Derrick Smith to host legal advice clinic
Indicted 10th District state rep is organizing an event for constituents who need free legal advice
06/14/2012 5:24 PM
Derrick Smith, the indicted Near West Side state rep accused of accepting a $7,000 bribe, is organizing an event for locals who might need legal help of their own.
In the first publically organized event for his 10th District constituents since being arrested and indicted on bribery charges in March, Smith is offering a free legal clinic at his West Side office, 2532A W. Warren Blvd., on Saturday, July 21 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
The goal, according to a flyer emailed by his office, is to offer free legal advice on topics ranging from bankruptcy and landlord disagreements to DUIs and domestic violence.
The advice will be offered by Street Justice Inc., a group that works to provide free and low-cost legal services to low-income people in the Chicago area. The group holds monthly clinics around the city.
“Many people are intimidated by the complexity of the legal system and the cost associated with services,” Smith said in a statement on the flyer. “As a result I am partnering with Street Justice Inc. to remove those obstacles and bring needed services directly to area residents.”
Carmela Wimberly, who works for Smith in his West Side office, said this was the third legal clinic they’ve done since Smith was appointed state rep last year. She said she didn’t see any connection between or irony involving the clinic and his current legal troubles.
“Actually, this is for the community — this has nothing to do with him personally,” Wimberly said. “For his issues that he has to deal with legally, he has a whole separate outside attorney. These attorneys have nothing to do with his case. So far, people are happy because they say they need help.”
On top of facing criminal charges for allegedly accepting the bribe in March, just days before he was re-elected in the Democratic primary, Smith could face disciplinary measures in the Illinois House, including expulsion. The House committee that will decide his fate is due to meet sometime before July 6.
If he survives that, he also faces a battle in the general election this November. Several of Smith’s former colleagues and backers, including Secretary of State Jesse White, recently selected Former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger’s chief of staff, Lance Tyson, to run against Smith as a third-party candidate.
Wimberly said she wasn’t sure if Smith himself would be at the legal clinic.
“He may or he may not,” she said. “Sometimes he comes in and sometimes he doesn’t.”