Archives of the Mayor's Press Office

Date: Thursday, May 17, 2001
Release # 158-01

Contact: Sunny Mindel/Matthew Higgins
(212) 788-2958


Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani today joined Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye to open the Harlem Community Justice Center, the first full-scale court operation in Harlem in 40 years. The creation of the new multi-jurisdictional community court, which will focus on juvenile justice and landlord tenant disputes, is a testament to the neighborhood's revitalization. The Center is located in a landmark building at 170 East 121st, which underwent a $3 million renovation by the City, including restoration to the facade, roof, two courtrooms and the upgrade of many of the building's fixtures.

"The opening of the Harlem Community Justice Center marks a new step in the resurgence of this proud, historic community," the Mayor said. "New York City's progress in modernizing our court system communicates the importance and essential dignity of the legal process. But it is not just the building itself, but the innovative practices that will occur inside that will help New York City retain its status as the pre-eminent local law enforcement community in the nation."

"The thorny problems of neighborhoods cannot be tackled in a courtroom alone, without the participation of the community," Chief Judge Kaye said. "The Harlem Community Justice Center relies on strong partnerships forged within the community that it serves, including local law enforcement, governmental agencies, educational institutions, and social service providers, to more effectively resolve conflicts involving families, youths and neighbors. The Center's creation is a recognition of the fact that achieving just outcomes often requires more than simply a court order-a whole network of support and resources from the community must also come into play."

Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman said, "One of the most exciting features of the Harlem Community Justice Center is the Juvenile Intervention Court, which takes our successful statewide drug court program to a new level of deterrence-one that uniquely targets young people. This court will intervene early to steer youngsters who are abusing drugs or who are at risk of such behavior away from a tragic course of addiction as adults. This will have invaluable long-term benefit for the community of Harlem by helping troubled youths avoid further misbehavior and become active, engaged productive citizens."

Features of the Harlem Community Justice Center include:

The Harlem Community Justice Center is being implemented in stages, beginning with the Youth Court and Housing Court, and with the Family Court component opening this summer. Acting Supreme Court Justice Rolando T. Acosta will preside over all Family and Housing Court matters. The Center is located in the heart of East Harlem at 170 East 121st Street in a newly renovated former magistrate's courthouse. Its jurisdiction covers East and Central Harlem.

Planned in association with the Center for Court Innovation (the research and development arm of the state court system), the creation of the Justice Center reflects a national trend begun in 1993 when New York's groundbreaking Midtown Community Court was first established. Since then community courts have sprung up in dozens of locations across the country, including Connecticut, Oregon, Minnesota, Florida and Texas, based on the original New York model.

New York City's $2.5 billion court construction plan has allowed the City to complete a new Queens Civil Court and a Bronx Housing Court. In addition, the City wiill break ground on a combined Family and Supreme Court Criminal Term courthouse in Brooklyn next month and a new Bronx Criminal courthouse before the fall. Today's opening marks the third community court in New York City, following the opening of the Red Hook Community Justice Center in June of last year.