Western Michigan University Law School’s Access to Justice Clinic is hosting an Expungement Clinic on Feb. 29 for those wanting to learn about the expungement process and receive assistance with their expungement application.
The event, in partnership with WMU-Cooley graduate and attorney Amanda Sterkenburg, will have student attorneys on hand to discuss the expungement process and help attendees determine their eligibility. Those who qualify may be paired with a student attorney for pro bono assistance with their expungement application. Resource packets will be available to those who do not qualify.
“A person’s trustworthiness or character cannot be proven by one single incident,” Sterkenburg said. “Unfortunately, many people find that old convictions continue to create barriers to housing and employment long after they have served their sentence and changed their lives. Expungement represents a fresh start to those whose recent conduct shows that they deserve a second chance.”
Currently, Michigan allows for the expungement of offenses when a person’s criminal record is limited to one felony and two misdemeanors or no more than two misdemeanors. Certain offenses are excluded. The Clean Slate legislative package currently pending would increase the number of convictions a person can have expunged over a lifetime, add certain traffic violations to the list of eligible convictions, and shorten the timeline before a person becomes eligible for expungement.
WMU-Cooley’s Access to Justice Clinic provides legal representation to those seeking to expunge their criminal convictions or remove their names from Michigan’s Health and Human Services' central registry., Through volunteering at community outreach events, and giving presentations on the topics of expungement and central registry name removal, the clinic also educates the general public about issues facing ex-offenders as they seek successful re-entry into society.
Since its inception in 2006, the Access to Justice Clinic has helped dozens of people in Kent County win expungement of their prior criminal convictions.
“We are excited to partner with one of our graduating students to bring this first-ever opportunity to the community and provide free assistance to those seeking expungements,” said WMU-Cooley Associate Dean and Professor Tracey Brame, who the clinic. “Our goal at the Access to Justice Clinic is to provide justice to those who have been wronged by our court system so they can move forward and live a prosperous life. Our all-day clinic will be a great first step to those seeking expungement assistance.”
The Expungement Clinic will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 29, at the Community Collaboration Center in the Kentwood Public Schools Administration building at 5820 Eastern Ave SE, in Kentwood.
All are welcome and free resources will be available. Those seeking an eligibility screening should bring $10 for a criminal record search.