New York Federal Criminal Practice Blog
May 27, 2008

EDNY Judge Denies Acquitted Defendant's Motion for Expungement of Arrest Record

Arrest records, like actual convictions, can be the gift that keeps on giving.  Citing reduced employment opportunities, the defendant in United States v. Grant, 94-cr-0018 (CPS), 2008 WL 2039309 (E.D.N.Y. May 9, 2008), sought an expungement of her arrest record, fourteen years after she had been acquitted of all charges at trial.  While sympathetic to her situation, the court pointed out that the Second Circuit (in United States v. Schnitzer, 567 F.2d 536 (2d Cir. 1997)) only permits expungement of arrest records in "extreme circumstances," such as harassment of civil rights workers, or mass arrests where determination of probable cause is impossible.  Unfortunately, "adverse employment decisions" do not come within that rubric. 

At least, in the course of pursuing this matter, Ms. Grant succeeded in getting her arrest record corrected to reflect the fact that the case was no longer pending, but had ended in a full acquittal.  There should, however, be a mechanism whereby individuals such as Ms. Grant (and Ms. Woods, as detailed in this post), who have maintained clean records and become contributing members of society, can wipe the slate clean.

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