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Atlanta immigration lawyers are following the case against Harvey Holliday, who faces charges of defrauding Latino immigrants. They hope a conviction will send a message to those who bilk immigrants by posing as lawyers. According to the indictment in Cobb County, Holliday, also known as Harris L. Harvey, faces four counts of theft by deception for promising immigrants legal services he could not deliver. State v. Holliday,No. 00900639 (Cobb. Sup. Feb. 18, 2000). A. Kristin Grods, chairman of the Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, says she’s hoping for a conviction. That, she says, would put others on notice that they cannot exploit immigrants with impunity. “Harvey Holliday represents a class of fraudulent and unscrupulous operators who take advantage of immigrants who don’t know the law of the United States,” she says. �NOTARY’ TITLE CONFUSES IMMIGRANTS According to the state, Holliday, who is a notary, offered legal advice to immigrants seeking permission to live and work in the United States. He offered the services through his Marietta office, Legal Mediation and Arbitration Services. Immigration experts say it’s a common problem: unlicensed “lawyers” exploit immigrants’ cultural and linguistic confusion by calling themselves notarios. In Mexico and other Latin American nations, a notario can offer some services similar to those of a lawyer. Gwynne K. Davis, an accredited immigration representative for Catholic Social Services, says she sees the traces of these notarios in some of the tougher cases that come to her office for help. “I know notario work when I see it,” she says. “It has all the misspellings and all the mistakes.” Adviser Richard Goodlette says counselors do what they can for these immigrants’ cases, but often the damage is irreparable. “Sometimes there is no solution in a case,” he says, and an immigrant who might have remained in the United States with competent legal work has to be deported. Grods says one of her clients, Miguel Picardo, was one of Holliday’s victims. Picardo came to the United States legally. When an employer offered him a job, Picardo asked Holliday to adjust his visa to allow him to work. “The tragic part of his story,” she says, “is that Miguel tried to do what he thought was the right thing under the law.” $2,500 CHARGED Holliday told Picardo he could handle his case, Grods says, and charged him about $2,500. But Holliday never delivered on the promised legal work, and now Picardo may have to leave the country. “He is in a position where he could be deported any day,” Grods says. Grods says she’s pleased that Cobb has prosecuted Holliday. The delay in the trial date makes sense, she says, because a new assistant district attorney took over the case in August.
Victoria S. Aronow, who took over the case, says prosecuting Holliday is still a priority. “It’s not forgotten,” she says. “It’s still out there. It’s just not on top of the list right now.” There is some indication that Holliday’s case might not reach trial. Holliday’s lawyer Frederick R.J. Jackson and the district attorney’s office had “a lengthy discussion … on ways of resolving the case without trial,” according to notes in the case file. “Before reaching a decision on the most appropriate way to bring this matter to a closure,” he wrote. “[T]here are a few things I need to discuss with my client.” Jackson did not return a phone call seeking comment. During discovery, Jackson asked the state to turn over all information about “any consideration or promises of consideration” given to any government witnesses, and any information about agreements between the DA’s office and any other law enforcement agency. In cases against notarios, immigration lawyers say, many of the witnesses are worried about their immigration status and are unwilling to come forward to testify. Some lawyers try to procure “S” visas, or “snitch” visas, which the INS sometimes grants to immigrants whose testimony is needed in a criminal investigation.

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