Need for Creation of Client Feedback Mechanisms for People Involved in the Criminal and Civil Court Systems

Justine M. Luongo, Attorney-in-Charge of the Criminal Practice, and Adriene Holder, Attorney-in-Charge of the Civil Practice, testified before the New York City Council Committee on Courts and Legal Services and Committee on Public Safety on the need to create client feedback mechanisms for people who are involved in the criminal and civil court systems.

“Client engagement and feedback are critical to ensuring that our criminal and civil court systems provide for the fair treatment, inclusion and respect of all who find themselves subjects of the courts’ proceedings. We stand with this committee and our colleagues in the indigent defense and civil legal services communities to continue to assure that we are all providing client-centered representation that strives to have every client feel engaged in the process and empowered to make educated decisions about her/his case. The Legal Aid Society has a strong commitment to providing zealous effective and client-centered representation to all of our clients.”

As an alternative to the proposed legislation, the Society asked the New York City Council to consider the following:

  1. Create a task force to examine the best course of action in developing feedback mechanisms for those in the criminal and civil court systems to evaluate their treatment, representation and views of the courts process. The task force should be comprised of all stakeholders that provide a function in the court process and case, as well as community groups that represent the interests of public.
  2. Enact legislation to fund the hiring of a research firm to assist the task force with its goals and to insure that any feedback mechanisms created meet standards for research and data collection, including confidentiality.