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John W. McConnell, Esq.
Counsel, Office of Court Administration
New York State
25 Beaver Street, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Re: Comments on the Unified Court System’s April 19, 2012
Proposed Amendments of Request for Judicial Intervention Forms
Dear Mr. McConnell:
The New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA) writes in response to the April 19, 2012 request of the Administrative Board of the Courts for comments on proposed amendments of the Request for Judicial Intervention form (“RJI”).* We have previously submitted comments, on more than one occasion, in connection with the prior overhaul of the RJI form, and commend the Office of Court Administration for having created the current form, which already incorporates changes we have suggested.
As a result, the new suggested revisions are very few, specific mostly to the needs in matrimonial and foreclosure cases. The reasons given for those small changes appear to have facial validity, and are not objectionable from our general practitioners’ view. Please note, though, that we do not comment on the changes from the view of those members of the bar who specialize in those practice areas.
There are only two revisions of general application. The first is a revision to the Status of Action or Proceeding section. After the question about whether and when a summons and complaint or summons with notice has been filed, it adds in the same manner whether and when one has been served: “Has a summons and complaint or summons w/notice been served? YIN If yes, date served _/_/ ___” The explanation states that this information is critical in determining whether scheduling of a preliminary conference is appropriate, and that it is particularly relevant in matrimonial actions for determining if the RJI has been filed within 45 days of service of the pleadings as required in 22 NYCRR 202.16(d). The rules provide that a party may request a preliminary conference at any time after service of process (22 NYCRR 202.12(a)). In view of this and the matrimonial rule, we agree that this data may be useful, and providing this information should not be particularly burdensome.
We note though that there may be some slight confusion in cases with multiple defendants; whereas the filing of such for all defendants will appear to take place at once, service upon different parties will normally occur at different times. Nonetheless, the question itself asks whether “a” summons and complaint or summons w/ notice has been served – i.e, whether one has been served – and the providing of service information concerning one defendant will foreclose a preliminary conference being scheduled when no defendant has been served. This caveat does not apply to matrimonial cases, where by definition there is one defendant.
The only other proposed change of general application on the RJI form is a clarification – not really a change – in the box previously labeled “Attorneys” and in the proposed form labeled “Attorneys and/or Unrepresented Litigants” that unrepresented litigants provide their address, phone number and e-mail address. This is not a change, as the current form (like the proposed one) states “For parties without an attorney, check ‘Un-Rep’ box AND enter party address, phone number and e-mail address in space provided.” Thus, this is but a clarification in the box where the information is to be provided.
In sum, NYCLA supports the proposed revision of the RJI form, and appreciates the time and effort expended to make the document useful to the courts and clear to the litigants. We also appreciate the opportunity we have been given to comment on court proposals and assist in enhancing the judicial process.
President, New York County Lawyers’ Association