UCI Law Clean Slate Clinic Successful in Expunging Misdemeanor Crimes


Judge offers high praise in court to UCI Law students

IRVINE, Calif., Sept. 22, 2016—The UC Irvine School of Law's Clean Slate Clinic was successful in expunging a local woman's drug-related misdemeanor convictions, earning high praise from a judge in the process.

"The motion lent itself to having done a lot of the background work, and you'd be surprised how many attorneys don't do that," said Hon. James H. Poole (ret.) sitting on assignment. "It wasn't clear to me at the time who was involved, and then I realized the UCI Law School assisted in drafting the motion and that the students had probably done a lot of the grunt work to put it together."

It is the 18th petition prepared and filed by the Clean Slate Clinic granted this summer, with many others prepared by the Clinic and filed by clients. The Clean Slate Clinic was created by UCI Law students under the supervision of attorney Dan Cornelious Jr., and is hosted at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC). Petitions are prepared by UCI Law students, who are assisted by staff and paralegals with LASOC, as well as LASOC staff attorney Bill Tanner.

"I knew during my 1L year that this clinic was capable of impacting the lives of so many underrepresented individuals in Orange County and beyond, and I wanted to make that happen as quickly and efficiently as possible," said Andrea Levenson (2L), Project Leader in the Clean Slate Clinic. "We take particular pride in translating our clients' inspiring stories into petitions that can appeal to the court and can overcome any objections that the prosecutor may raise."

"The Clean Slate Clinic serves as social support for individuals who can't afford attorneys and an agent of empowerment," said Rochelle Rotea (2L), Project Leader in the Clean Slate Clinic. "During client interviews, we listen to our clients' stories and make sure that they know they are in a safe space so they can share the most difficult and often embarrassing part of their lives."

UCI Law students were able to clearly communicate that their client had not engaged in any criminal behavior since 2006. They also provided proof that their client held stable employment for nine years, volunteered in her community, donated money to charity, and wanted to pursue a degree to better her career and lives of her children.  

"The students of the Clean Slate Clinic provide critical legal services that are literally life-changing for their clients," said UCI Law Professor Katharine Tinto. "The Clean Slate Clinic powerfully enables people to move forward with their lives rather than be trapped by past mistakes."

About UC Irvine School of Law

Ranked No. 4 overall in the National Jurist 2016 list of Best Schools for Practical Training, and No. 2, behind Yale, for the ratio of clinic positions, UCI Law is a visionary law school focused on training talented and passionate lawyers and driven by professional excellence, intellectual rigor, and a commitment to enrich our communities through public service. UCI Law is a collegial environment, and our faculty comprises accomplished, nationally ranked thought leaders from around the country with a broad range of expertise. In the 2015 study by University of St. Thomas School of Law, the UCI Law faculty ranked No. 6 in the nation in scholarly impact. More about the Law School is available at law.uci.edu.

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