NY County Family Court Help Center and Petition Room Staffs
Nicholas Rapallo, Deputy Chief Clerk
Juntel Sheard, Court Assistant
Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, Administrative Judge of the New York City Family Court
Congratulations Family Court Stars!
Assistant Deputy Chief Clerk Nicholas Rapallo, Court Assistant Juntel Sheard, and the New York County Family Court Petition Room and Help Center staffs received the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program’s DIY Star Awards for their hard work and effort in successfully implementing and promoting DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Form programs in the New York County Family Court. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, Administrative Judge of the New York City Family Court, was also presented with a DIY Star Award for her outstanding contribution to the effectuation of the DIY Form programs in the New York City Family Courts. The Star Awards were presented on August 8, 2013, at a ceremony held at the New York County Family Court in Manhattan.
NYS Courts Access to Justice Program Director Judge Fern A. Fisher, Administrative Judge for the NYC Family Court Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, Court Clerk Specialist Michael McLoughlin, Supervising Judge of New York County Family Court Douglas Hoffman, New York County Family Court Clerk of Court Evelyn Hassanoeddin and Chief Counsel to the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program Rochelle Klempner, all spoke about the recipients’ outstanding efforts furthering equal access to justice for unrepresented litigants. Judge Fisher presented the awards and then surprised everyone with one more DIY Star Award for Judge Richardson-Mendelson. American Sign Language Interpreter Sandy Rand translated the speeches throughout the ceremony. Following the award presentation, guests were treated to a light lunch and coffee and cake courtesy of Family Court staff members who raised the funds to cater the event through home-made food sales.
(Read what Administrative Judge Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson and Chief Clerk George Cafasso had to say about New York County Family Court.)
New York County becomes the fourth New York State Family Court to earn the DIY Star Award, joining the ranks of Kings, Bronx and Queens Counties. Although New York County has always had superior litigant usage of the DIY Form programs, it was not until Assistant Deputy Chief Clerk Nicholas Rapallo joined the staff in October 2012 that the Court really became a model for access to justice and courthouse efficiency. When an unrepresented litigant arrives at the Petition Room, he or she is screened to see if his or her case is appropriate for one of the DIY Form programs. If so, the litigant is informed about the ease of use of the DIY Form program and its expeditious availability. If the litigant chooses to use the DIY program a staff member accompanies the litigant to one of the five Help Center DIY Form terminals where the litigant is assisted with getting started. If a litigant has trouble doing the program on his or her own or has a question during the program, patient and friendly Help Center staff are close by to assist. At any given time, all the DIY terminals are in use. If a computer is not in use, Help Center will go back to the waiting room and encourage litigants to give it a try. Since the institution of Nick’s procedures the comments in the DIY User Surveys have dramatically improved, exhibiting an exceedingly high level of litigant appreciation and satisfaction. Nick’s changes to the Help Center and Petition Room DIY procedures have created a true shift in court culture and work environment.
Judge Hoffman congratulating DIY Star Nick Rapallo
User Survey and UCMS data collected during the first two quarters of 2013 indicates that the staffs are hard at work assisting unrepresented litigants with the DIY Form programs. This data earned the New York County Family Court Petition Room and Help Center staffs the DIY Star Award because:
- nearly 2,000 DIY Form DIY Form were filed - more than any other Family Court in the state;
- 84% of DIY Form users, both inside and outside the courthouse, were referred to the programs by court staff;
- 84% of litigants using the DIY Form programs used them in the New York County Family Court;
- over 950 User Surveys were returned to the NYS Courts Access to Justice Program; and,
- an overwhelming number of User Survey comments call attention to the high level of support provided to unrepresented litigants in need of legal and procedural information.
The New York County Family Court DIY Star winners include: Assistant Deputy Chief Clerk Nick Rapallo, Court Clerk Specialist Diane Goulding, Senior Court Clerk and Petition Room Supervisor Edna (Maria) Stafford, DIY Unit Court Assistants Juntel (June) Sheard and Danielle Gadson, Petition Room Court Assistants Sandra Anyon, Alan Barnes, Marian Jefferson, Stuart Lokich, Angela Wolfersberger, Brenda Freeman, Lisa Harris, Deborah Joseph-Saunders, Rhonda Markowitz, Michael McGreal, Kenneth Notto, Robert Dudley, Juanita Stewart, Malaika Abdul-Waheed, and Gina Ward, Court Interpreter Ana Harrison and Senior Court Analyst Michelle Fields.
Although all of these court employees are winners, one individual who works closely with the DIY litigants was singled out by her supervisor for going the extra mile when it comes to customer care. User Survey comments clearly evidence the great attention and assistance that Court Assistant Juntel Sheard provides the DIY litigants. For this reason, June was awarded the DIY Star Award. Read a sampling of what litigants had to say about their DIY experience in the New York County Family Court below.
DIY Star Juntel Sheard with her award
In addition to the New York County Family Court winners, Judge Fisher presented a DIY Star Award to Judge Richardson-Mendelson. Judge Fisher spoke about how leadership comes from the top on down and how Judge Richardson-Mendelson's efforts to make the implementation of DIY Forms a priority is evidenced by the fact that over the past three years, four New York City Family Courts have won DIY Star Awards for their assistance to unrepresented litigants through the use of the DIY Form programs. Judge Fisher stated, "Administrative Judges like her [Judge Richardson-Mendelson] make my job easier."
New York City Family Court Administrative Judge Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson
View the photo gallery of the awards presentation.
Read a sampling of what litigants had to say about their DIY experience in the New York County Family Court
"Very fast reliable system. I would recommend this system be implemented in all court counties." - Support Modification Program, June 24, 2013.
"June was very helpful and made the process real easy." - Support Modification Program, June 18, 2013.
"I was very happy with my services at the help center." - Support Modification Program, May 24, 2013.
"More employees with the same attitude as June." - Support Modification Program, May 20, 2013.
"The staff was very helpful and informative. The process was explained and I was able to freely ask questions while completing my petition order." - Support Modification Program, April 9, 2013.
"It was great. Employees made me feel very comfortable." - Support Modification Program, April 9, 2013.
"The worker that attended me named June was very helpful and kind." - Support Modification Program, April 3, 2013.
"Service was prompt; staff friendly and very professional. Highly recommended." - Support Modification Program, April 1, 2013.
"Staff is very professional and polite, helpful and courteous. A stress free experience." - Support Modification Program, March 27, 2013
"June was very helpful and knowledgeable about her job." - Support Modification Program, March 20, 2013.
"The lady that assisted me was really nice and helpful." - Support Modification Program, March 7, 2013.
"June was very helpful. Easy steps, fast procedure." - Support Modification Program, January 15, 2013.
"The help center employee was very nice and helpful." - Paternity Program, January 7, 2013.
"June was very polite and extremely helpful." - Support Modification Program, December 19, 2012.
"Service was very pleasant and workers were beyond nice." - Support Modification Program, December 11, 2012.
"I was very happy about the assistance I received today." - Support Modification Program, December 10, 2012.
"Keep pleasant employees. They were very engaging, attentive and helpful." - Support Modification Program, December 10, 2012.
"June was really helpful and explained everything very well!" - Support Modification Program, December 3, 2012.
"June was really helpful. I could not have completed my petition without her. She is an excellent employee. She deserves a raise and more hours so she can help more clients." - Support Modification Program, November 20, 2012.
"Such a helpful team of employees (June)." - Support Enforcement Program, October 26, 2013.
"Danielle was very helpful and kind and this program is a great idea." - Support Modification Program, July 31, 2012.
"Saved me time...big time. Very courteous staff. Keep up the good work." - Support Modification Program, June 14, 2012.
"Love the energy here. Calm and patient." - Support Modification Program, June 13, 2012.
"The most helpful and efficient court I have ever been to. Very pleased with the staff and service. Great job!" - Support Modification Program, May 21, 2012.
"Danielle does a good job. No need to change anything." - Support Enforcement Program, March 6, 2012.
"Juntel is very polite and helpful." - Support Modification Program, January 24, 2012.