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Frequently Asked Questions


Questions about the Application Process
Questions about the GAL training
Questions about cases
Questions about getting started
Questions about GAL duties
Questions about APS
Questions concerning GAL workload
Questions about no longer being a GAL
Questions about receiving payment for cases
Questions regarding indemnification


Questions about the Application Process:

What do I need to do to become a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)?
To become a GAL in Housing Court, you must submit a completed application, resume, and two professional references to the GAL Program. You must also complete a full day of training.

How can I obtain an application?
To obtain an application, click on obtain an application form.

Once complete, please print and forward to the address below, along with a copy of your resume and two professional references (phone numbers are sufficient):

The Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for NYC Courts
111 Centre Street, Rm. 1240
New York, NY 10013
Attn: Guardian Ad Litem Program
Denise Colon-Greenaway, Esq., LMSW

What happens once the application is submitted?
Once an application is submitted, your documents will be reviewed and as the next training date approaches someone from the Program will contact you. All prospective GALs are required to attend the full GAL training before being considered for the Program.


Questions about the GAL training:

When is the GAL training offered?
The Program offers FREE live training to prospective GALs twice a year, usually in January and June. Video replays are also offered in between live trainings.

Can I obtain CLE credit for attending the training?
Yes. Up to 7.5 free CLE credits are offered for attending the GAL training, including one credit hour of ethics.

*Note: Attorneys admitted to the NY State Bar for less than two years cannot receive CLE credit for watching video replays, but are welcome to participate in the GAL Program.

What does the training entail?
The GAL training seeks to provide prospective GALs with a thorough understanding of the role of a GAL in Housing Court, common reasons why a litigant may be appointed a GAL, engagement strategies, expected advocacy efforts and resources. The course is taught by a panel of experts in the fields of legal and social work advocacy and landlord-tenant law.

What should I expect after completing the training?
After the training is provided, the Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for NYC Courts will begin the process of contacting references. The Office will contact references provided on the GAL application.

What happens if there is a problem reaching one of my references?
If your references are unresponsive, you will be asked to provide alternate references. Failure to provide viable references will result in not being placed on the GAL list.

How long should it take from the time I take the training before I am placed on the GAL list?
Barring any problems concerning references, you should expect to be placed on the list within a month from the time that you complete the training.


Questions about cases:

How do I get a case?
Once you are placed on the list, your name will be provided to all Supervising Judges, according to the boroughs you listed on the GAL application. At that point, your name may be selected randomly in response to a judicial request for a GAL. If your name is then chosen, the Judge’s Court Attorney will contact you to see if you are available for appointment.

If my name is selected and provided to a particular Judge, must that Judge choose me to serve as the appointed GAL on a case?
No. Judges are provided with the names of 2-3 GALs in response to their request for names. It is up to the discretion of the Judge who to select.

Do I have to take a case that I am offered?
No. It up to you whether or not to accept a GAL appointment. You should make this decision based upon your current caseload, availability, and your comfort level, given the facts of the case.

Should I return the Judge’s call, even if I do not intend to take the case?
Yes. You should always return the Judge's call, even if you know that you cannot take the case. This enables the Court to secure a GAL more quickly. It also helps you to develop a favorable reputation with the Court.


Questions about getting started:

What should I do once I accept a case?
Once you accept a case, you must submit a GAL Consent Form to the Court, obtain a copy of the Order of Appointment, and arrange to see and copy relevant documents in the ward’s file.
Please note that you will need a copy of the Order to confirm your appointment when advocating on behalf of your ward and when submitting for payment. Some GALs choose to pick up the Order of Appointment when coming to the Court to view the file. This remains entirely up to the GAL and the Court.

What documents should I be making copies of when reviewing the court file?
Generally speaking, GALs should make copies of the Notice of Petition and Petition, the lease, past stipulations and any other documents that are relevant to the Court case.

Where can I make copies?
GALs can make copies of the file in any of the Court’s Help Centers (formerly called “Help Centers”). They should introduce themselves as GALs to the Help Center Court Attorneys who work there and ask if it is a good time to make copies. Copies should be limited to relevant documents only.


Questions about GAL duties:

Once appointed, how do I initiate contact with my ward?
Once appointed, it is suggested that you write a letter of introduction to your ward. In that letter you should explain that you have been appointed by a Housing Court Judge to be their Guardian Ad Litem, what this means, and the fact that you will seeking to meet with them on a particular date in order to gain a better understanding of their case.

For a sample letter, click sample GAL letter of introduction. Please note that this letter is just a sample.

Should I make efforts to meet with every ward I am appointed to advocate on behalf of?
Yes. The expectation is that, upon being appointed to a case, you will arrange to meet with the ward in question. Depending on the type of case and whether there are any security concerns, a meeting can take place either in the ward’s home or in the courthouse.

GALs have also been known to coordinate home visits with the assigned APS caseworker. Either way, you should make every effort to make contact with your ward in order to gain an understanding of their thoughts on their Housing Court case.

What if I am unable to establish contact with my ward?
If you are unable to establish contact with your ward, you should make the judge assigned to the case aware of your efforts and how they have been unsuccessful to date.

What is the GAL Case Summary?
The GAL Case Summary is a form which allows GALs to document their assessment of a case, advocacy efforts, and plan of action for a particular ward. For more information on the GAL Case Summary, click on Case Summary Directive. Click GAL Case Summary template for a copy of this form.

Do I have to complete a GAL Case Summary for each case?
Yes. Completion of this form is required. In fact, a Judge may ask a GAL provide their completed form at any time.

Once a case has come to resolution, how long should I keep the GAL Case Summary?
You should keep this form for 2-3 years after the case has come to resolution.

What if I am sick, stuck in traffic, or otherwise unable to make a court appearance in time or altogether?
If you cannot make a Court appearance or anticipate being late, it is incumbent upon you to contact the Court and make the Judge’s Court Attorney aware. Be mindful of the default time. You can find the number to the Part where the Judge is sitting in the Term Sheet. To obtain a copy of a Term Sheet you may contact the GAL Program Coordinator’s Assistant at 646-386-4200.

Failure to make the Court aware of your inability to appear, may place your ward at risk for eviction and may also result in disciplinary action taken against you.

Can I grant access to my ward’s apartment when they are refusing to do so and such access is needed in order to perform a heavy duty cleaning/necessary repairs?
No. Under no circumstances should a GAL grant access to their ward’s apartment. Under the law, a GAL has no power to do so. Only an Article 81 Guardian can grant such access. However, you may request that the Judge order access.

Can I sign papers on behalf of my ward in order to reinstate benefits needed to resolve a case?
No. Under the law, a GAL has no power to sign on behalf of their ward to secure benefits. Only an Article 81 Guardian can do so.

What if the petitioner’s attorney wants to settle the case by the respondent/ward vacating the apartment?
You may make a recommendation to the Judge but cannot agree to this by way of stip. The issue should go before the Judge.

Are there other issues that I should not agree to by way of stip?
Similarly, a GAL should not agree to: removing pet or not allowing a family member to remain in the apartment by way of stip. Although a GAL may make a recommendation to the Judge, all these issues should go before the Court.

Is the ward entitled to obtain an attorney?
Yes. Unless the ward has an Article 81 Guardian.

What if conflict arises between the GAL and the attorney?
Both parties should present their concerns to the Judge. The Judge will decide who will prevail.

Whose responsibility is it to seek a One Shot Deal, the GAL’s or the APS caseworker’s?
If the case is known to APS, it is the responsibility of the APS caseworker to apply for a One Shot Deal. However, APS caseworkers will often seek the help of a GAL in trying to secure the documents necessary to ensure that the grant is awarded. So, it is important that the GAL and caseworker work as a team.

Should I be contacting the APS caseworker for an update on the status of an Article 81 application or One Shot Deal grant?
Absolutely. APS caseworkers juggle many cases at once and are often in the field. It is therefore wise to follow-up on agreements made, especially as the next court date draws near.


Questions about APS:

How do I find out who is the assigned caseworker?
The name of the assigned caseworker and their supervisor is sometimes listed on the GAL request form. You may find this form in the Court file. You can also call APS’ general number at 212-630-1853 for information on who has been assigned to a case.

What can I do if I am having trouble reaching an APS caseworker?
If you are having trouble reaching an APS caseworker, you should not hesitate to contact their supervisor. Often times APS caseworkers are in the field and therefore unavailable. For this reason, supervisors expect to receive such calls.

If you do not reach a supervisor, try contacting that person’s supervisor.

Where can I find a phone listing of APS caseworkers?
Contact the Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for NYC Courts, and ask to speak with the GAL Program Coordinator's Assistant. That person will be able to email you the latest list.


Questions concerning GAL workload:

What if my availability to volunteer for a particular borough changes?
If you decide that you are either able or unable to take cases in a particular borough, you should contact the Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for NYC Courts at 646-386-4200. Please inform the GAL Program Coordinator's Assistant of your change in availability and this person will, in turn, make all the appropriate Supervising Judges aware.

What should I do if I am not able to take cases for a short period of time but wish to remain on the list?
If you are unable to accept any more cases for a short period of time (you are going on an extended vacation, have to many cases, are hospitalized, etc.) you should contact the Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for NYC Courts at 646-386-4200. Please inform the GAL Program Coordinator's Assistant of your circumstances and she will place you on "hold" for the specific period requested.

What does it mean if I am placed on "hold?"
“Hold” means that the Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for NYC Courts will inform all relevant Supervising Judges that they should not provide your name in response to GAL requests for a specified period.


Questions about no longer being a GAL:

What should I do if I no longer want to be a GAL?
If, for some reason, you decide that you no longer want to be a GAL it is very important that you contact Office of the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for NYC Courts immediately. Please inform the GAL Program Coordinator's Assistant so that your name can be removed from the list.

Do I remain responsible for my open cases once I request to be removed from the list?
Yes. Even if you request to be removed from the GAL list, you still remain responsible for all pending cases. This means that you must see all your pending cases to resolution.

What should I do if I wish to be relieved from a case?
In circumstances where you wish to be relieved from a case, you must ask the Judge assigned to the case for permission. It is always up to the discretion of the Judge whether or not to grant your request.

What if the Judge does not grant me permission to be relieved from a case?
If a Judge denies your request to be relieved from a case, you must remain on the case and see it to resolution. The Deputy Chief Administrative Judge's Office cannot make the relevant Judge decide otherwise.

If I wish to be relieved, can I just send the Judge a letter or leave them a voice mail? No. It is important that you appear in Court and make the request in person. You can either wait for the next court date or request an Order to Show Cause (OSC), that would enable you to make the request on a specified date.


Questions about receiving payment for cases:

Under what circumstances should I expect to receive payment for my work on a GAL case?
The Human Resources Administration (HRA) agrees to compensate GALs pursuant to a Court order when HRA petitions the Court for the appointment of a GAL for an APS client. Compensation is also rendered when the Court makes a sua sponte appointment for a tenant who is an existing APS client or later becomes an APS client during the course of the Housing Court proceeding.

Cases where APS is not involved are considered pro-bono and, as such, receive no compensation. For more information on how to secure payment, click on Payment Procedure and Forms.

What should I do if I have not received payment for services rendered as a GAL, even though I submitted all the necessary paperwork quite some time ago?
If you have been waiting for payment for more than a month, you should contact HRA’s Office of Legal Affairs at (212) 331-5032 for an update on the processing of your submission.


Questions regarding indemnification

What happens if a ward sues me?
In general, you are entitled to defense and indemnification by the State of New York if a ward sues you while acting as a GAL.
The State of New York, Office of the Attorney General issued a Formal Opinion Letter providing for defense and indemnification of New York City Civil Court, Housing Part GALs who are sued by a ward in a case where the GAL received no compensation.
Compensated GALs are also entitled to defense and indemnification by the State of New York, should a ward ever sue them, as per Public Officers Law Section 17 (1) (w).
In sum, the duty to defend and indemnify is contingent upon certain conditions being met including providing the Attorney General with the summons, complaint, process, notice, demand or pleading within 5 days of service and the GAL’s full cooperation. Moreover, the alleged act or omission must have reportedly occurred while the GAL was acting within the scope of his or her duties.
For more details on how to proceed and what to expect should a ward sue, please read Public Officers Law Section 17 in its entirety or contact the GAL Program Coordinator at 646-386-4200.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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