Please be advised that some of the New York State Unified Court System Office for Justice Initiatives’ volunteer attorney programs are now available online.
We are working hard to restore all of our volunteer programs. Please check this page regularly to receive updates.
Find Free LEGAL ASSISTANCE during the Coronavirus crisis by phone and online
New and easy to follow instructions for making phone and video court appearances are here:
Virtual Court Appearances for the Public
The New York State Unified Court System’s Office for Justice Initiatives led by Honorable Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives, is charged with directing the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program. The Office for Justice Initiatives (OJI) also oversees child welfare and juvenile and adolescent justice initiatives, including implementation of legislation raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York (commonly known as the “Raise the Age” law). The Office for Justice Initiatives works closely with the Permanent Commission on Access to Justice, as well as with the Advisory Committee on Access for People with Disabilities, the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), the Division of Technology, the Grants Office, the Office of Language Access, Office of Legal Information and law schools.
Law Day Report
Law Day, celebrated annually in the month of May, offers us the opportunity to reflect on and discuss the rule of law and its role in our society. Each year, Law Day is centered around a different theme to help guide these discussions. Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson and the Office for Justice Initiatives (OJI) are pleased to issue our annual Law Day Report reflecting on this year’s theme, “Toward a More Perfect Union: The Constitution in Times of Change.” These words invoke powerful images of the Constitution as the foundational document of our nation. It is important to emphasize, however, that this year’s theme does not suggest that we have a perfect union – rather, it reminds us that we must consciously and actively pursue a more perfect union, and that our public institutions and justice systems, like the Constitution, can adapt and improve to become fairer and more equitable for all.
OJI’s 2022 report reflects on our work on Equal Justice within the New York State Court System: safeguarding against the influence of explicit and implicit bias in our decision-making processes; promoting increased diversity in our judiciary and workforce; and strengthening our efforts to provide equal and meaningful justice for all New Yorkers. Additionally, the Office for Justice Initiatives continues to adapt and expand to better serve court users and to introduce necessary enhancements to access to justice across all five of its divisions and across all courts.
Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives
Hon. Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson Profile
Chief of Staff
Michelle Smith, Esq.
- VCAN (Virtual Court Access Network) at Redhook Community Justice Center
- OJI Law Day Report, "2022: Toward A More Perfect Union: The Constitution In Times Of Change"
- 2021 Annual Foreclosure Report
- New Video on Jury Service and Fairness
Video | Transcript
- Law Day Report
- A Call to Action: Advancing Equal Justice in New York’s Courts
- Equal Justice in the Courts Summary
- Important Consumer Debt Case Information
- Family Court Representation in the Virtual Age Upstate
Video | Transcript
- Family Court in the Virtual Age Video | Transcript