Victory in Criminal Records Appellate Case

John Doe v. The State of Georgia

On September 6, 2018, The Georgia Court of Appeals reversed the ruling of a Bulloch County judge who refused to seal a criminal record for a youthful marijuana arrest, which resulted in the charges being dismissed, after the defendant went on to lead a crime-free life and advance his education and career. The court noted that the prosecutor had not introduced any evidence of why the public needed to know about this particular arrest, which had already been restricted from Doe’s official Georgia criminal history years ago.

Georgia Justice Project worked closely with Doe’s counsel, Jeffrey Filipovits. In January, GJP submitted an amicus brief, explaining the purpose of O.C.G.A. § 35-3-37(m), which was passed as part of Governor Deal’s criminal justice reform efforts and allows certain criminal court records – primarily records of cases that did not result in a conviction – to be sealed from public access. The brief discussed the necessity of the provision in reducing barriers for people with a criminal history who may be denied employment or housing, even when their charges did not result in a conviction. GJP joined Doe’s counsel in arguing before the Court of Appeals on February 15th, emphasizing the necessity of sealing in the modern era of widespread access to digitized court records and the responsibility of courts to implement the sealing provision in a meaningful way.

Read the opinion here. 

Read the Daily Report’s coverage here.