Progress in the Peach State: First State in the South to Ban the Box

March 4, 2015
Photo courtesy of the Georgia Justice Project.

Photo courtesy of the Georgia Justice Project.

 

Just weeks ago, Georgia became the first state in the South to Ban the Box statewide! This is major progress for the state, as it joins only 13 others that have passed statewide legislation banning the box from initial employment applications. Governor Nathan Deal was encouraged to implement the policy through an executive order on February 23, 2015, because current statistics show that one in three Georgia citizens have a criminal record. The Georgia Justice Project has been working on this for over two years, and you can read more about their efforts here. Congrats to the Peach State, here’s to hoping Carolina has this on its mind!

 

For an updated information on Ban the Box in 2015, click here to access NELP’s new resource guide.


Clinic wins FIVE Successful COR Petitions!

February 3, 2015

Today, the Clinic made history!  Judge Karen Eady-Williams granted FIVE Certificate of Relief (COR) petitions for our clients today at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse!  Claire Donnelly, Gatlin Groberg, and Tierra Ragland represented the clients under the supervision of our wonderful supervising attorney, Jason Huber.

Gatlin Groberg, Jason Huber, Claire Donnelly, and Tierra Ragland, advocates for our COR petitions today.

Gatlin Groberg, Jason Huber, Claire Donnelly, and Tierra Ragland, advocates for our COR petitions today.

Our faithful followers to this blog are probably well aware of the COR project that the Clinic has been working on over the past few years.  For those not so familiar, a COR petition is a rehabilitative measure created by the legislature in N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-173.2 that allows qualified petitioners “relief” from their past criminal conviction.  CORs are particularly helpful in advancing employment and furthering education.  After a judge grants a petition, the successful petitioner can present it to prospective employers as proof that they have made amends for their past actions.  Because these individuals may previously have been turned away from jobs due to their criminal record, a COR provides many exciting opportunities.  Each of our clients today were very deserving and are incredibly grateful for this opportunity.

One of the cases today presented a very complicated issue of law, to which even the Assistant District Attorney remarked that there was “no precedence or guidance for the Court.”  The issue regarded whether a Prayer for Judgment Continued (PJC) counted as a disqualifying conviction under the COR statute.  Tierra submitted a brief and made a compelling legal argument on behalf of her client explaining why a PJC should not count as a disqualifying conviction.  Judge Eady-Williams found the argument very convincing and the COR was granted!

Congrats to the Clinic on the FIVE successful petitions, and the effective advocacy on a matter of first impression!

Several new Clinic members came for moral support!

Several new Clinic members came for moral support!


Expunction Function

December 18, 2014

Written by Corey V. Parton, Parton Law Firm, PLLC

Research by Brandon Forbes, 3L, Charlotte School of law

Everybody makes mistakes.  Most people regret them, learn from them, and move on.  But for 1.6 million out of 9.5 North Carolinians, these mistakes have resulted in a permanent criminal record.[1]  In addition to serving as a constant reminder of one’s past transgressions, a criminal record can create real and substantial obstacles for those seeking employment and affordable housing.  For example, 90% of employers conduct criminal background checks.[2]  In North Carolina, criminal charges can only be removed from one’s record by court order.  Generally, these court orders are only available for: drug and alcohol related crimes, charges that were dismissed or resulted in a not guilty verdict, non-violent felonies, and gang or prostitution related offenses.  The following is a brief breakdown of North Carolina’s expunction statute and crimes to which it applies:

The most commonly used section of the expunction statute is N.C.G.S. § 15A-146, which provides for the expunction of charges resulting in a dismissal or not guilty verdict, as long as the petitioner has not received a previous expunction.  Since this is the only portion of the statute requiring the petitioner to have no previous expunctions, the prudent practitioner will seek a N.C.G.S. § 15A-146 expunction first when attempting to clear up a cluttered criminal record.  North Carolina case law has not yet addressed whether expunging multiple dismissed charges stemming from a single incident is a proper use of this section of the statute.[3]

N.C.G.S. § 15A-145(a) provides for the expunction of misdemeanors committed when the defendant was under the age of 18 (or under 21 for possession of alcohol) after two years have passed.

N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.1 allows for the removal of certain gang-related offenses after a two-year wait period provided they were committed when the petitioner was under 18.

First time drug offenders who were under 21 at the time of their conviction may be eligible to have their charges expunged two years following their conviction pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.2-3.

Certain non-violent felonies committed by the petitioner when they were under 18 can be expunged under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.4 after four years have passed.  The petitioner must also complete at least 100 community service hours.  Other non-violent felonies and misdemeanors can be dismissed, regardless of the petitioner’s age at the time of conviction under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.5, provided fifteen years have passed since the conviction.

Certain prostitution offenses are eligible for expunction under N.C.G.S. § 15A-145.6 when the offense was due to human trafficking and the petitioner has no previous or subsequent prostitution related convictions.

With the exception of N.C.G.S. § 15A-146, all petitions for expunction must be accompanied by an affidavit stating that the petitioner does not have any outstanding civil judgments or subsequent convictions anywhere in the United States.  The petitioner must also provide affidavits from two non-relatives in their community attesting to the petitioner’s good moral character.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used or relied upon as legal advice.  For specific information regarding your case you should contact a licensed attorney.

Corey V. Parton

Parton Law Firm, PLLC

1300 South Blvd. Suite K-118

Charlotte, NC 28203

Telephone: (704) 971-8618

Fax: (704) 716-9807

E-mail: parton@partonlawfirm.com

[1] http://www.nciolta.org/journal_spring2014.asp

[2] Id.

[3] See In re Expungement for Kearney, 620 S.E.2d 276 (N.C. App. 2005).


Ban the Box Project Gains Support

April 2, 2012

Ban the Box is a local coalition of groups and individuals seeking to level the employment playing field for individuals with criminal convictions. The Clinic, along with Action North Carolina and the Center for Community Transitions, has been involved with Ban The Box for almost two years.   After researching the legal ramifications of local public and private hiring practices and finding that there is a strong cyclical link between unemployment and recidivism as well as unemployment and homelessness, Clinic members drafted a model ordinance to be presented before city council which would revamp current municipal hiring practices.

Ban the Box met on February 10th to discuss various strategies to get the ball rolling toward our ultimate goal of presenting and having the ordinance passed by City Council by the end of this semester.  Ban the Box is happy to report it has the local support of STRIVE Charlotte!  Strive Charlotte is a local nonprofit job placement organization whose mission is mission” to empower individuals through lifestyle changes that promote total wellness”.  The group assists participants by providing various job placement resources as well as job training, which provides basic skills many employment candidates will need in order to be successful and fruitful within their job search.

Recently, Ban the Box was featured on the Legal Dose, Charlotte School of Law’s Civil Rights Clinic radio show.  There, law student Leandra Murray discussed the pillars and goals of Ban the Box in addition to describing the model ordinance. We are also seeking more endorsements from various organizations and individuals throughout the community.  If you’re interested in getting involved, please Contact Us.


%d bloggers like this: