On Thursday, July 25, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, in partnership with the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan State Bar Foundation, launched Project Access, a traveling expungement clinic that will visit several rural counties helping people to expunge their criminal records. The kickoff press conference was held at the Michigan Hall of Justice in Lansing.
“Clearing your record can make a difference in getting a job, in restoring a professional license, getting a student loan, getting into college, graduating from college, it makes a difference in securing housing and getting a loan for a home,” said Chief Justice Bridget M. McCormack in her opening remarks.
Project Access is funded by a grant from the Michigan State Bar Foundation and is spearheaded by Clinton County Circuit Judge Michelle Rick, a 1991 graduate of Detroit Mercy Law and an adjunct professor who teaches Access to Justice.
“Project Access is a daring innovation designed to restore dignity, pride and in some instances, life necessities to persons among us who have paid their debt to society and who have otherwise atoned for their past wrongdoings,” said Rick. “As a circuit judge, I have seen firsthand the power an expungement can have, and it is awesome.”
From July 26 – Aug. 2, eight Detroit Mercy Law student volunteers will visit Gratiot, Wexford, Missaukee, Kalkaska, Crawford and Otsego counties to assist convicted individuals with what can often be a complicated process. Using resources from Michigan Legal Help, the students will screen applicants and then, if they qualify, assist with the application process. Students will work with local judges and volunteer attorneys to file the paperwork in court and schedule hearing dates for the applicants.
“[Project Access] epitomizes our commitment to serving those in need and to helping students learn and appreciate the importance of making a positive difference in others’ lives,” said Detroit Mercy Law Dean Phyllis L. Crocker. “All of that is part of educating the complete lawyer, and is representative of our law school and university’s core values.”