Larger turnout than expected at Expungement Fair results in success


By Jake Jenkins

Nearly 200 people walked into the Breslin Center Jan. 21 for Michigan State University’s first ever Expungement Fair seeking to gain eligibility to remove certain offenses from their permanent records.

Linda Greene, Dean of Michigan State College of Law, attended the event and was overwhelmed by what she saw.

“I walked in and saw students, faculty, and clients together discussing the expungement process,” Dean Greene said. “It was exciting because not only did I see the clients, but I was able to see the teams of our students and lawyers providing these services and is the type of connections our law school should have with the community.”

It was, in fact, a collaboration between local attorneys and law students who volunteered to help people with screening to determine eligibility.

“As a law student with a strong interest in practicing criminal law post-graduation, I have experienced just how much harder a criminal conviction can make someone’s life,” said Kelby Clockman, ’24. “I enjoyed seeing the happiness and relief in the faces of the individuals that we worked with. The fair helped expand my knowledge of the expungement process that I can take into practice.”

This fair also featured law students from Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law School, creating an atmosphere for law communities gathering to achieve a common goal.

“I volunteered for this event because it was a great opportunity to give back and learn about one of the many processes of our justice system,” said James Williams, a law student at the Cooley Law. “I worked alongside a lawyer to help individuals fill out their paperwork, so that they could move forward in the expungement process, and it almost felt like a professor as he taught me so much in little time. The knowledge I gained from this opportunity will no doubt benefit my future career as a lawyer.”

The fair provided voluntary, or pro bono, services which provided MSU Law Alum Marisa Vinsky, ’19, a chance to lend a helping hand.

“Pro bono work is very important, and any chance that I can connect with members of the community is a plus,” said Vinsky, Criminal Defense Attorney at Chartier & Nyamfukudza, P.L.C.

“It brings me back to the reason that I wanted to become an attorney in the first place; to help people. This was the fourth expungement fair that I volunteered at, and it was by far one of the smoothest events that I have been to.”

The event was organized by two of MSU Law’s student organizations, The Criminal Defense Association (CDA) andInternational Cannabis Bar Association Michigan State University Student Chapter (INCBA-MSU). 

The lead organizers were Audrea Dakho, president, CDA; Breia Lassiter, vice president, CDA; Alex Padla, president, INCBA-MSU; and Sam Weiser, vice president, INCBA-MSU.

“The turnout was way more than we expected,” Padla said. “It ran really smoothly, and we were able to assist a lot of individuals.”

Along with helping many people expunge their records, Dakho said they were also able to register four individuals to vote.

“We had ancillary services in attendance, and one was the Voting Access for All Coalition,” she said. “They came to inform people that even if one has a prior conviction in the State of Michigan, they are still able to vote.”

MSU staff and faculty members also played a role and assisting students coordinate and organize to make sure it ran efficiently.

“I met with the students planning the fair early in Fall semester to work on the initial ideas with them,” said Catherine Grosso, Professor of Law at MSU and faculty advisor for CDA. “I reviewed their materials but really, I just played a quiet supporting role. I also circulated their fundraising letter to the faculty when they asked me to do so. I thought it was a wonderful event, and really a great success all around.”

Margie Aimery, Director of Events at MSU Law, directed student organizations and worked with MSU police so that everyone had proper connections and resources.

“I offered suggestions and made sure there was enough chairs for seating,” Aimery said. “I also oversaw snacks and food for the guests and volunteers. I cannot express how humbling it was to see such a great event be successful, that was student lead and driven.”

Resources and support for the fair were also provided by the Michigan Attorney General's Office,Safe and Just Michigan and Nation Outside.

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