Nearly one-third of the general population defaults on their summons by not responding at all. As a result, fines add up and credit scores are affected.
To break down and simplify the process of responding to a summons, the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) is hosting an outreach event to the Chinese and Korean communities on Thursday, June 14, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Flushing Library at 41-17 Main Street.
Hosted by local elected officials and community groups, the event will feature OATH Commissioner and Chief Administrative Law Judge Fidel F. Del Valle.
OATH spokesperson Marisa Senigo said attendees can hear directly from the OATH commissioner, who will take questions after speaking. The event will also have translation services available.
“We want people to know this is not a scary process,” she said.
At a similar event organized in Sunset Park, many in the Chinese-American community expressed fear about showing up to an OATH trial, Senigo said. She said immigrants coming from different countries may have concerns about the country’s justice system.
Those fears are compounded by some of the rhetoric coming from Washington, D.C., about immigrants.
“We just want to make sure the information is out there that we’re an administrative court, not a criminal court,” Senigo said.
Although one-third of people who receive these summons don’t show up to court, Senigo said 44 percent of summons that are challenged in an OATH hearing are eventually dismissed.
The event will not only give more information about navigating the summons process, it offers OATH an opportunity to explain many of the changes they’ve made in the last few years, including simplifying procedures.
“Everything we’ve been working on has been with an eye toward making the process easier to navigate, understand and participate in,” she said.
Prior to the changes, summons from different city agencies had different procedures. That has changed.
“All the rules and procedures people have to follow are now the same across the board,” Senigo said.
Other improvements include remote hearings, rescheduling and other streamlined processes.
OATH hopes that the event will increase the summons response rate, especially among the Chinese and Korean communities.
“It shouldn’t be an intimidating experience,” Senigo said. “If they feel it is, we invite them to try it again.”