Expunction Clinic Reflection

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The Wilmington, North Carolina Expungement Clinic has provided me with an invaluable opportunity for growth in my legal career. The day-to-day experience of law school can be removed from the real legal struggles that everyday North Carolinians face.

Through this pro bono trip, I was reminded that while I live in the “law-school bubble”, some people struggle with inabilities to obtain financial aid, housing, or a job due to barriers stemming from criminal charges and convictions.

The Honorable Judge Jay D. Hockenberry reminded us that the legal profession is, in his mind, the noblest profession that exists. Lawyers help individuals who come to them during some of the most difficult struggles of their lives. We get the opportunity to help those people and attempt to solve their problems.

This clinic reminded me of the importance of understanding a client’s perspective before making any sort of snap judgment about his or her history or character. Even though I had to deliver bad news to many of my clients that they would not be eligible for a certificate of relief or expungement, I was amazed by my clients’ resilience and fortitude in the face of so many obstacles that they face in their quests to find employment and societal acceptance.

As Dean Novinsky put it, our views on expungement really stem from how we view punishment, and whether the purpose of the criminal justice system should be retributive, rehabilitative, or utilitarian. I am left wondering how long we should punish someone who has theoretically already paid his or her debt to society.

Posted by Chelsea M. Weiermiller on Fri. March 14, 2014 10:22 AM
Categories: Spring Break 2014 (Eastern, Expunction)

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