Governor Pardons Legal Aid Client; Legal Aid And Pro Bono Counsel Ropes & Gray LLP Provided Representation In Successful Effort

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the first pardons of his term on December 31, granting clemency to three New Yorkers whose lives, he said, continued to be “hampered by their criminal records.” One of those pardoned was a client of The Legal Aid Society's Civil Practice Immigration Law Unit, Gerardo Alvarez. Lawyers with the New York office of Ropes & Gray LLP and The Legal Aid Society's Immigration Law Unit have been representing Mr. Alvarez in his immigration proceedings since 2010.

Mr. Alvarez, a Mexican citizen, has lived in the United States since 1980, and has become an integral part of his New York community. Mr. Alvarez has been married for over twenty-five years, has two United States citizen children, and has worked for the same construction company for over two decades. Because of a minor drug conviction in 2002, Mr. Alvarez was placed in removal proceedings upon return from a brief trip abroad to commemorate his wedding anniversary in 2010. In July 2013, an immigration judge granted Mr. Alvarez’s petition that these proceedings be cancelled, and he is looking forward to applying for naturalization. In a statement, Mr. Alvarez's lawyers said "we are delighted that the Governor has granted a pardon, and that he will now be freed of any remaining stigma from his long-ago criminal conviction."

Legal Aid Immigration Law Unit Staff Attorney Sarah Gillman and Supervising Attorney Maria Navarro worked on the this case with Meredythe Ryan, an associate at Ropes & Gray. Ms. Gray worked on the case originally as a pro bono Legal Aid extern from the firm who was placed in the Society's Civil Practice Immigration Law Unit during 2010 and 2011, and then she continued to work on the case at the firm.