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OATH will text New Yorkers to remind them about their civil hearings

September 8, 2020 Rob Abruzzese
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The City of New York’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) announced on Friday that it has created a text message system to remind New Yorkers about their upcoming civil hearings.

OATH is the office that handles nearly all civil summons issues by city agencies, including the Departments of Sanitation, Buildings, Health, Parks, Environmental Protection and many others. The only common civil summonses it doesn’t handle include parking tickets or red light and speed camera violations.

Now when New Yorkers get a ticket, they can sign up for reminders about when they have their hearing.

“By using modern technology and innovation, OATH aims to demystify the hearing process by providing respondents with precise instructions in plain language so that they understand how to proceed when they receive a summons from a city enforcement agency,” said Hon. Joni Kletter, OATH commissioner and chief administrative law judge.

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“Every person who receives a summons should know that OATH’s goal is to make it as convenient as possible for them to respond to that summons and direct text messages that explain our hearing process, the consequences for not responding to summonses, and remind people of important deadlines is just one way OATH is doing that,” Kletter continued.

New Yorkers will be pleased to hear that OATH never shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has transitioned to function remotely so people don’t have to take the subway to a hearing. OATH has even maintained its Help Center to assist self-represented litigants in fighting their summonses.

Since mid-March, OATH said it has conducted more than 25,000 telephonic hearings with evidence submitted via email and has issued 3,500 decisions from written defenses submitted via regular mail. The Help Center has held more than 7,100 remote sessions.

People who receive summonses will have to opt in to receive text message reminders and instructions for responding remotely by texting “OATHreminder” to 474747. They will be asked to provide their summons number.

Alerts are supposed to go out seven days before a hearing, three days beforehand, and then the day before. Recipients will also get texts that explain what steps they should take to avoid missing any legal deadlines associated with their hearing or for scheduling a new hearing if they fail to appear.

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