Article 78

Article 78 Proceedings - How to Appeal NYCDOE U Rating and Termination Decision 

An Article 78 proceeding is used to appeal the decision of a New York state or local agency to the New York courts.
What can I do if I get a decision from a New York agency that I disagree with?
If you disagree with an agency decision, you can appeal the decision to the New York courts. This case that you file to appeal the decision is called an "Article 78 Proceeding." It is named after the section of New York law that sets out the rules for this kind of case: Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Laws and Rules. Most people ask us about this kind of case after they have lost a fair hearing decision against the Department of Social Services (DSS). Some other kinds of decisions by government agencies, such as New York Department of Education U Rating can also be appealed to a court using the Article 78 proceeding.

Do I need a lawyer?

No, but Article 78 Proceedings are usually filed by a lawyer, so it may be hard to file the papers you need (a Notice of Petition and a Petition) by yourself. 

In what court do I file my appeal?
You usually have to file your appeal in the New York State Supreme Court. Each county has its own Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is usually located at the County Courthouse.
60 Centre St
New York, NY 10007

Is there a time deadline for filing an Article 78 proceeding?
Yes. Article 78 proceedings must be filed within four months of the date you receive the decision you want to appeal. Check with a lawyer as soon as you can to find out if your deadline is even shorter.
What do I have to do to win?
Many people lose Article 78 proceedings, even in cases that seem very unfair. Only a lawyer who listens to the facts of your case can give you a good answer about whether you may win your case.
One argument you can raise is that the agency didn't follow its own rules when it made the decision. Two of the other things the court can consider are 1) whether the decision was "arbitrary and capricious" or 2) not supported by "substantial evidence". These words have special legal meanings. "Arbitrary and capricious" means the decision is not reasonably related to the facts of the case. "Substantial evidence" is evidence that a reasonable person would accept as enough to support the agency's decision. If you lost a hearing, you probably feel that you should win on both of these issues. New York courts very often decide in favor of the agency if the agency has written down some reason for its decision, even if many people would think the decision was wrong.
Can I do anything else besides filing an Article 78 proceeding?

If your case involves rights protected by the U.S. Constitution or legality of a federal law, you may be able to file a case in the federal court or in the New York State Supreme Court. In that case, you may have up to three years from the date of the fair hearing decision to file your case. It is usually safest to challenge to the fair hearing decision within four months of the date of the decision anyway, or sooner, to make sure that you do not miss a time deadline.