Prosecutors in Pender County took an unprecedented step Wednesday to clear their caseload. It was Immunity Day at the Pender County Courthouse. People facing misdemeanor charges who missed their court date got kind of a “second chance”.
Valerie Myers got a ticket for speeding, but was slow to get to court.
“I missed a court date cause I didn’t have a way up here, and I had it confused with the Wilmington court,” said Myers.
Wednesday, she got a second chance; an immunity day to answer the charge without paying an additional fine for failing to appear.
“Today was a day to wipe the slate clean for a number of people who have simple driving offenses and non-violent misdemeanors,” district attorney Ben David said.
About 50 people showed up at the Pender County Courthouse Wednesday to take advantage of Immunity Day, which is only about one percent of the total outstanding misdemeanor cases in Pender County. District attorney Ben David and district court judge John Carroll had hoped more would have accepted the offer, but they are glad to at least have these cases off of the court docket.
Carroll said, “They were able to get their license back because we’ve striked the call-in fail. And it gets a lot of cases that have just been lingering around out of the way.”
David got the idea from a similar program in Wake County and wanted to try it out in Pender. But for these defendants, the second chance was a one-time offer.
“There’s not going to be a third chance. Today was the day for immunity. If they come in tomorrow or a year from now, there’s going to be consequences,” said David.
If it proves to be a success, David may hold an immunity day in New Hanover County. Myers hopes he does. “It was a good thing. I hope they do it in Wilmington, cause I have one in Wilmington right after I had that accident with a rental car,” she said.
District attorney Ben David said clearing these cases lets his office focus its attention on violent criminals and felony cases.