Petition for expungement wrongfully denied.
On September 30, 2011, the ACLU-NJ filed an amicus brief with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice in support of Ronald Kollman’s petition for expungement. Expungement petitions are designed to provide relief to first time offenders who can prove that they have successfully been rehabilitated. The collateral consequences of a criminal record can have devastating impacts on all aspects of a person’s life and research has shown that by the time a person is eligible for an expungement their risk of recidivism is at the same level as the rest of the population. The ACLU-NJ argued that the trial court abused its discretion by denying Mr. Kollman’s expungement petition based on irrelevant factors and by substituting its own standards for the expungement standards set by the legislature. The brief also argues that the court considered inappropriate evidence relating to charges that had been dismissed and that the court disregarded state statutes and common sense by determining that the sale of ecstasy was more serious than that of heroin or cocaine. In July 2012 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that although the petitioner bears the burden of proof for an expungement there must be a balance between the nature of the offense and the petitioner's character and conduct.