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United States District Court Judge Grants Rare Federal Conviction Expungement/Sealing Motion - Part I

On May 21, 2015, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York Judge John Gleeson granted the Expungement/Sealing Motion of a Haitian immigrant, mother of four, who's been unable to maintain employment as a result of her 2002, 18 U.S.C. ยง 1347, Health Care Fraud, conviction.

In 2002, after a jury found the Applicant guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. 1347, she was sentenced to five years' probation, ten months home detention, and $46,701 in restitution.

In the thirteen (13) years since her conviction, the Applicant was two months ahead in her restitution payments despite her meagre earnings, had no other criminal justice history, was truthful on all employment applications, however, lost six (6) different jobs after her employers conducted background checks.

The Government opposed the Applicant's motion contending that employment difficulties do not amount to the extreme circumstances necessary to warrant an expungement/sealing of her criminal conviction.

In acknowledging various efforts underway to address how the criminal justice system can better balance its law enforcement goals with society's interest in the successful rehabilitation and reentry of individuals with criminal convictions, Judge Gleeson referenced an April 18, 2011 memorandum then-Attorney General Eric Holder issued to every state requesting the review of more than 38,000 statutes and regulations that impose collateral consequences for those with criminal convictions and the elimination of those that do nothing to increase public safety.

Judge Gleeson, who was also the presiding judge over the Applicant's trial and subsequent sentencing, "reviewed every page of the extensive file that was created during her five years under probation supervision" and concluded that the public's interest in the Applicant being an employed, contributing member of society outweighed the public's interest in the Applicant's conviction remaining public record. He further stated "I sentenced her to five years of probation supervision, not to a lifetime of unemployment."

As a result, Judge Gleeson ordered the expungement/sealing of "the Government's arrest and conviction records, and any other documents relating to the case, be placed in a separate storage facility, and that any electronic copies of the records or documents and references to them be deleted from the Government's databases, electronic filing systems, and public record".

In next week's blog, we will further discuss Judge Gleeson's expungement order and the United States Circuit Court of Appeals circuit split regarding Federal Courts' inherent power and ancillary jurisdiction to expunge criminal records.

If you or someone you care about has any questions regarding Criminal Justice System expungement/sealing eligibility, please contact Attorney Michael C. Hennenberg to schedule a consultation.

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