Reentry Legal Services (ReLeSe)
ReLeSe is a program dedicated exclusively to serving the reentry population, by helping individuals with criminal records to address civil legal matters that are barriers to community re-integration, working to secure fair and equal treatment for these individuals within the legal system and facilitating successful community and family reunification. From limited-scope legal clinics to full representation cases, ReLeSe confronts and resolves issues that the reentry population encounters most commonly, suspended driver's license (including municipal court fines, warrants and Motor Vehicle Commission surcharges) and expungement of New Jersey criminal records. We also serve reentry clients with child support modification issues through our Child Support Program.
Criminal Record Expungement program
Who can participate?
This program's legal clinic is staffed exclusively by attorneys with Gibbons PC. Attorneys outside of Gibbons PC can volunteer to accept full representation expungement cases. No prior criminal law or expungement experience is needed prior to volunteering. Training materials, including sample forms are available and must be reviewed before volunteering for the program.
What do volunteers do?
Clinic volunteers provide advice concerning client’s eligibility to expunge their New Jersey criminal records. Volunteers make this assessment based on clients’ criminal case history (CCH) reports and other supporting documents. If more information is needed before an assessment can be given, volunteers advise clients what additional documents are needed. If the client is ineligible for expungement, the attorney provides the client with advice about expungement law and referral to social service agencies that may be of assistance. Clinic attorneys may also take eligible cases on for full representation. Clinics are held at Gibbons on the 2nd Tuesday of the month for two hours (exact times vary).
Attorneys outside of Gibbons may accept full representation cases that are not picked up for full representation at the clinic. Cases may require additional review to determine the client’s eligibility. A VLJ staff attorney attends each clinic and is available to mentor attorneys handling full representation cases. A successful expungement is life-changing legal relief and our volunteers are a vital part of making that change happen.
How to sign up
If you work at Gibbons, please check with the pro bono coordinator at your firm and complete our volunteer registration form. If you work outside of Gibbons and would like to volunteer to take on full representation expungements, please fill out our registration form. Cases are referred via VLJ’s case opportunities list, which is emailed out on the first and third Wednesday of the month. All new volunteers are immediately signed up to receive this email listing of available cases. If you see a case you are interested in, you should email the VLJ staff person on the case list who will then send you conflict information.
Driver's License Restoration Program
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?
No prior driver’s license or municipal court experience is required to volunteer. However, attorneys with municipal court experience are particularly encouraged to volunteer. Training materials are available and volunteers must review them before volunteering with this program.
WHAT DO VOLUNTEERS DO?
Clinic volunteers review driver's license suspension information provided by the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) and identify ways to resolve suspensions which are commonly municipal violations, MVC surcharges, and administrative restoration fees. Specifically, volunteers draft letter motions to the municipal court and advise clients who appear pro se, thereby resolving outstanding matters, unpaid fines, and clearing bench warrants that have caused clients to live in a perpetual state of fear. Volunteers may elect to take on full representation matters if they determine that the case is not well-suited to proceed pro se. Driver's license restoration helps lead to job placement, economic stability, and financial independence. A VLJ staff attorney attends each clinic and mentors attorneys handling full representation cases. Clinics are held in downtown Newark on the 3rd Thursday of the month from 1:00-5:00 pm.
HOW to sign up
If you are interested in learning about upcoming training, volunteering at the monthly clinic, or handing a case for full representation, complete our volunteer registration form.