Everyone should have access to the courts, regardless of someone’s socio-economic situation or the pandemic. 

That’s the basis behind the Faith-Based Court Access, a new pilot program announced Friday that will give unrepresented litigants virtual access to Westchester County Courts and free legal services in underserved communities. 

While similar help is available through the courthouse Help Centers and pro bono providers, this service is decentralized and closer to home. It’s meant to provide a setting that’s more comfortable for some and ensure they have the tools necessary.  

It is part of the Chief’s Access to Justice initiative, literally expanding access through partnerships with the faith community, local government, and the legal community.

It will start in five houses of worships in Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains, Yonkers and Peekskill, but Chief Judge Jane DiFiore hopes to expand the program. 

“With the many challenges posed by the COVID pandemic, the FCA program will serve as a vital resource to many of our residents grappling with legal issues relating to their housing, health, family safety and other pressing needs, offering a safe environment where they can remotely access court proceedings and critical services,” said Rev. W. Franklyn Richardson, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon. 

Rev. Richardson provided the start-up technology for the initial sites through the Grace Development Corporation. 

He worked closely with DiFiore, Ninth Judicial District Administrative Judge Kathie Davidson, Westchester County Executive George Latimer’s office and faith leaders throughout the county to make this program a reality. 

“With the launch of this novel initiative, many of Westchester County’s neediest litigants will now be able to consult with a legal services provider online or participate in a virtual court proceeding from the safety of their local house of worship,” Davidson said in a statement. 

The following services will be offered at each of the pilot sites:

  • Access to computers, video cameras, microphones, scanners and printers to allow litigants to participate in court proceedings.
  • Access to a private area where litigants can prepare documentation
  • A congregation point person to assist
  • Access to a telephone and WiFi connections to communicate with service providers for pro bono assistance with court forms.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a tremendous strain on some of our most vulnerable residents,” Latimer said. “It is my hope that the FCA Initiative will fill a void for those litigants who have been unable to remotely access justice services, providing an avenue for them to participate virtually in court proceedings and file documents through the court system’s electronic portals, all at a location where they feel comfortable and safe.”

Here’s a list of FCA sites and contact information: 

  • Grace Baptist Church, at 52 South 6th Ave. in Mount Vernon
    • Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    • 914-664-2676, [email protected]
    • Reverend Bill Mizell, under the leadership of Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson
  • Mount Hope A.M.E. Zion Church, at 65 Lake St. in White Plains. 
  • San Andres Episcopal Church, at 22 Post St. in Yonkers
    • Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    • 914-963-9563, [email protected]
    • Pastor Richard Suero, Church Secretary Beatriz Castrillon
  • Bethesda Baptist Church, at 71 Lincoln Ave. in New Rochelle
    • Tuesday, Thursday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    • 914-632-6713, [email protected]
    • Reverend Dr. Paul Weaver
  • Church of the Assumption (Catholic), at 131 Union Ave. in Peekskill 
    • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 9:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
    • 914-737-2071, [email protected]
    • Father Esteban Sanchez

Christopher J. Eberhart covers breaking news. Click here for his latest stories. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisEberhart2. Check out how to support local journalism here.

Read or Share this story:

Source Article

slot pragmatic play online surya168 idn poker idn poker slot online akun pro thailand idn poker
mega sloto