Litigation

 

Criminal Record Expungement Project (C-REP)


The Criminal Record Expungement Project (“C-REP”) represents low-income individuals through the expungement process in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. PLSE identifies clients by conducting monthly community-based intake sessions in the communities most affected by criminal history record information. The intake sessions also help PLSE understand the unique challenges that individuals with criminal records encounter in Pennsylvania, which inform our strategic litigation and also provide opportunities to build relationships in the community.

Currently, all intake sessions are staffed by volunteers, primarily law students, through our partnerships with the University of Pennsylvania’s Law School and Thomas R. Kline Law School.  Following intake, petitions for expungement are reviewed, filed, and argued by PLSE’s staff attorneys.  To date, PLSE has filed several thousand expungement petitions in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.  Over 95% of the petitions PLSE have filed have been granted.

PLSE also provides expungement services to the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Reintegration Services (RISE), the Supervision to Aid-Reentry (STAR) federal reentry court program in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and partners with various organizations, such as churches, state legislators, and social organizations to provide juvenile and adult expungement clinics throughout Philadelphia.  PLSE has also partnered with the Public Defender’s office in Montgomery County on an expungement project that relies on student volunteers from the Villanova University School of Law.

C-REP began as a project of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild in the summer of 2010 through a generous grant from the Bread & Roses Foundation (National Lawyers Guild fiscal sponsor).

 

The Fair Employment Opportunities Project (FEOP)


The Fair Employment Opportunities Project (“FEOP”) is a partnership between PLSE, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and a panel of pro bono lawyers from the private bar. This effort seeks, through education, advocacy and litigation, to insure that Pennsylvania employers comply with the provisions of Pennsylvania’s Criminal History Record Information Act (“CHRIA”) that limit the use of criminal records information in the employment process and restrict the ability of many employers to refuse to hire individuals who have a criminal conviction record. FEOP works to develop and strengthen case law construing CHRIA to benefit future job applicants and employers in Pennsylvania, while vindicating the rights of individual clients who have been harmed by illegal use of criminal record data by employers in their hiring practices.

Besides potential CHRIA violations, FEOP may also consider, where appropriate, possible causes of action based on violations of local ordinances, state, and federal laws including but not limited to: Philadelphia’s Fair Practices Ordinance and its “Ban-the-Box” Ordinance, FCRA, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, and FHA.

Click here to read the press release announcing our successful work with Sunoco on this issue, resulting in one of the region’s largest employers proactively implementing hiring practices that give applicants with criminal records a fair opportunity at getting a job.

 

PLSE Amicus Project


The PLSE Amicus Project provides judges with PLSE’s perspective, as a leader in the field of criminal records, on cases that touch upon the collection and dissemination of criminal record data.  Amicus Curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs are a vehicle whereby interested organizations who are not party to the dispute, but have an interest in its outcome,  may file a brief or participate in argument in the matter pending before the court.  PLSE has a unique perspective on issues relating to the collection and dissemination of criminal history data and its briefs assist Pennsylvania courts in its consideration of such matters from the perspective of those who are most affected –  low-income individuals.