RALEIGH — Campbell Law School’s Blanchard Community Law Clinic will serve approximately 60 residents of Edgecombe, Nash, and Wilson counties at a free Driver’s License Restoration Clinic on Friday, March 4.
“Having a suspended driver’s license impacts almost every aspect of a person’s life, from housing, to famåily, to employment,” explained Professor Emily Mistr of the Blanchard Community Law Clinic. “It’s incredibly difficult to get a job without a valid license, even if the job doesn’t involve driving.”
This clinic aims to serve individuals whose licenses are suspended due to unpaid fines and fees or failures to appear in court on traffic charges. Campbell Law students and their supervising attorneys will assist participants with completing paperwork to ask the court to remit unpaid monies and talk to the county district attorneys about resolving traffic cases where people failed to appear in court. Additionally, if a client has other matters outside of Edgecombe, Nash or Wilson counties that are currently suspending his or her license, students plan to work to resolve those issues through the Blanchard Community Law Clinic’s regular driver’s license restoration process. Registration for this clinic is closed.
The clinic is offered through a partnership between the Blanchard Community Law Clinic, the Equal Access to Justice Commission’s Faith and Justice Alliance and the District Attorney’s Office for Edgecombe, Nash and Wilson counties.
“It is the first of its kind in the state to offer this type of service to an entire multi-county prosecutorial district,” Mistr said.
North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby added, “The Driver’s License Restoration Clinic represents the Equal Access to Justice Commission’s Faith and Justice Alliance’s commitment to serve local communities and to form partnerships that address the needs of individuals.”
In Wilson County, 23.1% of the population live in poverty, while 28% of residents in Edgecombe County and 20% in Nash County live in poverty — all well above the statewide rate poverty rate of 15.4%.
The Pro Bono Resource Center and the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission worked closely with the Administrative Office of the Courts to provide elected District Attorney Robert Evans a list of traffic cases in which unpaid fines and fees were leading to a driver’s license suspension. Evans then filed Motions to Remit in several thousand cases, targeting cases where the debt was at least five years old and the convictions were not safety-related, thereby eliminating these burdens upon communities and individuals.
“We are pleased to join with our colleagues from the Campbell Law School and the Pro Bono Resource Center in bringing this valuable benefit to our citizens,” Evans said. “The ability to drive legally, without the stress of court appearances and fines, will put individuals back on the road to personal success and productivity, which benefits our entire community.”
The efforts of Evans’ office in District 8 have been instrumental in eliminating these debts, Mistr added.
“The March 4 clinic aims to provide additional services to those whose licenses still remain suspended following the mass debt relief efforts,” she said.
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Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,500 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2021, Campbell Law celebrated 45 years of graduating legal leaders and a dozen years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.