Friday, March 22 I visited the New York Supreme Court, Kings County located on 360 Adams St. I had agreed to meet up with Sandra at 9 or 9:30 being the latest, but in the process I got the courts mixed up and ended up in criminal court. It was getting a bit late and I asked one of the guards if there was an exit that would leave me closer to get to the Supreme Court, unfortunately he said no but he was very kind and told me that if I decided to stay and watch a case at this court to go up to either the 8th or the 11th floor. I decided to go with Sandra because the case she got was a civil case and not criminal. Luckily I made it on time and we got to the room 2 minutes before the case was supposed to start. After all the rushing and hurrying to get there on time, we sat in the room for 30 minutes, waiting, because the defendant was late. The case was about a contract in which the plaintiff accused the defendant of not completing the task he asked for within the time frame agreed on and on top of that, the defendant also owed him money. At first this didn’t sound like an interesting case at all but once you’re sitting there and you hear all the evidence presented and the actions that were done you begin to doubt who was really the victim in the situation. In the end nothing was decided, the judge ended the session and asked everyone to come back on Monday of the following week at 10 am again. I hope the defendant made it on time to this one.
On April 5th around 11:40 am I entered Criminal court on 330 Jay st and proceeded to go upstairs to the clerk office. As I entered I asked the clerk if there was any trials taking place and if I’m allowed to sit in on one of the them. The clerk then proceeded to tell me that due to it being a Friday that not a lot of cases are taking place due to judges leaving early but he would call and see if there was any. As we waited we took a look around the office which he then proceeded to tell us that there was no trials going on and to check back Monday. Due to this being the last day to turn the project in I then went over to 360 Adams st which is New York Supreme Court ( Civil Term ) Kings County. As I entered through the side doors I was thrown for a loop ; I went through scanning and into the County Clerk room where I stepped up to Window 1 and questioned Where would I be able to observe a court case for an assignment. The clerk then gave me a list of confusing instructions where all I remembered was to take the elevator to the 2nd floor. As I got to the second floor I walked all the way to the back where Surrogate Court Help Center and asked them the same question ; this time I received much clearer instructions and an actual court case to sit in on. As I approached room 363 Judge Ingrid Joseph allowed me to sit in on her case of Negligence. It was case of the Plaintiff slipping on a raised sidewalk and falling on the Defendant’s property ; as remedy the Plaintiff is suing for $2 Million.
My court observation was at the New York City Civil Small Claims Court, Kings County. The court is located at 141 Livingston Street and Smith. I arrived there at 6:15 pm to observe the proceedings which were scheduled to commence that evening at 6:30 pm. I went to room 409 part 45. When I entered the only two people present was a court male officer and another gentleman. I introduced myself to the officer to explain the purpose of my visit then, I asked if I could take notes by seating in the front row. The officer gave me the okay to do both when a petite woman of around 5’01” walked into the room wearing a black rope kind of limping from her right leg and flanked by a second court officer. As she was walking by, the judge very politely greeted me with a smile which I corresponded back to her twice as she kept walking to the bench while taking a second look at me and smiling again. Once seated, the judge began inquiring from the court officer about the calendar of the cases which he answered that he was waiting to get it and proceeded at the same time to informed her that I was here to observe the trials. I immediately introduced myself to the judge and when I finished to do so guest what?? The judge invited me to come up to the bench and SEAT NEXT TO HER in the witness box if I wanted to because she “Didn’t care” WOW!! What are the odds for that to happen in a life time for a law student and especially, while the court is in session?? Knock yourself out, people. Anyway, I was shocked at the honor and privilege to received such invitation especially, from a judge who was invested with the power of the state to ruled over personal disputes as well as having the power to send someone straight to jail, if need be. Well, the only thing that I could come up to say was “Are you sure??”. LOL. Nevertheless, I stayed put in the first bench. Sorry people, no dice.
The court started by hearing six cases in total. The first one was Hernandez vs. Plaza Kia where the plaintiff is alleging to the court that he bought a car there which began giving him motor problems soon after. The plaintiff continued by presenting as evidence some pictures taken by him after he had taken the car to a mechanic. The judge at that point stop him in his tracks by asking him if he was an expert in mechanic or not to determine such malfunction. When the plaintiff replied that he was not the judge told him to come back with a mechanic to testify as an expert and proceeded to adjourned the case for a latter time. Meantime, the second officer observed that I was seating at the edge of the bench and leaning forward struggling to listen at the first parties talking to the judge when he addressed me by asking if I wanted to seat by the table where the attorneys seat. This is the forbidden zone control by the judge where the penalty for transgressors is to get arrested. I did agree as the only way for me to take notes comfortably and while walking to enter the first officer told the second “No Cheng” he could not seat in here!! Whaaat? After being invited at first by the judge to seat next to her now this officer who was present when the judge spoke to me was denying me such privilege?? Well, court officer Cheng did not agree with that and corrected him by telling that the judge had invited me at first to which the first officer “sucked it up” and now I was able to sit where our associates seat! Nice.
The second case was index 569 where the plaintiff was suing the defendant for relief at law for damages made at the plaintiff side walk house. A man wearing a suit standing where the defendants do before the court attempted to interrupt the plaintiff in several occasions while she was making her point to the judge. This action made him earned the wrath from the judge who warned him not to interrupt the plaintiff again and what it was more she ordered him not to have his hands crossed over at the height of his waist. Then, he speaks up to the judge by telling her that he was not the defendant but… the defendant’s attorney!!! HA,HA,HA. The judge was not informed over this because according to him he had just being retained the day before by the defendant and therefore, he had come to the proceeding to petition the court for an adjournment for him to know all of the case facts. My view is that he could had this “Kodak” moment with the judge being avoided if he had only identified himself since the beginning.
The other 4 cases were not as intense as the first two. The third and fourth cases involved an accident, the fifth an adjournment, and the sixth a plaintiff suing for a bill received from Verizon. This one is funny but I am going to leave it for my presentation at class. By the way, the judge name is the Honorable Odessa Kennedy. The first officer refused to give me his name but not his shield number which, I declined as a response. The court finished those cases by 8:25 and on our way out was when I found out the name of the judge and the case index numbers from officer Steve Cheng, who was the one taking care of me including going to the third floor to obtained copies of the cases. Bravo for him. The Small Claims Clerk’s name is Mrs. Ward, who was kind enough to stayed on the phone today with me and assisted in verifying the names that I could not heard clearly in court and in addition to confirmed the parties index numbers for me. Did I mention how perplex she felt when she mentioned how surprised was for her that no one was calling while she talked to me for about 15 minutes?? This was mentioned by her in disbelief after she acknowledged that usually the phones are “ringing off the hook” when I contacted her at noon. I know why? There is a season under heaven for everything people. That is why!
On March 22,2019 I went to the Appellate Division, Second Department on 45 Monroe Place. When I arrived at the building was small it kind of looked like a private school. I walked in and there were three security guards two women and one male. I walked through the scanners, and I told the woman guard I need help I didn’t know what to go or where to go, I was a student from city tech who had to go a court observation for homework she told me to hang my coat up and the courtroom was right there. It was surprising there were actually a place to hang my coat up at out in the open. Beside the coat rack hall, it was a big room where the security also told me I can watch the hearings on the television it’s a live recording but I told her I rather go inside. When I walked inside there were a wall blocking me from seeing the inside of the room and blocking the people inside the room from seeing the door. There were four judges only one female who was African-American the rest were Caucasian men. The room was massive but yet reasonable. There were many people there it was only two rows of seats left in the back of each section which there were only two. The ceiling was very beautiful, squares which contained a delicate blue flower in the middle of it blooming out of it. I sat in the second to last row and began to analyze what was going on there was an attorney speaking with the judges I didn’t really recognize what’s going on but I knew it was a dispute going on. After a couple of minutes, the judges demanded the following case. A woman stood up out of the audience and walked to the jury box and introduced herself. I was still extremely puzzled it’s been like the judges recognized the exact case she talked about detail for detail and just wanted to know what she desired for them to arrange. I was there for about an hour and a half.
On March 29, I listened to two more case but this time at NYS Family Court. Similar process as before when I walked in through the scanners but this court-house was bigger than the other so there were a woman security guard with her own separate desk from the scanners so I asked her where I should go because I was a student looking to observe a trial. She sent me to the 7th floor to the record room and the court clerk which when they addressed me to the six floors to the executive court clerk. Me and her spoke for about 5 minutes then she began to make calls to clerks that’s worked for her she then walked me through a restricted area to get to the elevators faster and when we got to the 6th floor she walked me through 2 double doors behind the first one there was two separate doors with two different names on them she walked me through the one that said “Denise M. Valme-Lundy, Referee, Part 54” I walked in there were only 7 people in room not including me. There were only two rows of seats I was the only person in the audience. I was kind of nervous till I heard the judge seek the clerk who I was, the clerk told her I was a student here to observe the judge said “oh good.” After that I felt a little more comfortable. I came in at the end of a case hearing so it was confusing but what I got out of it was Mother of 7-year-old Nathaniel V. Father. They were discussing about whom Nathaniel should remain with but the judge needed motions and witness list exhibit. As a result, she assigned a conference date of August 13, 2019, at 10:00 am. She also said there was a 50% chance there would be an after trail then dismissed them. Another group of people walked in and started to get themselves seated and comfortable. I Wasn’t able to catch the father name but they were there for the mother for a relocation petition. She moved to New Jersey with her eight-year-old son Julius but her process between moving to New York To New Jersey his father was informed about it and had no objections to it until Julius initial week of school. The father retained Julius every other weekend and his mother constantly transferred him to Brooklyn which were they discussed meeting place and back to New Jersey Even though the father lived in Long Island with his Fiance. One Sunday Julius father didn’t allow his mother Carla Overiver to transport him home. She drove all the way to Long Island to the father home to obtain him. She was not allowed in the house, and Julius was not allowed out the house. She called the cops which they exclusively forced the father and Carla talk. They subsequently decided to allow her to gather him on the following Wednesday at a Wal-Mart parking lot. In that location she was served a court order not to move with her son Julius till there a trial hearing of the situation. Carla wanted a Relocation Petition so that her and her son can go back home to their contemporary home in New Jersey. Since They had a trial meeting with another judge a few hours away the judge adjourned the court her decision to April 12th.
When given this assignment I decided to cover a civil matter involving my father. My father Mr.Lee has been rear ended by a vehicle being driven by Mr. Green. My Father discovered dents to his rear bumper and Broken tail lights. Attached to the windshield was a note with Mr.Greens contact information. On February 17th 2019 My fathers attorney contacted Mr.Green and his attorney regarding the incident. Immediately Mr. Greens attorney expressed his clients want to settle out of court. Being that both parties, Fathers attorney and Mr. Greens lawyer was super nice and aware of my legal assignments, he allowed me to observe the litigation between both parties. The whole experience was very cool. I got to see first hand the behind the scenes negotiations. Ultimately my father will receive compensation for the full amount of the damages, $943 plus an extra $300.
Being that procrastination is a big part of my life, on April 4th I went to NY Supreme Court, Kings County to observe a civil court case. I begin to the supreme court on 330 jay st but then remembered that one is for felony cases only so I headed to the civil one on 360 Adams st. After going through the metal detectors, which made me feel like I had a flight to catch, I went to the information desk and asked where should I go to sit in on a case. The court officer gave me a bunch of numbers of floors to choose from so as I entered the elevator I randomly pressed a button and decided the 4th floor was the one for me. I got off the elevator and not too far from the doors was another court officer who gave me more numbers of rooms to choose from so I chose room 441. As I entered the room the bailiff quietly approached me, I told her I was there to observe the case for my civil law class and she generously told me where to sit and if I had any questions I can come to her before recess. The case was a motor vehicle accident and to my understanding the plaintiff was rear ended which caused a ongoing physical pain in his back and left shoulder and was suing for more than $100,000 (which is why it was supreme court and not civil). During my time there, which was approximately 3 hours, they called the plaintiffs doctor to the stand who played as a witness and expert witness because of his experience and education as a neurologist. during the questioning of the witness things started getting intense. there was a lot of objections thrown out and hearing the judge say “overruled” was my favorite part. Around 12:45 the judge dismissed the jurors for recess, the lawyers made a couple more statements and then the judge dismissed them and himself for recess. I then went to the bailiff and the assistant in the room for all the information on the case and this concluded my day in court.
On Tuesday, March 5, 2019, I observed a civil case. I went to the N.Y.C Family Court, Kings County located at 330 Jay Street, Brooklyn NY 11201. When I came in, there was a massive line for security, and I was waiting in line for about 15 mins. After going through security, I asked a fellow officer to direct me to the clerk’s office. He advised me to go to the 7th floor. When I found the office I spoke to a clerk named Susan I explained to her the assignment that I have to sit in a trial for 2 hours and observe it. The clerk called several parts until she found a case that was suitable for me. She then directed me to the 10th floor part 3 to observe a case about child protective/ neglect abuse. When I walked into the courtroom the judge asked me who I was so I explained to him that I’m a student from city tech studying law and paralegal studies and that it’s my assignment to sit through a civil court proceeding, so his response was welcome to the courtroom I hope you enjoy it. In a few words the case was about the mother was who diagnosed with schizophrenia but did not follow through with her medication; therefore, the children were placed under the grandmother’s protection.
On Thursday March 28 at 12:30pm I arrived at New York Supreme Court Kings County, when arriving and going through security they were very friendly and welcoming. When I was finally in I went to the information desk and a security guard was very helpful and knowledgeable with finding me a civil case, he sent me right up to a case that was about to start. When entering the court room the court officer was extremely helpful with getting me the information I needed, she also gave me a little briefing on the case so I was knowledgeable on what was going on and happening. The room was extremely quiet in the room it was only 6 jurors, 1 court officer, 1 clerk, 1 court reporter, both council and there clients and an extra with the plaintiff’s council and me. The room was empty. At 1:05pm the Judge stated for everyone to take a lunch and to come back at 2:15pm, when arriving back at the court house there was an extremely long line outside for everyone to get back inside. The court room we were in was nice just really plain nothing really stuck out. I left at 3:40pm.
First I was thinking to going to The Supreme Court in Queens County but I ended up going to Kings County Supreme Court. I. Reached in court by 10:25. By entering there was security guard standing in front checking everybody I.D he was really helpful. He told me the cases on Friday were only going on 9th floor for matrimonial cases and couple of civil cases in 4th and 7th floors. After going through a security check I took elevator to 4th floor and looked on the sheets that were posted outside the hall and one of the case was starting around 10.45. I was lucky enough to able to hear the hearing of a landlord and tenant court, Final testimony from defendant was going on in court that day regarding the case. It was really thrilling to hear questioning back and forth between defendant and Lawyer. It was really great and informative. It was an interesting assignment.
Starting off this court observation assignment, I had no idea really where to start or whom if anyone to start it with. I ended up settling for the Supreme Court on Adams street where there is a sculpture of Christopher Columbus was located.The officers were welcoming, the judge had a quote above his head on the wall behind him everything was just smooth. Within that period of time I watched three cases, one was for the request of the court to stop an action, another was preventing the expulsion of the plaintiff’s client from expulsion due to a tweet dating back two years and the last case if I’m being honest was a waste of time. If I’m to sum everything up in the end, I’m really glad this was assigned.