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New York StateUnified Court System

Who's Who in the Courtroom?


Judge:

• The judge is in charge of the hearing (trial). He or she listens to witnesses, examines evidence, and then decides if the case has been proven.

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Court Attorney Referee / JHO:

• Some cases such as custody, visitation and orders of protection are conducted by a referee who may hear and decide the case, and issue temporary and final orders.

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Support Magistrate:

• Support cases (petitions filed seeking support for a child or spouse) and paternity cases (petitions filed requesting the court to enter an order declaring someone to be the father of a child) are heard by support magistrates.

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Court Attorney:

• A court attorney is a lawyer who works with and assists the judge by researching legal questions and helping to write decisions. The court attorney may also meet with the attorneys or parties to a case to try to reach an agreement without the need for a trial.

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CourtClerk/Court Assistant:

• The court clerk or court assistant sits near the judge, referee or support magistrate and assists in the preparation of orders.

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AssistantDistrict Attorney:

• In some counties in New York City, in juvenile delinquency cases involving children between the ages of 13 and 15 who are accused of committing certain serious or violent acts, an Assistant District Attorney prosecutes the case in the Family Court.

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Attorneyfor Child:

• An Attorney for Child is a lawyer assigned by the judge to represent a child in a Family Court case.

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AssistantCorporation Counsel:

• An attorney from the New York City Law Department, who prosecutes juvenile delinquency cases, and may also represent the petitioner in some support and paternity cases and in family offense cases if assigned by the judge.

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SpecialAssistant Corporation Counsel:

• An attorney from the Department of Social Services who prosecutes child abuse and neglect cases and termination of parental rights cases, and presents support cases involving children who are receiving public assistance.

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GuardianAd Litem:

• A guardian ad litem is a person assigned by the judge to act in place of a parent for a child whose parents are required to appear in court but are not available to appear, or assigned for an adult who is mentally or physically unable to speak for himself or herself in court.

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AssignedCounsel:

• In some Family Court cases, the judge or support magistrate may assign a lawyer to represent an adult party who cannot afford to hire a lawyer, at no cost.

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Petitioner:

• The person or agency filing the petition is the petitioner.

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Respondent:

• The person or agency against whom the petition is filed is the respondent.

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Court Officer:

• Uniformed Court Officers are assigned to every courtroom and hearing room. They are responsible for security throughout the building, and also call the parties into the hearing rooms when the judges or support magistrates are ready to hear each case.

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Interpreter:

• The court provides interpreters for people who come for court cases and have difficulty with English. Spanish interpreters are usually available daily in the courthouse, and interpreters of many other languages, including sign language for the hearing-impaired, may be ordered by the court.

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Court Reporter:

• Records are kept of all testimony and statements made during court hearings. In some courtrooms, court reporters take notes during the hearing, using a machine similar to a typewriter, and may then be asked to type a "transcript" - a word-for-word report of what is said during a proceeding. (Hearings before support magistrates and some hearings before judges are recorded on tape-recorders.)

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Probation Officer:

• Probation Officers work for the Department of Probation, and prepare reports for the judges about the people involved in the cases. The Probation Officer assigned to the courtroom is called a Court Liaison Officer ("CLO").

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Caseworker:

• Social service agency caseworkers assigned to work with families bring case records to court and testify during hearings.

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