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 have been appointed counsel from among the participating groups, who then assist them in bringing vacatur motions throughout New York City. Securing dismissal of charges that turned survivors into defendants and branded them convicted criminals has helped our clients continue to move forward in their lives. Since the project's inception, CAL has secured the complete dismissal of more than 100 convictions in New York County alone.
Barbara Zolot coordinates the project for CAL.