Brooklyn Boro

NYC Family Court becomes largest in state to go completely digital

June 5, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
NYC Family Court Administrative Judge Jeanette Ruiz (pictured) and Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks announced that the court has completed its conversion to digital court documents, which makes it the largest court in the state to do so. Eagle photo by Mario Belluomo

Brooklyn’s Family Court is finally going digital.

A conversion process that started in 2012 is finally complete after Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks announced on Monday that the New York City Family Courts have been successfully transitioned from paper to digital files.

That makes the court, which handled more than 213,000 cases in 2016, the largest in the state to convert entirely to digital case files. The process was completed six months ahead of schedule.

“Digitization is integral to the judiciary’s ongoing work to increase accessibility, expedite case processing, improve overall efficiency and keep pace with public expectations of justice,” Marks said. “As a paperless entity, the New York City Family Court will now be more ably equipped to optimize resources and manage its heavy caseload.”

The New York City Family Court is run by Administrative Judge Jeannette Ruiz and hears matters from adoption, to child support cases, to juvenile delinquency. With the entirety of the court’s case files being converted, Ruiz said that she expects a more efficient and accessible court with a smaller carbon footprint.

“The transition from paper to digital files is a giant leap forward as the New York City Family Court endeavors to maximize efficiency and attain excellence in all aspects of its operations,” Ruiz said.

“The implementation of this critical initiative — to which we owe the support of the court’s hardworking judges and staff, including the extraordinary efforts of the Chief Clerk’s Office — will enable the court to more effectively respond to the needs of New York City’s children and families in carrying out its vital mission,” she continued.

The conversion process started in the Queens Family Court in 2012 and was eventually expanded on a limited basis to Manhattan and the Bronx. Last year’s launch of Chief Judge Janet DiFiore’s Excellence Initiative and the Family Court’s own Strategic Plan, accelerated the expansion process. Manhattan finished its conversion on June 1 and Brooklyn, the last of the five boroughs to completely switch over, was finished on Monday.

This means that court filings in all five boroughs can be shared electronically and appropriate data and signed documents can be exchanged with filing agencies via the internet. For instance, this will allow the court to more easily share arrest warrant information with NYPD.

The court will be able to reallocate staff and eliminate copying and other paper-associated tasks, plus the need for their physical storage. Court staff will also be able to remotely access documents.

“I commend Judge Ruiz for her leadership in successfully expediting this large-scale digital conversion and appreciate the collective contributions of the court’s dedicated judges and nonjudicial employees to that end,” Marks said.