Sealing of Arrest Records

In connection with Rockefeller Drug Law reform we recently helped to establish a process to seal a drug conviction after a person has completed a rehabilitation program. New York State law provides that if a criminal case is dismissed, or ends in acquittal, the arrest and court records are to be sealed and the arrest is to be "deemed a nullity." In 2005, the Special Litigation Unit, acting as a "friend of the court," helped secure an appeals court ruling that reinforces this principle, holding that sealed records may not be unsealed because a prosecutor wants to use them to press for a harsher sentence after conviction on a new charge. We are now litigating over whether "911 call" tape recordings, made in connection with a dismissed case, are to be considered "sealed" and unavailable for use in related civil proceedings and civil-service disciplinary proceedings.