Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Kali Holloway, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: March 28, 2007

Seal of the Unified Court System

New Queens Supreme Court Initiative Connects Self-Represented Litigants with Community Lawyers

QUEENS, NY – With the opening of the Self-Represented Legal Assistance Project at Queens Supreme Court, low-income litigants navigating the legal system without an attorney will be able to obtain free legal assistance from community-based lawyers right in the courthouse. Attorneys from CUNY School of Law’s Community Legal Resource Network (CLRN), a nationally recognized collaborative network of community-based lawyers, will be available two afternoons a week to provide free brief legal consultations for litigants in need of legal services who cannot afford to pay for them.

The initiative, a collaboration between the Hon. Juanita Bing Newton, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives, the Hon. Jeremy Weinstein, Administrative Judge of the Queens County Supreme Court, Civil Term, and the Community Legal Resource Network, has received seed funding from the office of City Council member David I. Weprin.

“More and more, litigants unable to afford the services of an attorney are appearing in our Supreme Courts to resolve complex legal matters that involve their families, their homes and their sustenance. These matters have far-reaching consequences, yet these parties appear without the benefit of basic legal advice because they cannot afford a lawyer,” said Judge Newton. “This innovative partnership will provide a much-needed service to help guide these litigants through the legal system and counsel them on the steps they need to take.”

Judge Weinstein noted, “The Queens Supreme Court is very happy to provide this vital service to those unable to afford legal counsel. Through this unique partnership with CLRN, low-income litigants will be able to obtain legal assistance that otherwise would not be available to them. We look forward to working closely with CLRN to begin addressing the unmet legal needs of low-income Queens residents.”

Beginning April 4, 2007, a CLRN attorney will be on site Monday and Wednesday afternoons to provide brief legal consultations to low-income self-represented litigants. Litigants will be seen by appointment, scheduled through the Queens Supreme Court Self-Represented Information Office in Room 109 of the courthouse, located at 88-11 Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens.

“Through this collaboration, CLRN will continue its proud tradition of providing increased access to civil justice to under-represented communities in New York City,” stated Fred Rooney, Director of CLRN. “The project offers a unique opportunity for CLRN members to assist Queens residents who desperately need legal assistance, including elderly victims of predatory lending, displaced homemakers in the maze of divorce litigation and disabled people in danger of losing their housing. We are delighted to partner with the courts to address this urgent need.”

Council Member Weprin said, “ I, like many of my colleagues in City Council, find that a lack access to civil justice for most New Yorkers is an affront to American democracy and a direct threat to our notion of fairness. I am proud to partner with CUNY School of Law’s Community Legal Resource Network and the Queens Supreme Court as we look for ways to bring greater meaning to the principle of ‘liberty and justice for all.’”

The Self-Represented Legal Assistance Project is expected to expand in the near future, with additional attorneys and extended hours.

Web page updated: March 28, 2007