Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday news & notes

1.  Welcome guest blogger turned more-regular-contributor Brian Toth.  Here's a post of his from yesterday.  You'll be seeing more of this about once a week.

2. Is this the most ridiculous federal indictment ever?  A guy can't pull out his own money now?  Oy.

3.  I've said it a bunch on this blog -- Judge Gleeson is a shining star on the district bench.  Check out his most recent order expunging a federal conviction.  This is justice.  This is what our district judges were meant to do.  We need more Judge Gleesons, who recognize the power that a lifetime appointment affords to do justice and to be a check on the executive branch.  For too long judges have thought that ruling for the prosecutors is the way to go.  This is an example of a former prosecutor doing right where the government took an unjust position.  How many other judges would have just said -- I don't have the power to do this; I have to defer to the feds or the marshals or BOP or whatever.

Big ups to Judge Gleeson.  Here are a few excerpts from the order:
Jane Doe filed an application on October 30, 2014, asking me to expunge her thirteen-year old fraud conviction because of the undue hardship it has created for her in getting — and especially keeping — jobs.  Doe gets hired to fill home health aide and similar positions only to be fired when her employers learn through subsequent background checks about her conviction.  Since the conviction was for health care fraud, it’s hard to blame those employers for using the conviction as a proxy for Doe’s unsuitability.
However, even if one believes, as I do, that employers are generally entitled to know about the past convictions of job applicants, and that their decisions based on those convictions are entitled to deference, there will nevertheless be cases in which all reasonable employers would conclude that the conviction is no longer a meaningful consideration in determining suitability for employment if only they had the time and the resources to conduct a thorough investigation of the applicant or employee.
I have conducted such an investigation, and this is one of those cases.  In addition to presiding over the trial in Doe’s case and her subsequent sentencing, I have reviewed every page of the extensive file that was created during her five years under probation supervision.  I conclude that the public’s interest in Doe being an employed, contributing member of society so far outweighs its interest in her conviction being a matter of public record that the motion is granted and her conviction is expunged....
Doe is one of 65 million Americans who have a criminal record and suffer the adverse consequences that result from such a record. Her case highlights the need to take a fresh look at policies that shut people out from the social, economic, and educational opportunities they desperately need in order to reenter society successfully.
The seemingly automatic refusals by judges to expunge convictions when the inability to find employment is the “only” ground for the application have undervalued the critical role employment plays in re-entry. They are also increasingly out of step with public opinion. The so-called “ban the box” practice, in which job applications no longer ask the applicant whether he or she has been convicted of a crime, is becoming more prevalent. There is an increasing awareness that continuing to marginalize people like Doe does much more harm than good to our communities.
Accordingly, Doe’s application for an order expunging her conviction is granted. It is hereby ordered that the government’s arrest and conviction records, and any other documents relating to this case, be placed in a separate storage facility, and that any electronic copies of these records or documents and references to them be deleted from the government’s databases, electronic filing systems, and public record. Doe’s real name is to be removed from any official index or public record. It is further ordered that the records are not to be opened other than in the course of a bona fide criminal investigation by law enforcement authorities and only when necessary for such an investigation. The government and any of its agents may not use these records for any other purpose, nor may their contents be disseminated to anyone, public or private, for any other purpose.
Finally with respect to the relief granted here, I welcome the input of the parties. My intention is clear: no inquiry of the federal or state government by a prospective employer should result in the disclosure of Doe’s conviction. Effectuating that intent without unduly burdening those governments or impairing their legitimate law enforcement interests is not so clear, at least not to me. Thus I welcome any proposed modifications to the relief set forth above, and of course any such proposals by the government would not be regarded as a waiver of its opposition to my decision to expunge the conviction.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post about the exemplary Judge Gleeson.

Judge John Gleeson is a United States federal judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The Florida federal bench lacks any judge that I know of with the intellect, wisdom, understanding, compassion and judicial temperament of Judge Gleeson, who conducts judicial business in an efficient and expeditious manner.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York is within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Second District Court of Appeals, where Judge Dennis Jacobs served as Chief Judge from October 1, 2006 to August 31, 2013.

In 2006 Judge Jacobs delivered a speech entitled "The Secret Life Of Judges" as the 2006 John F. Sonnett Memorial Lecture at Fordham University School of Law. The subsequently published manuscript won a Green Bag Award for exemplary legal writing in the short article category.

Dennis Jacobs, The Secret Life of Judges, 75 Fordham L. Rev. 2855 (2007).

To any person so qualified, kindly Nominate The Secret Life of Judges for a Nobel Prize.

New York may have outstanding judges, and we have sunshine in Florida.