. After it is served,
the form, with proof of service,, is filed with the appropriate court clerk, and the matter is
assigned to the judge who will handle the case.
Respondent - a person or government agency served with papers initiating a special
proceeding and named in the caption, who is required to submit an answer. In general, when
a special proceeding is brought to set aside or confirm an arbitrator's award, the petitioner
names his or her opponent (not the arbitrator) as respondent. See CPLR Article 75.
Return Date - The date when answering papers are scheduled to be submitted to the court.
In a special proceeding, this date must be at least twenty days after service of the papers.
When an Order to Show Cause is signed by a judge, the court sets the return date.
Rule 130 - A court rule which requires a party to sign all papers submitted to the court; the
signature is then regarded as a certification that the papers are not frivolous.
Service - The manner in which papers are delivered or sent to another party. To commence
an action or special proceeding, papers must be served in the manner required by Article 3
of the CPLR. See also ''How to serve papers. 91)
Statute of Limitations - The time period within which a -person must bring a lawsuit or
special proceeding. Article 2 of the CPLR lists limitations for many types of cases. Generally,
a special proceeding must be commenced within four months of the decision being appealed,
but there are many exceptions to this general rule.
Submitted - a stage in a special proceeding which begins after either: 1. respondent has
defaulted, and no adjournment of the return date has been granted. Further papers are not
permitted at this stage. Similarly, after all motion papers are properly presented, the motion
is referred to as submitted.
Trial - the formal examination of a legal controversy in court in order to determine the issue.
Trials are not had in matters brought by special proceedings.
Verification - A paper signed and notarized by a litigant who swears that it is true to the
litigant's knowledge, and that statements not personally known to the litigant are believed
to be true.
proceeding is commenced; the
Venue - The geographical place where an action or special -
place where an affidavit is signed.
Wherefore- wherefore clause - The final paragraph in a petition or complaint usually starts
out ''Wherefore, petitioner demands ... '' The word may be translated: ''and this is why'' or
as a result of all of the above. '' The ''wherefore clause'' must state exactly what the
petitioner is seeking, such as an order and judgment reversing the decision of the X agency
dated September 1, 1999. 91)