The UB student-attorneys were part of a team of legal services lawyers who provided advice to more than 1,100 people who were seeking to have arrests and certain other criminal charges expunged from their records. Even acquittals – i.e., findings of innocence – remain on a person’s criminal record.
In an era when such information is accessible to anyone with a computer, even a minor or a decades-old criminal record can be a significant barrier to securing employment and housing.
New Maryland laws that took effect Oct. 1 expand the range of dispositions eligible for expungements and shielding. About 76 percent of criminal charges filed in Baltimore are estimated to be eligible for expungement, according to Professor Michele Gilman, co-director of the Civil Advocacy Clinic, who said the need for help with expungements was “massive.”
Gilman said that when student-attorney Melissa DeLeon apologized to a client for the amount of paperwork required and said, “I’m sorry that you’re signing your life away,” he replied, “I’m not signing my life away; I’m signing to get it back.”
Said Gilman: “UB was proud to be part of the effort to expand opportunities for our fellow Baltimoreans.”