Seeking a second chance

Published 5:25 pm Friday, July 29, 2022

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WELDON – Halifax Community College, Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Northampton County branch of the NAACP partnered to sponsor the 7th annual Operation Restore Hope event here Tuesday night.

Tony Burnette, President of the Northampton County Chapter of the NAACP, was among the sponsors of the Operation Restore Hope event. Photo by MacKenzie Moody

On a mission to help an underserved and low-income community, the program encourages citizens with criminal charges to bring a certified copy of their record to determine if they qualify for an expungement. In addition, the event featured a job fair and enrollment information at Halifax Community College.

Through a seminar on record expungements, a panel of judges, lawyers, and county clerks in the local judicial district guided citizens through getting a criminal conviction off their record. The panel consisted of Superior Court Judge Norlan Graves, Northampton County Clerk of Superior Laquita Green Cooper, and attorneys Geoffery Davis and Sam Webb.

Each panelist gave information based on their legal experience with expungements and guided people through the process.

Judge Graves gave an extensive PowerPoint presentation on what exactly expungements are and the different categories within the system. Cooper distributed packets of the paperwork needed to receive an expungement for a charge, and attorneys Davis and Webb offered information on how to get proper legal advice.

“The main thing is motivating them to take action. It can become easy to do nothing as the years go by and get used to being in a situation. Hope is never lost,” said Judge Graves

District Court Judges of District 6, Vershenia Johnson and Theresa Freeman, gave encouraging words to people of the community who are seeking a second chance in their life. Citizens in Bertie, Halifax, Halifax, Hertford, and Northampton counties are all who this program will help.

District Court Judge Theresa Freeman offers words of encouragement to those who are seeking a second chance in their life. Photo by MacKenzie Moody

“Please don’t believe the notion that once you’ve been court-involved you cannot get a good job. I am telling you, that is not true. I have seen it happen first-hand across the hall from my courtroom. So be encouraged and know that we are here for you. We are ready to sign when it is appropriate,” said Judge Freeman.

Northampton County NAACP President Tony Burnette emphasized how everyone makes mistakes in their life and that this program strives to help encourage and inform those who need it most.

“What about those folks out there who are working hard every day and have paid their debt to society but yet, at the same time, their record is constantly used against them. That is what this program is all about: trying to help those folks,” said Burnette about the purpose of Operation Restore Hope.