Attorneys participate in 'Know Your Rights' program, expungement fair

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The National Bar Association and Triumph Church, in conjunction with Lakeshore Legal Aid, presented a “Know Your Rights Program & Expungement Fair” on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Triumph Church East Campus in Detroit. Among those contributing to the event were (l-r) Ralph Godbee, Know Your Rights panel member and chief of police for Detroit City Schools; Robin Kinloch, first lady at Triumph Church; Monique Campbell, program committee member and SBE training and program director at HNTB-Devry University; Reginald Turner of Clark Hill PLC and past president of the National Bar Association; Robyn McCoy, Know Your Rights panel member of McCoy & Associates PLLC; Anthony Adams, program committee member of Marine Adams Law PC; Angelique Strong Marks, program chairperson and general counsel & corporate secretary of MAHLE Industries; Melissa Durity, program co-chairperson of Novara, Tesija, & Cantenacci PLLC; and Joseph Drayton, immediate past president of the National Bar Association, partner at Cooley LLP.

Photo by John Meiu

On Saturday, Feb. 1, in conjunction with the first day of Black History Month, Triumph Church in Detroit, with the support of other local legal organizations, co-sponsored the National Bar Association’s launch of the “Know Your Rights” program.

The National Bar Association is the nation’s oldest and largest national network of predominantly African-American attorneys and judges. It represents the interests of approximately 65,000 lawyers, judges, law professors and law students throughout the country and abroad. The history of the National Bar Association begins in 1925 and it has engaged in all of the country’s civil rights advancements.
Triumph Church has been a community pillar in the Metro Detroit area since 1920. Led by Pastor Solomon W. Kinloch, Jr., and First Lady Robin Kinloch, Triumph ministers at seven locations and reaches more than 20,000 lives weekly.

More than 600 people enjoyed and learned during the informative program that featured music, poetry and the National Bar Association’s “Know Your Rights” videos. The program also included an informative panel that discussed what citizens should do in a police encounter with panelists Nathan White, who leads the Coalition Against Police Brutality; Ralph Godbee, who serves as the chief of police for Detroit City Schools; and Robin McCoy, who is a partner of McCoy & Associates and a producer of her own “Know Your Rights” videos regarding police encounters. The keynote speaker for the event was Rev. Dr. Frederick Douglass Haynes III of Friendship Baptist Church in Dallas, Tex.

The Black History Month event included a soul food lunch catered by Beans & Cornbread, which featured its renowned Shoebox Lunch commemorative package that is reflective of a period in the country’s history when people of African descent were not allowed to eat in public places and would decorate lunchboxes and pack them with food so they could eat when they traveled.

In conjunction with the same event, the National Bar Association and Triumph Church partnered with Lakeshore Legal Aid to host an Expungement Fair. The purpose of the fair was to help individuals with criminal records determine if their records were eligible for expungement.

 For individuals who were eligible for expungement, the program provided lawyers, who Lakeshore Legal Aid trained, with legal support on completing the court documents for requesting expungement, provided the official ICHAT report that the court requires with filing, and, with the generous support of the Detroit Police Department, provided a set of official fingerprints that the courts also require for expungement filings. Lakeshore Legal Aid then initiated the process of pairing the expungement candidate with a pro bono attorney to assist them through the court process.

More than 100 lawyers, paralegals, notary publics and law students volunteered their services to support the Expungement Fair. All program participants had an opportunity to participate in a Community Resources Room to gain valuable resources to assist them.

Community Resources participants included the Secretary of State, which assisted individuals with securing state identification; the League of Women’s Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union, Councilwoman Janee Ayers’ Detroit Returning Citizens Task Force, Rainbow Recovery Center of Michigan, Midwest Center for Employment Opportunities, the United Way and the Detroit Recovery Project.

“It is an honor to be able to serve,” said Angelique Strong Marks. “Michigan’s expungement process is so complicated and there are over 100,000 individuals in the Metro-Detroit area who are eligible for expungement but have not participated in the process. We know this program is only reaching a small number of those individuals but it is also causing awareness. As Michigan seeks to reform its laws on expungement, many of the people participating in our Know Your Rights program, like Robyn McCoy and Nathan White, will continue to seek meaningful change around this issue and other issues related to the criminal justice system. The NBA’s Know Your Rights campaign is a national program, on which I continue to serve. I, like so many others, am committed to working at a local in support of reforming Michigan laws.”

More than 600 people received information or support regarding the expungement process and over 100 people registered to vote. Angelique Strong Marks, general counsel & corporate secretary of MAHLE Industries Inc., served as the chairperson for the event with Melissa Durity of Novara, Tesija, & Catenacci PLLC serving as co-chairperson. Other committee members included Anthony Adams of Marine Adams Law PC, Monique Campbell, and Andrea Cartwright of Cartwright Law Firm PLLC. Honored guests at the day’s events included Reginald Turner of Clark Hill PLC and Joseph Drayton of Cooley LLP, both of whom have served as National Bar Association presidents. The Know Your Rights video campaign is the project Joseph Drayton initiated during his term as the National Bar Association president. The Know Your Rights videos are free for use to the public and found through the National Bar Association website and on YouTube.

The events sponsors were Platinum Sponsors: Foley & Lardner LLP, Clark Hill PLC and Beans & Cornbread; Gold Sponsors: Wolverine Bar Association and Honigman LLP; Silver Sponsors: Miller, Canfield, Paddock, & Stone PLC and Henry Ford Hospital: Bronze Sponsor: Dickinson Wright PLLC; and Supporting Sponsors: Dykema Gossett LLC and D. Augustus Straker Bar Association, 1StrongSister, 2StrongSisters, Minister Roosevelt Lawrence Jr., Lavonda Jackson, Melissa Durity, and Garan, Lucow, Miller PC.


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