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United States v. Jones

August 10, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
ANGELA JONES



The opinion of the court was delivered by: James L. Graham United States District Judge

ORDER

The defendant has filed a motion for expungement of her 1998 conviction for bank larceny. The government opposes the motion.

There is no federal statute which generally authorizes expungement of a conviction for a federal offense. It is within the inherent equitable powers of a federal court to order expungement of records in an appropriate case. United States v. Doe, 556 F.2d 391 (6th Cir. 1977). However, this equitable authority is limited and narrow, and will only be exercised in extreme circumstances. United States v. Robinson, 79 F.3d 1149 (table), 1996 WL 107129 at *1 (6th Cir. 1996). The court in Robinson noted that "federal courts have most readily invoked the expungement power with respect to illegal convictions, convictions under statutes later deemed unconstitutional, and convictions obtained through governmental misconduct." Id. at *2. See also Sealed Appellant v. Sealed Appellee, 130 F.3d 695 (5th Cir. 1997); United States v. Pinto, 1 F.3d 1069 (10th Cir. 1993); Geary v. United States, 901 F.2d 670 (8th Cir. 1990). However, "courts have uniformly denied expunction requests regarding valid convictions." Robinson, 1996 WL 107129 at *2.

The determination of whether expungement is appropriate requires balancing the interest of the government in maintaining law enforcement records against the defendant's rights or harm to the defendant resulting from maintaining the records. Schwab v. Gallas, 724 F.Supp. 509 (N.D.Ohio 1989). It has been recognized that retaining and preserving arrest and other records serves the important function of promoting effective law enforcement. United States v. Schnitzer, 567 F.2d 536, 539 (2d Cir. 1977). The defendant bears the burden of establishing that expungement is warranted. Sealed Appellant, 130 F.3d at 702.

Defendant states that she is requesting expungement so that she can more easily obtain employment. Courts have rejected expungement requests in cases where the defendant argued that the criminal record impedes the ability to obtain gainful employment. In such a case, expungement typically is not appropriate unless unwarranted adverse consequences outweigh the public interest in maintaining criminal records. United States v. Wiley, 89 F.Supp.2d 909 (S.D.Ohio 1999). See also United States v. Janik, 10 F.3d 470, 472 (7th Cir. 1993)(rejecting expungement application on grounds that conviction would prevent promotion in the army and interfere with his ability to obtain civilian employment); United States v. Scott, 793 F.2d 117, 118 (5th Cir. 1986)(motion to expunge valid conviction denied even though criminal record interfered with defendant's ability to pursue career as securities dealer); Schnitzer, 567 F.2d at 539-40 (denying expungement request despite claim that criminal record would interfere with career). Normally, the adverse consequences on employment stemming from a criminal conviction are the natural and predictable result of engaging in unlawful conduct and are not unusual or unwarranted. United States v. Smith, 940 F.2d 395, 396 (9th Cir. 1991); Wiley, 89 F.Supp.2d at 911-913.

Defendant has presented no grounds which would warrant the exercise of the court's equitable powers to order expungement, and defendant's motion for the expungement of her conviction is denied.

20060810

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