Old Criminal Convictions Sealed for Pro Bono Clients

October 2, 2018

Cleary Gottlieb, in partnership with the Legal Action Center, represented a pro bono client in a successful motion to seal a 15-year-old felony conviction under New York’s new conviction sealing statute (CPL 160.59).

More than 15 years ago, the client was convicted of an attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance and received five years’ probation. After successfully completing probation, the client completed an emergency medical technician program, then graduated summa cum laude from college, and has since earned a master’s degree in social work. Despite hard work and successes, however, the client’s sole conviction continued to adversely impact their ability for job promotions and deterred them from applying to medical school. With the conviction now sealed, the client can fully advance their professional goals.

This pro bono client is one of eight whom Cleary represents in their conviction sealing motions. Since launching the project in January 2018—two months after the new New York sealing statute went into effect—the firm has filed sealing applications for four clients, three of which have been granted by New York courts and one of which is pending, but is unopposed by the district attorney’s office. The firm looks forward to continuing to work with the Legal Action Center in representing individuals who are eligible for this important relief from the burdens and stigma imposed by old convictions.