Tenants in Maze of New York Courts Get a Helping Hand

The Court Navigator Program in New York City guides people who don’t have an attorney through their civil case.

News Story (New York)

Zolan Kanno-Youngs
Wall Street Journal (WSJ)
February 15, 2016

Tags: Access to Justice, Courts


The Court Navigator Program, which the court system launched in February 2014, guides people who don’t have an attorney through the complexities of their legal case. Unlike criminal court, civil court doesn’t provide a lawyer to those who can’t afford one.

The navigators, most of them college students, typically start by helping eligible litigants with their initial paperwork in the clerk’s office. They help explain how the court system works and help access interpreters and social services. They also can accompany litigants in the courtroom in every borough except Staten Island.

Navigators are trained and supervised, but they aren’t licensed lawyers and aren’t permitted to give a legal opinion. In court, however, they can remind oft-overwhelmed tenants of facts and respond to a judge if asked a question.