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For immediate release: May 11, 2005
For further information: Winnie Comfort
Tammy Kendig
609-292-9580

New Jersey Courts to Offer Improved Customer Service through Ombudsman Program

The New Jersey Judiciary soon will have an ombudsman in each vicinage to help the public navigate the legal process, today announced Judge Philip S. Carchman, acting administrative director of the courts.

The ombudsman will assist litigants and other members of the public by explaining court procedures, programs and services; helping self-represented litigants; directing the public to appropriate offices and court staff; working with the various divisions to resolve customer complaints; referring customers to relevant social service agencies or other local agencies; distributing brochures and informational material; and developing court tours and community outreach programs.

Although the ombudsman will not be able to offer legal advice, he or she will be able to provide contact information to lawyer referral services in each county.

"Quality service is one of the core values of the New Jersey Judiciary, and the ombudsman in each vicinage will help us fulfill our mission of providing excellent customer service to litigants, attorneys, and the public," said Judge Carchman.

The ombudsman program began in 1996 as a pilot in the Camden Vicinage and soon was adopted by the Essex Vicinage, and later by the Hudson Vicinage. Five additional vicinages have staff members serving a part-time ombudsman role. Under the new guidelines adopted by the Judiciary, all 15 vicinages will have an ombudsman in the near future.

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