The impetus for the ABA Young Lawyers Division 2021-22 Public Service Project came from Choi Portis’ pro bono work. When the Detroit attorney and YLD chair took part in an expungement clinic, it enabled her “to assist a client who was in the wrong place at the wrong time get his job back after his record was expunged.”
That satisfaction inspired her to fashion a project called Operation: Second Chance, which includes a toolkit with state-by-state laws, resources and guides for other young lawyers to implement and host expungement fairs.
The project also includes in-person “activation events,” the first of which was held in May, when roughly 25 YLD members who attended their section’s Spring Meeting in Atlanta joined the Georgia Justice Project and the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office for an expungement event called Record Restriction.
“Ultimately, the event was a resounding success,” said YLD Public Service Director Jerome Crawford of the more than 100 Atlantans who came to the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church seeking a second chance. “Not only were many of them helped on the spot, [but] a Superior Court judge was in attendance to sign corresponding order[s] that would be entered on the record the following week, thereby instantly restricting or expunging their criminal records,” the East Lansing, Michigan, lawyer said.
Crawford promises more such “activations” and hints at a special program to be held at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. The project is also looking at policy with the aim to “move the needle on criminal justice reform.”
- Operation: Second Chance Toolkit
- TYL Magazine: How to expunge a client’s criminal record
- Teaching Legal Docs: What is expungement?
- After the Bar: Empowering disenfranchised communities through public service
- ABA Journal: