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The Office of Policy
and Planning was founded by the New York State Unified Court System to provide
assistance and support in the court systems. 
It oversees New York’s problem-solving courts. Problem-solving courts
pinpoint the latent issues and causes that bring people into court and use new
and inventive approaches to address those issues. These problem-solving courts
consist of Drug Courts, Veterans’ Courts, and Mental Health courts, Human
Trafficking Intervention Courts, and Adolescent Diversion Courts (OPP, 2017).
Each of these problem-solving courts enhances the working relation between
individuals, families, and communities through the Office of Policy and
Planning. The Office of Policy and Planning aid with these courts by offering assistance
and leadership on the management, operational and legal issues from rigorous
judicial oversight, coordination with outside services, appropriate treatment,
and increased communication among government agencies (OPP, 2017). The Office
of Policy and Planning also develops the best practice standards for the courts,
allowing justice and fairness for all New Yorkers. Its goal is to improve all
aspects of our court system. It reviews efficient ways for court operations and
improve case processing. In addition, it also creates legal and operational
seminars to court employees as well as overseeing special projects for the
Chief Judge and Chief Administrative Judge, promoting in the implementation of
new legislation, representing the court system at local and national
conferences, and taking part in numerous committees and commissions addressing the
court system and criminal justice issues (OPP, 2017). Along with these special
projects, the Office of Policy and Planning takes part in early resolution of
civil cases, education and training for Driving While Intoxicated courts, the
creation and application of the new Universal Case Management System, and
Native American bail reform (OPP, 2017). 
The Office of Policy and Planning modifies strategies and practice
standards according to the change in laws and policies within New York State.

For more than two
decade, New York’s population has grown vastly and so has court filings. To combat
this growth, NYS Unified Court System began to create problem-solving courts.
These courts aid judges and court staffs engage with the litigants and the
community. The Office of Policy and Planning is charged with helping the
communication between these courts. By doing so, the OPP strengthens the
court’s relationship with the community, increases community confidence and
access in the criminal justice system, and provides faster and new sanctions to
prevent backlogging and long-winded cases (OPP, 2017). From opening six
community courts as of January 2017 to combatting and educating court
administration on Human trafficking, the OPP is connecting and communicating with
local courts to develop new strategies to identify and improve services for
mental health cases, trafficking victims, community courts cases, sex offense
cases, veteran cases and drug treatment court cases in both the criminal and
juvenile justice systems (OPP, 2017). As for drug courts, it is rooted in 1989
in Miami, Florida. Drug courts developed due to the ceaseless cycle of
addiction and recidivism. As a form of intervention by the court, the defense,
prosecution, treatment, education, and law enforcement work together to combat
addiction and recidivism rates. The Drug court allows non-violent addicted
offenders the possibility of entering into a contract—entered into by the
defendant, the defense attorney, the district attorney, and the court—which
provides a reduced sentence and makes it less likely for these addicts to
recidivate (OPP, 2017). The Office of Policy and Planning continuously
evaluates and assists the Drug courts and administration, which helps with new
drug treatment programs and legislation of drug laws.  The OPP’s continuous evaluation helps to
expand these problem-solving courts in New York State. It allows the court
administration to change along with the laws and policies of the state.

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I advocate for justice
and fairness for all New Yorkers, and I believe that continuously educating and
training court administration, judges, and lawyers, after they have already
taken their positions, is vital to a just and fair court system/criminal
justice system. I carry this idea with me as I plan to attend law school after
graduation. As well as graduating John Jay, I plan to take a few months
studying for LSATs in September and December and continuing my internship at
Challenge Charter Middle School, where I tutor students in Math and English
Language Arts and help create lesson plans for these same subjects. When I
attend law school, I plan to study family law. My main motivation is to assist
the most vulnerable victims of the court system, which are children. I believe
that the policies have to evolve continuously when it comes to children and the
lack of information about the needs of children among many politicians and
legislators is quite unappealing and disruptive to the court system and
government agencies that try to help child, ACS and CPS. The Office of Policy
and Planning does just that; they evaluate and continuously educate New York
State court system. The OPP create programs, seminars, and join committees
engaged in educating, evaluating, and ensuring a fair court system (OPP, 2017).
As a prospective judge, I would constantly need to educate myself on the law
and policies around the court system, so knowing how the Office of Policy and
Planning function is beneficial to my further understanding of the court
system. I am looking forward to meeting people, who assist in educating the
judges, the lawyers, victims, and offenders, and court administration. I also
am excited to read about the topics and policies that we will need to make
memorandums for. I am interested to see the workings of the courts system first
hand. This experience is pivotal and I am going to do it to the best of my
ability. It will allow me to gain the proper insight into legal policies,
writing format, and conversational skills for a legal workplace. In a way, I am
gaining a social network and a hands-on education in policy and court
administration, which can hopefully benefit my career and education in my
future prospects as a lawyer and a judge. It is also great to be in the
presence of Sherry Klein Heitler.

Sherry Klein Heitler is the Chief of Policy and Planning. She grew up in the
Bronx where she attended Bronx High School of Science in 1961. She furthered
her education at Hunter College in 1964 and New York University’s Masters program
in 1966. She then took some time off to be Assistant Director of Admissions at
Long Island University, where she ensured diversity among the student body. She
then attended Fordham University School of Law in 1976, and she was admitted to
the New York State Bar in 1977. In 1977, she also became a Law Assistant in the
Civil Court of the City of New York, and two years later, she founded her own
firm, Heitler & Levy, P.C. At the same time, she also taught Family Law at
Baruch College, City University, and she was an Arbitrator for the Civil Court
of the City of New York, where she later got elected as a judge. In January of
1996, she was designated to sit as a New York State Acting Supreme Court
Justice in New York County and she began her term in 2001. She went on to be
appointed as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Term of NYS Supreme Court,
Center for Complex Litigation, and as an Administrative Judge for Civil
Matters. It wasn’t until March 2015 when she was appointed as the Chief of
Policy and Planning for New York State Unified Court System’s Office of Court
Administration (OPP, 2017). Honestly, I was surprised that she taught Family
Law, which is the exact field of law that I want to study. She is the example I
want to follow; opening my own firm, working in different areas of law, being
appointed as a judge in the New York State Supreme Court and then helping
educate and assist judges in management practices to promote better outcomes
for litigants, victims, and communities, these goals are a reflection of mine.
There is a tremendous feeling that comes with knowing that the path you dream
about is possible because someone has already done it, and now, I am working
along with that same person. 

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