Suffolk County Surrogate's Court Staff
Back row: Judge C. Randall Hinrichs, Surrogate Judge John M. Czygier, Jr., Michael Cipollino. Front row: Gerri Zambito, Cindy Voehl, Judge Fern Fisher, Gina Sahin and Dawn Moore. Missing Star winners: Ray Palumbo and Lisa Garstka
The Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court Staff Small Estate and Guardianship Departments received the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program’s DIY Star for their efforts promoting the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Form Small Estate, Guardianship and Safe Deposit Box Programs in the Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court. On April 15, 2013, the staff became the first court in Suffolk County to receive this state-wide award for their outstanding assistance to the unrepresented public.
In honor of their achievement, an award ceremony was held in the courtroom of the Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court in Riverhead, New York. NYS Courts Access to Justice Program Director Judge Fern A. Fisher, 10th Judicial District Administrative Judge C. Randall Hinrichs, Suffolk County Surrogate Judge John M. Czygier, Jr., and NYS Courts Access to Justice Program Chief Counsel Rochelle Klempner, all spoke about the recipients’ outstanding efforts furthering equal access to justice. The ceremony was also attended by County Court Judge Stephen L. Braslow, 10th Judicial District Executive Director Warren G. Clark, Esq., and Former Acting Surrogate Gary J. Weber. Numerous court staff came to congratulate the DIY Star winners.
Suffolk County Surrogate's Court staff
The Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court staff (which includes Chief Clerk Michael Cipollino, and Associate Surrogate’s Clerk Ray Palumbo, Surrogate’s Court Clerk Gerri Zambito, Sr. Court Office Assistant Lisa Garstka, Management Analyst Cindy Voehl, Sr. Court Office Assistant Dawn Moore, and Sr. Court Office Assistant Gina Sahin) are DIY Stars because of their commitment to facilitating usage of the DIY Form programs. For example, UCMS records establish that over the past six months, 30% of the unrepresented litigants filing voluntary administrations in the Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court used the Small Estate Affidavit DIY Form program to create their court papers.
Chief Clerk Michael Cipollino with the DIY Star Award
Additionally, the staff assisted assessment of the DIY Form programs by returning the litigant User Surveys. Most impressive is the fact that the User Surveys consistently indicate that nearly 50% of the litigants using the DIY Form programs are referred by a Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court employee. This quality customer service is evidenced by the positive comments from litigants submitted in the surveys, a sampling of which is showcased below.
View the photo gallery of the awards presentation.
Read a sampling of what litigants had to say about their DIY experience in the Suffolk County Surrogate's Court
"Employees were kind, patient and extremely helpful in answering questions and directing me to the right website. Thank you for not adding more stress to this stressful time!" - Small Estate Affidavit Program, December 12, 2012
"Gerri in Suffolk Surrogate's Court was very kind and competent." - Small Estate Affidavit Program, November 2, 2012
"Really appreciate the opportunity to prepare the forms online. It made the process go faster, neater and more accurate. Thanks!" - Small Estate Program, August 27, 2012
"The court employees were very helpful. Thank you very much." - Small Estate Affidavit Program, June 13, 2012
"I just want to say thank you and this was one of the best programs I have come across." - Small Estate Affidavit Program, May 16, 2012
"I was impressed with the online guide and service. It was easy to use and clear." - Small Estate Affidavit Program, May 4, 2012
"Great, helpful tool." - Small Estate Affidavit Program, April 4, 2012
"What a wonderful program and so helpful." - Small Estate Affidavit Program, February 17, 2012
"I appreciate the easy use since I was not a lawyer." - Small Estate Affidavit Program, January 22, 2012
"Gerri was very helpful answering all my questions." - Small Estate Affidavit Program, January 1, 2012