ASHEVILLE — The Campbell Law School Pro Bono Council and the Blanchard Community Law Clinic (BCLC) partnered with the Pro Bono Program at Duke Law School and Pisgah Legal Services to host a criminal record expunction clinic in Western North Carolina over the law school’s Spring Break.
A total of 18 law students — nine from Campbell Law and nine from Duke Law — participated in the clinic, which was held at the Buncombe County Courthouse in Asheville, according to Campbell Law BCLC Professor Emily Mistr, who was on site as one of the supervising attorneys.
The students served a total of 27 clients filing 104 petitions for expunction covering some 774 charges.
“In fact, eight of the clients that day were eligible for full clean slate relief,” Mistr said.
BCLC Director Rick Glazier added, “These are amazing numbers on petitions filed and charges to be cleared.”
According to an article published by Duke Law, Duke Law Pro Bono Director D.J. Dore said, “It’s such a privilege to partner with Campbell Law School to provide pro bono legal services to the residents of western North Carolina. And it’s really special to see the students from both schools working together and learning from each other. Partnerships like this serve as a reminder of the wider professional world waiting after graduation.”
A person with a criminal record can find it difficult to get employment, secure housing or continue their education. Through the expunction process, a person can petition the court to remove a charge or conviction from their criminal background, thereby eliminating a potential obstacle to the person securing employment or housing. Students working alongside licensed attorneys met with clients to help them review their criminal record and determine which charges could be expunged, and completed a petition on the client’s behalf.
Mistr added, “It’s a really important process because, unfortunately, in the state of North Carolina, your record includes everything you’ve ever been charged with in your lifetime and those dismissed charges are often held against you.”
The clinic also assisted the Buncombe County District Attorney’s Office with the DA-initiated “Raise the Age” relief for certain youthful convictions that occurred when the defendant was 16 or 17 years old. Duke Law and Campbell Law students prepared 252 petitions to expunge 255 offenses.
This trip marked the first Campbell Law Pro Bono Spring Break trip since before the pandemic, said Pro Bono Council Director Brigette Kelly.
For more photos or to learn more about the trip, visit this link.
Since launching in September 2016, the BCLC has made a significant impact in the Raleigh community and beyond by providing solutions to legal problems encountered by clients who are seeking to change their lives for the better. The Clinic has served more than 1,000 clients, providing representation, advocacy, education and reconciliation for its clients while delivering valuable and practical knowledge and experience to students.
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Since its founding in 1976, Campbell Law has developed lawyers who possess moral conviction, social compassion, and professional competence, and who view the law as a calling to serve others. Among its accolades, the school has been recognized by the American Bar Association (ABA) as having the nation’s top Professionalism Program and by the American Academy of Trial Lawyers for having the nation’s best Trial Advocacy Program. Campbell Law boasts more than 4,700 alumni, who make their home in nearly all 50 states and beyond. In 2024, Campbell Law will celebrate 45 years of graduating legal leaders and a 15 years of being located in a state-of-the-art facility in the heart of North Carolina’s Capital City.