Bar News - April 19, 2017
Pro Bono Hosts Successful Criminal Record Annulment Clinic
What the clients said:
“Excellent and compassionate interview.”
“The attorney gave me insight and hope.”
“Perfect help; this program is unbelievable; very knowledgeable staff.”
The Pro Bono Referral Program at the New Hampshire Bar Association is expanding its efforts to assist New Hampshire residents in starting over through criminal record annulments, thanks to the support of a grant from the New Hampshire Bar Foundation.
About 25 people attended the Pro Bono Program’s criminal record annulment clinic held at the NH Bar Center in Concord on Wednesday, March 29. Those in attendance learned about state laws that dictate eligibility to file annulment petitions, which can be confusing, as the waiting periods required by the law depend on the type of crime as well as conditions of sentencing. After attorney Philip Utter of Manchester gave an overview of the law, 15 attendees met privately with volunteer attorneys to get legal advice specific to their personal circumstances.
In addition to Utter, attorneys Ray Raimo, Ted Lothstein, Paul McDonough, Karl Durand and UNH Law student Todd Mihill volunteered their time to meet with clinic attendees. Participants who met with an attorney later expressed their gratitude for the program and the help they received. “The attorney gave me insight and hope,” one client said.
Pro Bono launched the Annulment Project in 2012 with a Justice Grant from the NH Bar Foundation. Just as those funds were drawing down in late 2016, a new and larger NH Bar Foundation grant was awarded, allowing Pro Bono to assist more New Hampshire residents whose past (non-violent) criminal issues are a barrier to employment, educational or housing opportunities. In October 2016, Pro Bono piloted a highly-successful annulment clinic in partnership with the Manchester chapter of the NAACP and the Manchester Community Resources Center.
Pro Bono is planning additional clinics around the state as well as informational sessions for social services providers interested in learning more about criminal record annulments so that they can better assist their clients.