Legal Clinic plans expungement event to serve Polk County

The University of Tennessee College of Law Legal Clinic is partnering with the Polk County legal community to host a Saturday Expungement Community Court on Nov. 23.

The event will bring together judges, legal partners, and community volunteers at the First Baptist Church of Benton from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to assist residents of Polk County with criminal records.

Prior to the event, University of Tennessee legal clinic students trained in expungement law will review the criminal records of those who pre-register and determine if charges can be removed and old court costs waived. At the event, UT Law students will be assisted by local pro bono attorneys, 10th Judicial District judges, and court clerks, as well as volunteers from the Knoxville Bar Association, Vet to Vet, and the Tennessee Faith and Justice Alliance.

Those interested in receiving free legal assistance must pre-register before Nov. 8 by calling the UT Legal Clinic Expungement Hotline at 865-974-6775.

Under the direction of UT Law Professor Joy Radice, the UT College of Law began offering expungement services four years ago to residents of East Tennessee through the Saturday expungement events. The clinics are also aimed at helping residents better understand Tennessee’s expungement statute. 

“We have organized Saturday clinics in Knoxville, Rutledge, and Madisonville with great success, expunging hundreds of charges from criminal records,” Radice said. “We are happy to be able to bring these free legal services to the residents of Polk County.”

Vet to Vet Tennessee President Ed Junod said he believes the event can make a difference in lives of many Polk County residents.

“We have so many people in this community, especially veterans, who want to improve their lives, but dismissed cases and old, low-level convictions are holding them back,” Junod said. “They want better jobs to support their families and to live in better housing situations.”

Polk County General Sessions Judge Brooklynn Townsend and Criminal Court Judge Sandra Donaghy are hosting the event with assistance from Court Clerk Melissa Keith, Public Defender Richard Hughes, and District Attorney Stephen Crump.

For more information, contact the College of Law Reentry Legal Fellow Anna Rickels at 865-974-5972.