2005-08-11 / Business & Finance

City Now Using On Line Filing For Small Claims Court Proceedings

A revolutionary new program has been introduced in courts in the five boroughs of New York City that al-lows people to file small claims on-line, thereby eliminating the hassle of leaving work or home and physically going to the courthouse. This program changes the relationship between people and the courts by removing the intimidation and inconvenience of accessing the court system.

In a process that could take half a day to accomplish, now, from a home or office computer, a party who wants to bring a small claims lawsuit in Brooklyn can access the Internet, go to www.brooklyncivil.com and in 5-7 minutes complete a filing to commence a small claims action.

This innovation places the Civil Court of the City of New York as a national leader in the integration of the Internet with court services for the public. In conjunction with Court, a national court and government legal services company with offices in At-lanta and New York City, the court, headed by Judge Fern A. Fisher, has set the standard for a streamlined pro-cess for every citizen to quickly and inexpensively file claims electronically.

Now those millions of niggling problems that are handled each year by small claims courts can be redress-ed in a fast, affordable and user-friendly manner.

The Small Claims Court in New York City, is an informal court where individuals over 18 years of age can sue for money only, up to $5,000, with-out a lawyer.

The Small Claims Court is meant to be a “people’s court” where claims may be tried speedily, informally and inexpensively. Typical cases include collection of a debt, demanding the return of a security deposit from a landlord, collecting an overdue bill or seeking specific or general compensation for injuries to a person or damage to property.

These courts are located in each of the 5 boroughs with Manhattan also having a second court located in Harlem.

Traditionally, an aggrieved party had to travel to the courthouse in the borough in which the defendant lived, worked or had a place of business to file his or her claim. This process could take many hours, requiring taking time away from work or home. Now, a plaintiff can access the Internet, follow simple directions and file a legal action by simply pressing the “send” button. The process takes 5-to-7 minutes from start to finish, and court costs and a modest convenience fee are paid online with a credit card.

The Web site also contains a rich database of information that is intended to answer questions related to the court and small claims procedures. Once the claim is filed, a docket number is assigned to the case and the plaintiff receives e-mail confirmation that the claim has been transmitted to the court. Notice is also given to the defendant that an action has been filed and the parties are notified of a court date.

“By partnering with private industry, the Court has accelerated by years the application of technology to im-prove the delivery of legal services, all at no cost to the court or the taxpayers,” says Robert Levine, Managing Director of Court.

In addition to measurable, increased efficiencies in court operations, this program revolutionizes the connectivity between the court and the public.

“The court is now available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” Levine says, “and the inexpensive, rapid and convenient filing of those court documents is a giant step in empowering ordinary people to take charge of their own routine legal needs.”

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