BOSTON - "You make one mistake, it sets you back for the rest of your life," he said. He was a Boston man the I-Team interviewed two years ago, and he wanted to remain anonymous, because he was haunted by his criminal record. It included marijuana crimes that would not amount to charges today.
Now, he goes public. "My name is Kevin Waldron. I am from Mattapan, Massachusetts, and I had a case reversed that will hopefully help the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. You're welcome!"
In a unanimous opinion, Massachusetts' highest court just reversed a lower court's ruling that had denied Kevin Waldron's request to clear his record.
"Yesterday, I just kind of got overwhelmed with emotion thinking about the people that it would help," he said Monday. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's decision sets precedent, and effectively takes power away from lower courts to deny cases like Waldron's.
It's an issue the I-Team has followed for years. Advocates have criticized the courts for too often refusing to clear old marijuana charges, even though on Beacon Hill, legislators had passed an expungement law allowing for it.
"It's not working as intended," said attorney Pauline Quirion back then. "I think there are natural biases. We do get sometimes resistance from judges." Quirion represented Waldron in court through Greater Boston Legal Services.
Monday, the I-Team obtained numbers from Massachusetts Probation Service, showing over the past year there were 1142 requests to get records expunged. Most of those, 833, were denied. That's 73%.
Waldron hopes people in his situation are inspired by his legal triumph. "If people are affected by it, even if they've been displaced, they can come back and find out, hey, this guy, he did it. He's from where I'm from. If we start here, spread out and branch out, I'm fine with that," he said. "There's hope."
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