Apr 272012

While I (hopefully) won't need a court order. I'm posting this here in case someone finds my blog. I was originally posted here: 

In regard to the petition Order that will be signed by the Judge and the format posted here previously, the law clerk said that they plan to add a section that I need to complete application forms and pay any fees (which was what the NYS Attorney General asked be inserted into the order).

Following is the format I use for my Declaratory Judgment (One and the Same)and final Order. I have seen other One and Same formats online that are different, but this one seemed to work in my case.

order.pdf [170.79 KiB] 

declaratory.pdf [297.45 KiB]

Feb 222012

I asked the help desk for the New York Supreme Court whether I needed a separate petitions to go with each proposed order or whether similar issues should be lumped together in the same petition with multiple proposed orders. This is what they said:

Even though the information may be similar or the same, you should prepare a separate petition for each proposed order you are requesting to be signed.

Update 12 Mar 2012

Another update. I asked them about court fees and the like. This is what they said:

As previously stated, Erie County does not require an index number nor an RJI be purchased unless you want the original documents to be on file with the Erie County Clerk. If you do want the original documents filed with the Erie County Clerk's Office, you would need to purchase an index number and the fee would be $210.00. That fee would cover all the petitions since this is regarding one specific case.

Feb 132012

Searching through some online boards, I found this suggested wording for a court order of one-and-the-same:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED and DECREED that the following be and is hereby established:

1) The person named XXX XXX XXXX, born in XXXXXXXXXX, Kingdom of Italy on (DATE), to (FATHER'S NAME and MOTHER'S NAME) of XXXXXXXXXX, Kingdom of Italy, is one and the same person as YYY YYY YYYY, born (DATE), in XXXXXXXXXX, Kingdom of Italy; "


… the petition would be called a "Petition for a Miscellaneous Order" and the order is titled "Miscellaneous Order" because it's not part of any contested case (e.g. Johnson vs. Smith).

Feb 082012

This was originally posted by zsnyder to the Italian Citizenship Message Board. I hope he or she does not mind me reposting here. It's primarily for my benefit since I'm using this blog to record my efforts. But perhaps someone else will find this someday that does not stumble across the original post. I know that it took me a long long time to find examples of people who tried to get a court order on their own without a lawyer. So hopefully these re-posts will help someone else's search. Just give credit to the OP, not to me.

After collecting all of the documents requested by the consulate for my jure sanquinis application I noticed that my grandfathers birth certificate contained numerous errors.

The names of him, his father and mother all contained misspellings and his birthdate was off by a few days when compared to his documents from later in life. To make matters worse, he didn’t go by his given Italian name (Natale) but a shortened version of the english translation (Christmas to Chris). This shortened name was recorded on every government document since birth.

I took a shot and contacted the consulate to see what they thought and the response was to fix the birth certificate or find another another route.

Reading the wonderfully informative posts by jschotz and his dealings with amending certificates in court I started to form the case to amend my grandfathers birth record.

I had the birth and marriage records of my great grandfather and great grandmother so that should take care of their names.

My mothers marriage record had my grandfather listed as Chris (Natale) Mento so that helped with fixing his name.

I then contacted the church where he was baptized to see what information they had. Turns out they had him on record with his given Italian name, the date of birth that matched what was listed on later documents, the correct spelling of his parents names, his godparents names (not needed but a nice genealogical find) and in a column noted “Notunda”, his name listed as Natale (Chris) Mento when he married my grandmother.

So now I have two pieces of evidence for each correction with the exception of his birthdate.

For the second piece of evidence I contacted the National Personnel Records Center and requested any information they had on him during his enlistment in the Navy. They sent me his discharge papers which listed a birthdate that matched the baptismal record and his name listed as Chris Anthony Mento.

With these documents in hand I wrote up my case.

*** I should state that I am not a lawyer and comments about my case from here on are only my opinion. What worked for me may not work for you. ***

I decided to file in Philadelphia as they have an e-file service and since I have family in the area, a place to stay should I need to appear. Through the website I chose Trial Division – Civil, Program: Petitions, Case Type: Miscellaneous Petition. It generated a case number, I uploaded my documents and exhibits and paid the fees.

Three days later the Protonotary entered the documents into the system. When I saw the update I printed out two copies of the papers that had his stamp of approval and sent them to the Philadelphia County Sheriffs office to have them served to Department of Vital Records in New Castle, PA. I sent two copies as one was to be served and the court in New Castle also wanted a copy for some reason. I also had to send two checks to the Philadelphia sheriff as they don’t deputize outside the county. The first check was for them to mail my documents to the sheriff in New Castle and the second was for the New Castle sheriff to serve Vital Records. Also included in the packet was a SASE and a sheriffs return service document that would be mailed back to me when Vital Records was served.

Here is the semi-redacted Notice to Defend, Petition and Exhibit Statement:

Notice to Defend.pdf


Exhibit Statement.pdf

I found this template for writing up briefs. It’s for Apple’s Pages application but I saw many others for Word and Word like programs. Makes life much easier.

Court Brief Template

You may notice that Linda Caniglia is listed on the Notice to Defend but not on the Petition or Order. Well, apparently she retired the year before but is still listed on official documents. I was asked by a clerk of the court at a later date to change the respondent to Pennsylvania Department of Health, Division of Vital Records. I assume if you file in PA for corrections that the later is what you want to use.

I haven’t included any of my exhibits but I did want to post the Exhibit Statement for reference. The original birth record says it’s illegal to duplicate this copy by photostat or photograph. The last thing I wanted to do was submit something to the court that would jeopardize my case. jschotz recommended going this route and it seemed to work well for me. The court never asked to see the birth record.

Two weeks after filing a judge was assigned to the case and about a month after filing the Pennsylvania Department of Health responded with a letter of no opposition.

I thought the case was proceeding rather quickly but boy was I in for a surprise. By this time it was mid-November, two months after filing, and nothing has been updated on the website about my case. My appointment with the consulate was only a month and half away.

I called the court and after being transferred around for a while I ended up speaking to one of the friendliest and most helpful clerks. It seems that my case was causing all sorts of confusion in the court.

The first issue is that I had my mother listed as a petitioner. Since she does not reside in Philadelphia county the court felt that it had no jurisdiction and the case should be filed in the county of her residence. I explained that she was listed to lend credence to the petition as she is the daughter of my grandfather. The clerk understood but instructed me to remove her entirely and resubmit the Petition. I asked if I need to file a motion or pay more fees and she no, just email it to her.

Several days later another issue pops up. The clerk that I've been dealing with calls and says they need a letter from Pennsylvania Department of Health stating that I’ve attempted to amend the birth certificate, that PDH DVR has denied my request and that a court order is needed. I send the request to DVR and they fax me a letter a week later which I scan and email to the clerk I’ve been dealing with.

PA DOH letter.pdf

I give her call after sending the email to make sure the letter is acceptable and if she thinks there may be any other issues. She says everything looks fine. I ask her if she has any idea when the hearing might be and if I should file a motion to do it by phone. She says there won’t be any hearing. That seemed odd. We hang up and the next day she calls me and says the judge wants to sign off on my case and that I need to send her an order right away.


By the end of the afternoon I have the order signed by the judge sent to me by fax but I’d have to wait for the ones with a seal to come by mail before forwarding to DVR to have the amendments made.

I should note that two items were left off of that order. One was line 5, which I’ll get to in a moment and one piece that jschotz had on his:

Issue a new certified long form copy of corrected record to said Petitioner within fifteen (15) days of service of the Court Order upon the Respondent.

That last section is important as I found out the hard way that DVR will sit on the corrections. Even though I had overnighted the Order along with an overnight return envelope they sat on the correction for weeks.

It’s now December 20th and I’m about to leave the country, I still don’t have the corrected birth certificate and my appointment is in two weeks. I call DVR and they tell me the correction is being held up because the new birthdate is two days after the original file date. Their system won’t allow this. I’m absolutely furious that they just now bring this to my attention. 

I contact the clerk in Philadelphia about this issue and she asks me to add in line 5 to the Order and email it to her. I tell her I’m leaving the country the next night and she says not to worry about it. The judge signs the new order right there and it’s faxed to DVR along with official versions going out in the mail. Can you say life saver?

December 30th the corrected birth certificate arrives and my appointment is five days later.

In short:

Look everywhere for documents. Sometimes you’ll be surprised at what you find.

Collect all of the evidence you can to make your case. It’s not like it’s a murder case. The judge just wants to see how you’re getting from point A to point B.

Make a copy of everything that you will use in court send it to PDH with along with the application form and correction form. Tell them that you need a letter explaining that a court order is needed to make changes when they deny you.

Write up your case and have others proof it for you. Keep it simple and to the point.

It may seem daunting but the court is there for you.

Jan 102012

I have a genealogical copy of my grandfather's birth certificate. For some reason, I was able to get that a while back but I need a court order to obtain a certified copy (see below). He was born over 100 years ago. He died over 40 years ago. But I still need a court order.

So I'm going to try to compile together the information I get on obtaining and putting together that court order. I'm just getting start started.

I first emailed a help desk at the NY State Supreme Court of Erie County. The person at the City Clerk's Office in Buffalo said that it would need to be a State Supreme Court order. From the court web site, it seems that they are the only court that can order the government to take some action. This is what the help desk said:

"In order to obtain a court order you must prepare a Petition, which outlines you were are, what the relationship is to the person whose birth record you want, along with the purpose for the record. You may want to attach any documents you may have supporting your reasons for your request for a Supreme Court Order. Since you want to do this without the assistance of an attorney, you also must prepare a proposed Order for the Judge to sign if your application is approved. This office does not have any pre-printed forms for such a matter. Once you have prepared your petition & proposed order, they need to be submitted to the Chief Clerk's Office of Supreme Court in the county where your grandfather was born. If in Erie County, the address is 25 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo. NY 14202."

I think from various things I found on the web, I can put together both a Petition and a proposed Order. What I am uncertain about is how to file a RJI (request for judicial intervention) and how to obtain an index number and whether I will need to do anything to issue a summons to the clerk of Buffalo, as suggested on various blog sites.

Update 11 Jan 2012

New response from the help desk:

"As previously stated, the Petition, any supporting documentation and proposed order need to be submitted to the Chief Clerk's Office of Supreme Court in the county where your grandfather was born. If in Erie County, the address is 25 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo. NY 14202. Erie County does not require an index number nor an RJI unless you want the original documents to be on file with the Erie County Clerk. The petitioner can by-pass the County Clerk altogether and go straight to the Special Term Judge and take the order directly to Vital Records once the order has been signed. Regarding serving the Vital Records Office, I suggest you include a cover letter asking the judge if it is required to serve them."

Based on this, and I followed up with more questions, it sounds like I can send a cover letter, a copy of the Petition, and a copy of the Proposed Order to the Special Term Judge, which now for Erie County appears to be Judge D'Amico. He may require that I "serve" the Vital Records Office or not. Who knows, maybe I would not even need to appear before him. Fingers crossed.

Update 11 Jan 2012

Another response today:

"Your petition would go the Supreme Court Civil Special Term Judge not the County Special Term Judge. Your petition should be sent to the Chief Clerk's Office at 25 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo. NY 14202 because the application must first be logged in so that Supreme Court has a record of receiving the application and for tracking purposes. Paperwork should be sent directly to a judge only after the case has been assigned to that judge."

Update 12 Jan 2012

Response today:

"You should send your petition, proposed order and supporting exhibits to the Chief Clerk's Office. I would also suggest a cover letter, listing your complete mailing address, phone number and email address(optional) if the court needs to get in touch with you. I would also suggest including a self-addressed stamped envelope so that the order, petition, and exhibits can be returned to you once the order has been signed by the judge."

a genealogical copy of my grandfather's birth certificate from the City of Buffalo