By China Boynton

The Broward State Attorney’s Office held a seal and expungement workshop on October 20 at the Ovetta McKiethen center in Deerfield Beach. The workshop was put on to help Broward County residents get previous criminal offenses expunged or sealed.

Everyone volunteers their time from different aspects of the Broward County court system, for example, Assistant State Attorney for adults and juveniles’, local defense attorneys, Broward Sherrif’s Office, and even volunteers from the office of the clerk of courts come out and volunteer their time to the process of helping residents clear their records.

According to Jumorow Johnson who is the Director of Community Outreach for the State Attorney’s Office, this workshop was started in 2015 when the former state attorney Michael Satz was in office.

“It was very important and vital to continue this process because this is something that services the community above all else,” said Johnson. “We have people who have paid their debt to society and deserve a second chance and we want to be able to provide that second chance for people in the community.”

The workshop is a one-stop shop. Residents that are eligible can go through a well-choreographed process of filing out an application, getting their records checked, fingerprinting through the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and they even have notaries on-site.

The Clerk of Court’s office attends the workshop to make sure that once residents are approved for seal and expungement that they receive the certified copies from the Clerk of Court’s office.

“Everything they do once they hit the door is free and even though I am the record keeper of fees, fines, and court costs, I want my community to know that we want to make sure that they are getting the help that they need,” said Clerk of Court Brenda C. Forman. “We want the community to know that my staff and I don’t want to just collect your money, we want to help you get back on your feet.”

The participants have to pay a $75 fee to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement once their packet is ready to be sent off. However, the law firm Greenspoon Mader was also in attendance to share legal expertise and decided to pay the fee for some of the attendees. Other local defense attorneys also came out to lend their expertise to the workshop like Kevin Mcgill who has volunteered at the workshop for a number of years.

“I volunteered to help explain to people why they might not be eligible for sealing or expungement of a prior arrest or see if there was a mistake that could qualify them for expungement,” said Mcgill.

The private bar charges anywhere from $750 to $2500 so Mcgill decided to lend his knowledge for free because he knows how tough it is for working class people to come up with that amount of money.

The seal and expungement workshop is put on quarterly and is available in other cities like Pompano Beach and Lauderhill and they are always looking for volunteers like Assistant State Attorney Islam Deshoush who helps out at the defense table during the workshop.

“The success stories that I see are the smiles on people’s faces when they qualify for expungement or even if they just received the advice and help that they needed,” said Deshoush. “It lets me know that we’re truly making an impact in people’s lives because it’s hard to find employment or housing when you have a record.”

A woman by the name of Ella Phillips who works for the public defender’s office created the workshop as a legislative aid and the state attorney’s office was able to perfect it through experience and hard work throughout the years.

Harold Pryor who this the first black state attorney in Florida says that he has been involved in the workshop since he was an assistant state attorney and decided to take it over and expand on the concept when he came into office in Broward county.

“This is just a testament to how eager people are to want to give back,” said Pryor. “It’s amazing to work with people who are willing to give up their time and experience for the betterment of the community.”

The state attorney’s office is always looking for volunteers and if you would like to check if you are eligible for seal and expungement contact them at or 954–831–6955.

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