Today, the Clinic made history! Judge Karen Eady-Williams granted FIVE Certificate of Relief (COR) petitions for our clients today at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse! Claire Donnelly, Gatlin Groberg, and Tierra Ragland represented the clients under the supervision of our wonderful supervising attorney, Jason Huber.
Our faithful followers to this blog are probably well aware of the COR project that the Clinic has been working on over the past few years. For those not so familiar, a COR petition is a rehabilitative measure created by the legislature in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-173.2 that allows qualified petitioners “relief” from their past criminal conviction. CORs are particularly helpful in advancing employment and furthering education. After a judge grants a petition, the successful petitioner can present it to prospective employers as proof that they have made amends for their past actions. Because these individuals may previously have been turned away from jobs due to their criminal record, a COR provides many exciting opportunities. Each of our clients today were very deserving and are incredibly grateful for this opportunity.
One of the cases today presented a very complicated issue of law, to which even the Assistant District Attorney remarked that there was “no precedence or guidance for the Court.” The issue regarded whether a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) counted as a disqualifying conviction under the COR statute. Tierra submitted a brief and made a compelling legal argument on behalf of her client explaining why a PJC should not count as a disqualifying conviction. Judge Eady-Williams found the argument very convincing and the COR was granted!
Congrats to the Clinic on the FIVE successful petitions, and the effective advocacy on a matter of first impression!