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- 2014 - February - 24th -
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Chardea Murray

Pro bono spotlight: Restoring rights, repairing records, rebuilding hope

By Chardea Murray, Three Rivers Legal Services Pro Bono Coordinator

The right to vote, the right to bear arms and the right to serve on a jury are precious civil liberties that the average person fails to appreciate.

While a number of citizens take these rights for granted, a group of individuals are estopped from exercising these liberties.

In Florida, the government permanently strips past convicted felons of essential civil rights until the Board of Executive Clemency restores these liberties.

As a swing state in past presidential elections and due to backlash surrounding the verdicts in recent jury trials, Florida is a crucial state where the ability to exercise civil rights is vital.

Furthermore, Floridians also struggle with clearing their names after being charged with crimes due to the complexity of the sealing and expungement process. The current process hinders past offenders from moving on with their lives and becoming productive, successful contributors to society.

As a result, Three Rivers Legal Services Inc. is partnering with the D.W. Perkins Bar Association Inc. and various pro bono attorneys to implement “Project R: Restoring Rights, Repairing Records and Rebuilding Hope.”

Restoring rights workshops

To assist past convicted felons with restoring their civil rights, Three Rivers and volunteer attorneys from the D.W. Perkins Bar Association Inc. joined forces to host a series of Restoration of Civil Rights workshops.

The workshops are scheduled to occur quarterly on Thursdays from 6:15-7:15 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Historic Springfield Community Learning Center, 1601 N. Main St. on May 15, Aug. 21 and Nov. 20. Volunteer attorney Guy Victor Murray of Guy Victor Murray served as a presenter at the kick-off workshop Thursday.

Repairing records clinics

Momentary lapses in judgment can haunt a person for the rest of his or her life, thereby creating hardships and obstacles as past offenders strive to start fresh and better their futures.

Therefore, in addition to restoring civil rights, Three Rivers is teaming up with local pro bono attorneys to host a series of sealing and expungement clinics to help community members repair their records.

The clinics are scheduled to occur quarterly on Thursdays from 6:15-7:15 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Historic Springfield Community Learning Center located at 1601 N. Main St. on April 17, July 17 and Oct. 16. Pro bono attorney Reganel Reeves of the Justice League Law Group volunteered to host the first clinic.

Rebuilding hope

“Project R” also joins the quarterly calendar with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid’s “Ask A Lawyer” events on March 29, Sept. 20 and Dec. 6.

Together with our voluntary bar associations, Three Rivers and JALA will continue to provide the legal community with a variety of pro bono opportunities to allow private attorneys to give back.

We invite all pro bono attorneys to join the cause as we diligently strive to rebuild hope in the community. To get involved with “Project R,” contact Three Rivers Pro Bono Coordinator Chardea Murray at chardea.murray@trls.org, and to participate in “Ask-A-Lawyer,” contact JALA’s Pro Bono Director Kathy Para at kathy.para@jaxlegalaid.org

For more information on pro bono opportunities throughout the 4th Judicial Circuit, contact Kathy Para, chairwoman of The Jacksonville Bar Association Pro Bono Committee, kathy.para@jaxlegalaid.org.

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