Legal groups provide aid to TROSA residents

Attorney D.J. Dore of Legal Aid of North Carolina and second year Duke law student Juliet Park review a TROSA resident’s record in preparation for the client meeting.

On October 5, 37 TROSA residents and two graduates attended a free legal clinic provided by Duke Law School, Legal Aid of NC, and the NC Justice Center.

Each resident met with a pro bono attorney and a law student to discuss his or her criminal history and possible legal remedies—namely, expunction and certificates of relief. In the state of North Carolina, expunction means the destruction of a criminal record by court order. After an expunction, a person is restored to the status he or she had before the criminal record. A certificate of relief removes some civil disabilities that result from a criminal conviction.

In the course of the clinic, 75% of the participating residents were found to be eligible for an expunction and/or certificate of relief. Notaries were on site to prepare the legal remedy petitions for participants.

TROSA is grateful to Duke Law School, Legal Aid of NC, and the NC Justice Center, which are part of the Durham Expunction Network (DEN), a community team of legal providers within the Durham Expunction and Restoration (DEAR) Program. In preparation for the clinic, two state experts on NC expunction and certificates of relief law, Daniel Bowes of the NC Justice Center and D.J. Dore of Legal Aid of NC, along with law students and pro bono attorneys, held a Sunday work session to comb through each resident’s and graduate’s complete state criminal histories in search of all possible legal remedies.

TROSA staff Kristen Rosselli and Kim Chambers also assisted the legal teams and residents and helped organize the clinic.

Men and women come to TROSA to change their lives. Many have criminal records as a result of living in addiction and may face barriers to finding jobs, securing housing, and living out their lives as healthy and productive members of their communities. Thanks to the work of Duke Law School, Legal Aid of NC, and the NC Justice Center, some of our residents and graduates may now face one less barrier on the road to recovery.