By Gina Martinez
The Allen Lawyers Guild teamed up with the Queens district attorney’s office to sponsor the Second Chance Warrant Forgiveness Program Saturday at Jamaica’s Greater Allan A.M.E Cathedral.
Defense attorneys helped Queens residents resolve outstanding summons warrants for disorderly conduct, trespassing, urinating in public, loitering, unlawful possession of marijuana and other minor offenses in a makeshift court room in the church.
About 200 people showed up to get help clearing summons and in the parking lot there were about a dozen booths manned by several lawyers and the Queens D.A’s office offering pamphlets and free legal advise. One of the booths that offered legal advise was the Queens D.A’s office. Carmencita Guiterrez, from the office of Immigrant Affairs in the DA’s office was offering people information about job opportunities, health, and immigration questions.
“We want to make sure people have the information they need to move forward in life,” she said. “Anyone who seeks information can get help regardless of immigration status, it does not matter. We help all crime victims. Their nationality does not matter. We we do our best to guide them.”
Jesse Sligh, executive assistant district attorney at the DA’s office, said the office was sponsoring the event because of demand from the community.
“We believe that there is a need for an event like this because we’ve heard from the community,” he said. “Outstanding warrants have caused some unduly harsh things to happen to people in regards to housing, education and jobs, We’re trying to ameliorate that for them. People who have summons it affects them in moving forward in life and that’s why we’re here. It has some negative impact.”
According to the DA’s office, there have been warrant forgiveness program events in every other borough. Sundays was the first of its kind in Queens and depending on the success they plan on returning.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart