Brooklyn Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene, in partnership with the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH), on Tuesday hosted a Community forum on “How to Respond to Summonses from NYC Enforcement Agencies.”
At the forum, which was held at Eugene’s 40th Council District office, Deputy Commissioner of Public Affairs Marisa Senigo and Special Assistant Rachel Amar of OATH discussed what to do when a summons is received from a city agency.
They also explained OATH’s translation services, and OATH’s remote hearing options, “which provide a more convenient method of fighting a summons when recipients of summonses are not able to go to hearings in person,” Eugene said.
He said they were joined by Acting Commissioner Tynia D. Richard, who took questions from the audience regarding the legal process when responding to a summons.
“The only way we can provide the services that the people of New York City deserve is by working together. I want to thank a wonderful, outstanding public servant, my good friend John Castelli from OATH, for making this event possible,” Eugene said. “Many people in New York City do not take advantage of all of the resources that are available through city agencies.
“The legal system is very complex and difficult to navigate for those who need to interpret the legislation,” he added. “When we think about New York City, a city which is home to so many immigrant people, who work so hard to raise their families and pay their bills, they often don’t have time to interpret the summonses they receive.
“We have people who are business owners, and many times they find themselves in very difficult situations regarding summonses they receive,” the councilman continued. “When people are facing legal pressure, they have to go to court, and many people don’t understand where to go or what to do.
“The reason we are here is to let people know that help is available,” he said. “The worst situation that anyone can find themselves in is trying to do the right thing when you don’t know what to do. People in New York City are working very hard; but, some of the time, they find themselves in very tough situations that have a negative impact on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. We don’t want that to happen, and, as we say, ‘Knowledge is power.’”
Richard said her goal at OATH is “to make sure that our judges are treating you well when you come in, that they are polite to you, that you know the law and that they write good decisions.
“You come into a hearing and you give them the evidence. You give your testimony and the other side will give their testimony and the judge is going to make a decision,” she said. “Our goal is to provide a good decision, a fair hearing and to be transparent.”
John Castelli, Deputy Commissioner of Legislative Affairs at OATH, said Mayor de Blasio “set a goal for us to provide residents and small businesses throughout the city with greater access to justice.
“By working with the City Council and Speaker Corey Johnson, we are ensuring that Mayor de Blasio’s goal is being met, which has been a tremendous success for OATH,” he said. “We are concerned about one thing, we want everyone to get due process, and we can’t thank Council Member Eugene enough for his advocacy on behalf of the 40th District.”
Senigo said: “We are the court where you would go to fight a summons from a city agency.
“We want people to know that the process is simple and that it should not be intimidating,” she said. “We are not criminal court, so people do not have anything to fear when they come.
“We also have a variety of services such as a help center and online options, as well as hearings by phone – things that make it really easy to do the right thing and respond to a summons,” Senigo added.
OATH is the independent administrative law court, where nearly all City enforcement agencies file their summonses for hearings.
The agencies that file summonses at OATH for hearings include the Departments of Sanitation, Buildings, Health, Parks, Environmental Protection, Consumer Affairs, FDNY and NYPD, among many others.
OATH, however, does not conduct parking ticket hearings or hearings on alleged red light or speed camera violations.
Last year, OATH said it received about 877,000 summonses from the city’s various enforcement agencies.
During that time, 44 percent of summonses that were fought at OATH hearings were dismissed by OATH Hearing Officers.
For questions regarding a City summons please call 718-287-8762 or email meuge