On Thursday, July 31st, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law Center for Solo Practitioners hosted the first of three free Criminal Expungement Clinics at the Salvation Army Centre City Facility. The Clinics have been made possible by a grant from the San Diego County Indigent Criminal Defense Fund, Inc.
“The purpose of the free Mobile Expungement Clinic is to help indigent persons who have done everything required of them by the Court during their probation to apply for a dismissal of their conviction,” said the program’s director, TJSL Professor Lilys McCoy. “The dismissal will increase their chances of becoming employed, which will, we hope, allow them to take their lives in a completely new and prosperous direction.”
“This clinic is so important,” said Solo Practitioner Michelle Bos '12. “The clients we see are from a segment of the population who have such limited access to the justice system and yet so much exposure to its harsh consequences with little recourse. Assisting them with expungement of their criminal record can be the first step toward ending their homelessness and qualifying for jobs and programs.”
“There is a dire need for this service in bridging indigent access to attorney services,” said Solo Practitioner Joseph Willmore '11. “Many of these individuals have made positive changes and are trying to be productive members of society, yet are prevented from being such, because of their past.”
Under the terms of the grant from The San Diego County Indigent Criminal Defense Fund, Inc., the clinic is geared towards the indigent, i.e., people who would not be able to pay for this service on their own.
“Poverty is a self-perpetuating cycle,” said Professor McCoy. “The Center for Solo Practitioners wants to help break that cycle for people who want to improve their lives and the lives of their families.”
“Many of the individuals I have encountered have rehabilitated their lives and been crime or drug free upwards of 10 years,” said Solo Practitioner Kirra O'Toole '08. “However, the convictions prevent gainful employment, housing, and even access to government benefits. There is a huge need in San Diego County for this service.”
The Mobile Expungement Clinic fits within the mission of the Center for Solo Practitioners. “Our mission is to help TJSL alumni start practices which have as core values community service and increasing access to justice,” said Professor McCoy. “By participating in initiatives such as the Mobile Expungement Clinic, the lawyers in our program are continuing to hone their skills while providing direct legal services to those who need those services the most.”
The next free Criminal Expungement clinics will be held at the Salvation Army Centre City Facility located at 825 7th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 on Thursday, August 7 and Thursday, August 14 from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. To make an appointment, call (619) 550-4879 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-Ins are welcome.