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New York StateUnified Court System

Court Navigator Program, formerly known as Resolution Assistance Program (RAP)


Testimonials

If you would like to post your own testimonial about your experience as a Court Navigator volunteer, e-mail courtnavigator@nycourts.gov.

 


 

Posted: October 14, 2014

By: Sagar Sharma, Undergraduate Student

“During the summer of 2014, I was a Court Navigator for the Access to Justice Program. Initially, I was not really sure of what to expect-I had heard from various people that Housing Court is a chaotic environment. However, it turned out that all of those people were blatantly wrong. The Court Navigator program gave me an opportunity to help litigants that do not have the time or the financial capacity to hire a lawyer. Although I was unable to provide legal advice (since I am not an attorney), I noticed that the information that I was able to provide tremendously helped the unrepresented litigants. The simple act of providing a litigant a phone number for an agency - such as The Legal Aid Society - was appreciated. I also noticed the moral support I provided to the litigants instilled in them a confidence that they were previously lacking. I was surprised to learn the amount of free legal aid that is available to those who cannot afford an attorney. Yet, I was saddened to learn that this information is not widely known- which is why the Court Navigator Program, and its volunteers, is a great asset for the Court to have.

In addition to learning about the Court System and providing help to those who do not have a lawyer, I was able to meet and interact with people from vastly different backgrounds. Interacting with lawyers, judges, court attorneys, and litigants gave me a deeper understanding of the types of people present in New York City. It would be an understatement to say that I was a different person after my experiences as a Court Navigator.

Overall, I had a delightful experience as a Court Navigator. As a result, my desire to go to law school increased tremendously. The Court personnel were supportive and encouraging - especially during my first few days as a Navigator. I would highly recommend the program to anyone who has a desire to go to law school or a desire to provide assistance to those who truly need it. It will be a decision that they certainly will not regret.”

 


 

Posted: October 18, 2013

By: Ivonne T., Undergraduate Student and Aspiring Volunteer

“I would like to take the time to thank the RAP program and its representatives for their incredible assistance in continually providing support to individuals who are not represented by an attorney. Recently, my sister and I came to the Housing Court at 111 Centre Street after receiving a court notice. We were informed that our landlord charged us an additional $600.00 towards rent without a substantial explanation. My mother and head of the household was unable to attend because of jury duty. This consequently resulted in my sister and I appearing on her behalf. While sitting on the bench my sister and I did not know what to expect. We thought we were going to lose the case because we came to court with no representation. However, two guardian angels who are RAP volunteers by the name of Sue and Natasha not only assisted us in our defense, but they genuinely and compassionately helped us. We call them our guardian angels because out of everyone on the 7th floor, Sue and Natasha took the initiative and the time to help my sister and me. They were phenomenal in every way imaginable and stood beside us until we settled with the landlord's attorney. I am currently pursuing a degree in Humanities & Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. My goal after graduation is to attend law school and to one day become a Human Rights attorney. The RAP Program is a unique program and I appreciate its mission in serving as mentors to individuals who are unrepresented... I am highly interested in being a part of this program and aiding others similar to the way Sue and Natasha helped my family. If you are still recruiting volunteers for this program please let me know the application process.”

 


 

Posted: October 18, 2013

By: Sue Herskovits

“ I have really enjoyed working as a R.A.P. volunteer at the Manhattan Housing Court these past 6 months. What you don't get in pay you get back 10 times in satisfaction. As a R.A.P. volunteer in the fast-paced atmosphere of the courtrooms and hallways of Housing Court, you are definitely learning as you go, which keeps you on your toes (I carry the RAP Manual with me everywhere I go!). But because all the Court personnel are so welcoming and helpful, it is exciting rather than overwhelming.

While assisting unrepresented litigants, I have met people with all different backgrounds and it is amazing how after just a few short hours of being together and hearing the stories of their circumstances, a bond forms. No two stories are alike. One case was a dressmaker who was locked out of his apartment with a bride's dress still inside which he desperately needed to retrieve. Another case was a teacher who was wrongfully terminated by Section 8 due to the Social Security Administration issuing her 2 different Social Security numbers without her knowledge. The litigants are often intimidated by the courtroom setting so it is empowering for them when someone has their back. It can also put them in a less adversarial mood, keeping the process moving more smoothly. The RAP volunteer can help level the playing field for unrepresented litigants by accompanying litigants when they speak with the attorneys and judges, by encouraging them to advocate for themselves in a focused, effective way, and by helping them organize their documents and navigate the system. They are genuinely happy and appreciative of the assistance, which makes this volunteer work so rewarding. ”

 


 

Posted: October 14, 2011

By: Adam Antreassian, J.D. Candidate (2009-2012)

“Over the summer of 2011, I volunteered as a R.A.P. Assistant with the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program. Shortly after completing my training, I was assigned to the Housing Resolution Part of the New York City Civil Court in Queens County.

Having just completed my second year of law school and being interested in public interest law, the Resolution Assistance Program was a great fit for me. The program put me in the courtroom where I interacted with judges, attorneys, and litigants, and immersed me in ongoing legal disputes carrying serious consequences.

The Program taught me the importance of assisting unrepresented litigants and the responsibility that comes with that assistance. Many litigants in landlord/tenant disputes have low incomes and are forced to represent themselves without an attorney. These unrepresented litigants often find court proceedings confusing and intimidating, especially since most of their adversaries are represented by an attorney. As a R.A.P. volunteer, I eased the stress levels of unrepresented litigants by providing them with support. While I never told litigants that "everything would be OK," I did assure them that they had rights, I told them where they could go to get free legal assistance, and most importantly I made sure that they were not taken advantage of by opposing counsel.

Overall, my experience as a R.A.P. volunteer was very positive. I truly enjoyed working in court and having face to face contact with litigants, attorneys, and judges. The court personnel were very welcoming and supportive, and my supervisors were always available to offer me help and advice. I would highly recommend the program to other students.”

 


 

Posted August 26, 2011

By: Selicia Smith, Undergraduate Student

“Volunteering as a R.A.P. Assistant for the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program has been an enjoyable experience. I am truly thankful that I had the opportunity to lend an ear and provide moral support to unrepresented litigants who needed assistance with their case. In addition, I am truly grateful for having had the opportunity to work with several knowledgeable attorneys and court clerks in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens Civil Court. Thanks to these professionals, I was able to get a good grasp of housing law. My biggest take away from volunteering for this program is that I am going to walk away with a vast amount of wisdom on landlord and tenant issues as well as a drastic improvement in my legal vocabulary.”

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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