In 2010, the New York State legislature enacted the Vacating Convictions for Trafficked Persons law, C.P.L. § 440.10 (1)(i), which allowed survivors of human trafficking to bring motions in trial court to clear their records of convictions resulting from their trafficking.
Though such individuals unfairly bore the onus of a criminal record, the legislation provided for no right to counsel on these vacating motions, and despite the amazing efforts of pioneering advocacy groups in this area, the ensuing years witnessed only a limited number of motions, owing to a lack of resources and manpower.
Beginning in June 2013, CAL joined forces with other indigent provider groups and the Urban Justice League’s Sex Worker’s Project to change that. In a first-of-its kind pilot project, eligible individuals will be appointed counsel from among the participating groups, who will assist them in bringing vacatur motions throughout New York City. Securing dismissal of charges that turned victims into defendants and branded them convicted criminals will help our clients continue to move forward in their lives. It is hoped that 60 motions will be brought on behalf of survivors of human trafficking across all five boroughs in the first year.
CAL collaborates with the Urban Justice League, Appellate Advocates, the Legal Aid Society, and the Office of the Appellate Defender in this exciting venture.
Barbara Zolot and Lisa Packard coordinate the project for CAL.