For the second time in months, a dozen attorneys from Simmons Hanly Conroy donated their services for an Expungement Day. Teaming up with the Third Judicial Circuit Court, Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Madison County Circuit Clerk’s Office, the law firm worked with individuals to wipe their records clean and improve their lives.
These individuals were not just anyone. They were people who had once made a mistake, but were now looking to better their lives and move on.
“One of the lousy things about having a record is that it sticks with you forever, and there are so many people like that,” said attorney and Simmons Hanly Conroy shareholder Ted Gianaris, in an article by The Intelligencer. The purpose of an Expungement Day is to allow people with minor offenses to begin improving their lives.
In many cases, having a minor offense on a record can make it difficult to move on and make progress. Getting a job or joining the military can become problematic, for example, yet both can be positive steps towards self-improvement.
“Something as simple as a disorderly conduct charge from years ago that was never resolved can snowball and become an impediment to re-entering the workforce or applying for assistance,” Gianaris said. “[Expungement] is a chance for people who have minor offenses to get a second change and…be able to do things like join the military and basically have an opportunity to go on and lead a more productive life.”
In order to be eligible for expungement, the individuals were required to submit evidence that they were indeed trying to improve themselves.
“We can say ‘Look, here’s what the charge was and I know it was objectionable, but here are the things this person has done since then,’” said attorney Amy Garrett.
For example, one of the individuals had a charge on her record for a fight in high school. She’s now 30 years old, yet was worried the charge would keep her from her dream of becoming an occupational therapist. The expungement helped erase her record and her worries.
The two Expungement Days made an impact not just on this woman’s life, but many others. At the first Expungement Day, Simmons Hanly Conroy attorneys completed over 200 free legal consultations/pro bono meetings. Approximately 180 expungement/sealing requests were submitted, with 109 individuals officially expunged or sealed, meaning either the criminal record was destroyed or the records became confidential.
In addition to this success, the firm is also celebrating the award of Pro Bono Firm of the Year for 2016. The firm was awarded by the Third Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committee, which took into consideration the Madison County Expungement Day as well as the annual Madison County Bar Association Internship Program (MCIP).
This is just one of the many ways Simmons Hanly Conroy strives for positive change in people’s lives. Learn more about our priority to give back to the people and communities we serve today.