“Changing the Trajectory of Their Life”

October 21, 2022 by Ritza Y. Hendricks

Expungement clinic co-hosted by Hopkins and Maryland Legal Aid provides free legal services to hundreds

The Johns Hopkins Office of Economic Development and Community Partnerships (OEDCP) hosted its Fall Expungement Clinic and Resource Fair on Saturday, Oct. 1, in collaboration with Maryland Legal Aid. The event — held at the Turner Concourse (720 Rutland Ave.) on the Johns Hopkins medical campus in East Baltimore — was sponsored by HopkinsLocal HIRE and Fox45 Baltimore.

Alicia Wilson wearing a green shirt and white mask works at a Johns Hopkins expungement clinic
Alicia Wilson, Johns Hopkins vice president for economic development and an attorney, assists a community member at a previous Expungement Clinic held in May, 2021.

“We are proud to report that on a rainy day in Baltimore, we were able to provide expungement services to 117 people. Of those 117 people, 70 had cases that we determined were eligible for expungement resulting in the preparation of 189 petitions for expungement, plus a few handwritten petitions,” says Arnetta Shelton, senior manager for Community Initiatives & Strategies in OEDCP.

The positive impact of previous clinics continues to attract volunteer attorneys from the Alliance of Black Women Attorneys of Maryland Inc., Monumental City Bar Association, and the University of Baltimore Law School who want to support efforts to remove barriers to success for local residents.

The free and open-to-the-public expungement clinics — this was the fifth one hosted by Johns Hopkins in the past 20 months — are an opportunity for Johns Hopkins to give back to the community, providing Maryland residents with the chance to remove various charges from public inspection in one sitting. This means previous criminal charges will no longer show up on a background check when applying for a job, housing, or education.

“Returning to campus for our fifth expungement clinic is significant,” says Alicia Wilson, vice president for economic development at Johns Hopkins University and the Johns Hopkins Health System. “We return to the space that introduced the value of this community initiative, with close to 100 clients attending the first event, to learn how we could support them in changing the trajectory of their life.”

Wilson introduced the expungement clinic to Johns Hopkins in February 2020. Prior to the October clinic, 423 clients had been served, with 1,354 cases filed and clients saving $17,760 in legal fees.

“Johns Hopkins has made an investment in communities by sponsoring and allowing us to come out and provide pro bono legal services right there in the communities that need them the most,” adds Angus Derbyshire, acting director for training and pro bono at Maryland Legal Aid.

The event not only offered legal advice and services but also highlighted opportunities presented by participating resource partners, including the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, Turnaround Tuesday, and Project PLASE (People Lacking Ample Shelter and Employment). Representatives from Johns Hopkins anchor initiative HopkinsLocal HIRE were also on-site to share job opportunities with local residents in both the university and health system, including key roles within the dining program. HopkinsLocal HIRE was developed to increase the number of city residents employed at Johns Hopkins institutions.

An earlier version of this story appeared on The Hub.

Topics: Strengthening Partnerships