The BBA’s CORI Sealing Clinic, which launched in January 2019, will have its fifth clinic date next Wednesday, June 5, at the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse. This project, which engages volunteer attorneys in helping low-income clients seal their criminal records through the courts, has assisted close to 40 people over the past four months. We are excited to have volunteers from BBA Sponsor Firm Pepper Hamilton staff the clinic next week!
Such assistance is critical, as prior criminal records can create barriers to obtaining housing, employment, and educational opportunities. Massachusetts law permits people with a criminal record to have their records “sealed” from public view after a waiting period by meeting certain legal requirements. The CORI Sealing Clinic helps those who may not be able to undertake this process without the assistance of an attorney, but cannot afford to pay for counsel.
To learn more about the program, click here. If you are interested in volunteering with the clinic, please email Hannah Poor at [email protected]
Ahead of the Boston Bar Association’s first CORI Sealing Clinic over 50 attorneys and law students attended a training to learn about the sealing process. As many of the potential volunteers were new to this topic, Agapi Koulouris (Department of Criminal Justice Information Services) opened by reviewing precisely what information is kept on a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) and the visibility of that information to potential employers or housing providers. Following Koulouris, Sarah Joss (Office of the Commissioner of Probation) reviewed the administrative sealing process, which individuals can pursue when they have met the sealing waiting periods. These waiting periods were recently decreased (from 5 years to 3 years for a misdemeanor and from 10 years to 7 years for a felony) with the passage of the Criminal Justice Reform Bill last year. To start, the BBA’s clinic will primarily assist clients with obtaining their CORI and administrative sealing, and then it will transition into assisting clients with sealing prior to hitting their waiting period benchmark. Pauline Quirion and Vanessa Dennis (Greater Boston Legal Services) reviewed that process and also touched on the new expungement laws related to juvenile and certain adult criminal records. David Siegel (New England Law | Boston) moderated the panel and encouraged attendees to volunteer for the clinic.
At the first clinic on February 6th, five clients were assisted by our volunteers. These individuals were seeking help requesting their CORI and navigating the administrative sealing process. We anticipate that a few of those individuals will return to the clinic for follow-up and that we’ll see more clients visit in the coming months.
The clinic will take place every first Wednesday of the month from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM at the Edward Brooke Courthouse. If you or your firm is interested in becoming involved, contact Cassandra Shavney at [email protected]