or validity of his conviction, let alone the legality or validity of his arrest or the indictment to which he pled guilty. In addition, Sherman did not present any evidence that the government had or would misuse his criminal record. Sherman also failed to support his contention that he would be denied the positions he desired if his record were to become known. He merely "stated his conclusion that this would be the case." Id. at 870.
Sherman's final argument was that even if no exceptional circumstances were present, the court should still use its equitable powers to grant his motion. However, none of the cases cited by Sherman supported the proposition that a court "should use its equitable powers to expunge the criminal records of a defendant who has pled guilty, been convicted, and who has not challenged the circumstances or fact of that conviction." Id. Instead, the cases only permitted expunction (1) where the records were inaccurate or acquired by flawed procedures, Chastain v. Kelley, 167 U.S. App. D.C. 11, 510 F.2d 1232, 1236 (D.C. Cir. 1975); (2) where the indictment was dismissed sua sponte by the government, Diamond v. United States, 649 F.2d 496, 498 (7th Cir. 1981); or (3) where the government not only dropped the charges but concluded that the defendant was in fact innocent, United States v. Van Wagner, 746 F. Supp. 619, 620 (E.D. Va. 1990).
Here, as in Sherman, defendant pled guilty to relatively minor charges many years ago and wishes to have the records expunged out of fear that they will hurt her "professional opportunities" -- notwithstanding the government's significant interest in preserving such records. She also does not challenge the legality or validity of her conviction, her arrest, or the indictment to which she pled guilty, but merely appeals to the equitable discretion of the Court. Finally, defendant does not establish that the government will misuse her records in any way or that she will be denied the positions she desires if her records become known. Like defendant Sherman, she merely "states [her] conclusion that this would be the case." Sherman, 782 F. Supp. at 870. In sum, defendant has not convinced the Court that it "should use its equitable powers to expunge the criminal records of a defendant who has pled guilty, been convicted, and who has not challenged the circumstances or fact of that conviction." Id.
The district court in Van Wagner noted a distinction between circumstances in which expunction is sought by a wholly innocent individual, mistakenly arrested and indicted, and a situation where relief is sought by a defendant who has been convicted and admits her guilt, as here. While expunction might be justified in the former case out of notions of fundamental fairness, the court believed that completely "erasing" the records in the latter case "would give the 'defendant more relief than if [she] had been acquitted.'" Van Wagner, 746 F. Supp. at 622 (quoting Rogers v. Slaughter, 469 F.2d 1084, 1085 (5th Cir. 1972). In other words, even people who are acquitted of a crime must face the reality that a record of their arrest and indictment will be preserved as a matter of course.
The Court recognizes that retention of her criminal record may create a poignant problem for defendant in that it has the potential to affect the path her life will take. Notwithstanding that fact, however, the Court is constrained to rule against defendant because she has not demonstrated circumstances like those that previously have been acknowledged to outweigh the government's interest in maintaining criminal records. Defendant's motion to have her criminal records expunged is hereby DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
February 13, 1996
Binghamton, New York
HON. THOMAS J. McAVOY
Chief U.S. District Judge
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