This morning brought news that Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher is still hunting for Republican National Convention evildoers. That reminded me of a bit of unfinished business, journalism division.
The St. Paul City Attorney’s Office has been working to drop “unlawful assembly” citations against journalists who covered the RNC. Arrestees qualify if they have no other specific convention-related allegations.
However, a few weeks ago, a source emailed with a cautionary note: Even if the citations don’t result in charges, they don’t disappear. They could still show up in criminal background checks and complicate life in unexpected ways.
Her recommendation: Consider expungement, a court procedure that seals the case from the general public.
There’s irony here: In their day jobs, journalists hate sealed records, so a bogus arrest may force a hypocritical move. (Reckless ticketing: the gift that keeps on giving!) But if you decide to go for it, Ramsey County’s not-exactly-brief expungement guide is here.
Update: City Attorney John Choi notes his office will not contest any individual’s petititon for expungement if their case has been dismissed, or his office declined to file charges. He also notes that due to state law, the arrestee has to be the one petitioning the courts.
And — critical point here — expungement isn’t just an option for journalists, but anyone with dismissed or declined cases. You can find more expungement information here.
By the way, if you’re a journalist who hasn’t yet had your citation dropped, call Deputy City Attorney Therese Skarda at 651-266-8740, or send a fax to 651-298-5532.