Occasionally I see a decision and want to read the briefs or underlying papers. if it's recent enough, the Appellate Division (the vast majority of the cases I post are Appellate Division cases) might still have the file. The Second Department sends everything back to the lower court when they are done with it; not sure about everyone else.
So, let's assume that you want to pull the briefs. First, you'll need either the index number of the Appellate Division number. Sometimes both will be on the decision. Sometimes neither. Usually, at the very least it will have the Appellate Division number.
Let's start with a decision: Miller
v Bah, 2010 NY Slip Op 04753 (App. Div., 2nd, 2010)
If you have the Appellate Division number, you can go to the Appellate Division and see if the file is there. If the file was send back to the lower court, you can take the index number and pull the file with that. If you don't have either, the Appellate Division can probably get it for you if you tell them the caption.
If all you have is the caption, and you don't want to talk to the Appellate Division, you can head over to elaw or ecourts. I'm going to use ecourts for an example. Head over there and click on Webcivil Supreme (the lower court was the supreme court).
Now put in the name of one of the parties, or both. I used both. Initially I tried using one of the names, but the search results sucked. I put Nassau County because that's where the case came from.
And the results.
If you click on the index number, you get the box on the left. If you click "show motions" on the box on the left, you get the box on the right. Aside from the parties matching up, notice that the date with the circle (on the left) corresponds with the date of the order in the decision. It looks like we have the right case.
Now you have enough information to walk into the lower court and pull the papers.
Using e-law is much easier, but you have to register.
It might be easier just to call the court. But if you don't want to do that, and don't feel like registering for elaw, you can do this.