The State of Minnesota Supreme Court is currently considering an expungement, or sealing of records case. In State v. M.D.T., the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s order to seal executive branch records. The question is whether the Courts can seal, or expunge, a citizen’s records in law enforcement, the executive branch. If you have any questions about your case, please give me a call at 651-200-3484. Below is an introduction to the article and a link to the entire article at the New York Times.
By JACK HEALY, New York Times, May 5, 2013;
Wrongfully Convicted Often Find Their Record, Unexpunged, Haunts Them
Andres Gonzalez for The New York Times
Sabrina Butler, who was convicted and then exonerated in the death of her infant son, saw her record expunged 17 years after her release from prison.
By JACK HEALY, New York Times
Published: May 5, 2013
In Wisconsin, Audrey Edmunds served 11 years in prison in the shaking death of an infant girl for whom she had been baby-sitting. In 2008, a mountain of new medical evidence cast so much doubt on the case that a higher court overturned her conviction and set her free. Leaving prison, Ms. Edmunds hoped that would be the end of it.
Audrey Edmunds could not find work after her conviction in the death of a girl was overturned.
But a few months later, as she applied for a secretarial job with an office-supply company, her conviction for first-degree reckless homicide popped up in a background check. Sorry, she was told. She tried to get work with an airline, but heard a similar rejection.
“I hate it,” said Ms. Edmunds, 52, who now lives in northern Wisconsin. “They put us through enough to begin with. They don’t give us any assistance. I’m glad to be out, but there’s got to be more support. I don’t like having this awful nightmare of a cloud hanging over me.”
Across much of the country, sealing or clearing a criminal record after a wrongful conviction is a tangled and expensive process, advocates and former prisoners say. It can take years of appeals to courts and pleas to governors to wipe the slate clean. Even then, many felony convictions remain on federal databases and pop up during background checks or at traffic stops.
Aside from the practical challenges — a criminal record can impede big things like finding housing and employment, and smaller things like getting a hunting license — people who have been exonerated say they feel unfairly marked, branded with a scarlet letter from a justice system that should not have locked them up in the first place.