New Yorkers who receive a summons should not feel overwhelmed by the administrative process. There is an address for help, a way to obtain assistance in navigating the seeming maze of the New York City court system. On July 22, 2020, the Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim (RAA) and the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) joined NYC’s OATH (Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings) for its first Fairness in Trials and Hearings (F.A.I.T.H) webinar to learn how to access justice with minimal pain.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, presidium chairman, RAA, Rabbi Leonard Blank, director of Chaplaincy Commission and External Affairs, RAA, and Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, executive vice-president, RAA together with Rabbi Binyamin Hammer, director of Rabbinic Services of the NCYI joined OATH Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge Joni Kletter along with OATH staff and discussed ways our community can easily navigate the city’s administrative law court. Chief Judge Kletter discussed remote hearings by phone and that OATH has conducted 14,602 remote hearings through the COVID 19 pandemic.

The Webinar provided important information on what the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) can do for New Yorkers who have received a civil summons from a City Enforcement Agency and the Resources available to them at OATH during the COVID-19 outbreak.

OATH is New York City’s independent administrative law tribunal that provides hearings on civil summonses issued by city agencies that includes the Department of Sanitation, Department of Buildings, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Consumer & Worker Protection, Department of Transportation, Fire Department, Police Department, Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, and the Taxi & Limousine Commission. As a judicial entity, OATH does not issue civil summonses, does not establish enforcement policies, does not employ inspectors or agents, and does not direct, control or otherwise influence where, when or to whom civil summonses are issued.

Rabbi Mirocznik said, “We appreciate the city’s Administrative Law Court being so accessible to the public, by reaching out and educating the public OATH has demonstrated that they care about the residents of New York City and that demonstration of concern is the foundation that builds trust between Government and the people who rely upon the Government to insure fairness for all.”

“Ensuring access to justice for New Yorkers facing civil summonses has been OATH’s mission throughout the public health crisis,” said Judge Kletter. “It is crucial for us to continue to work with our community partners, including the Rabbinical Alliance of America and the National Council of Young Israel, to get the word out to New Yorkers about their rights and how to respond to these summonses.”

Rabbi Binyamin Hammer remarked, “I am very pleased that we had today’s webinar. The information received is beneficial to the congregations that many of our rabbis serve. Hopefully this vital information will help people navigate the process and achieve a fair resolution.”