I have been advised it is now taking over 90 days to receive your records from the Kentucky State Police. Remember, we have to secure your records, before we can file to expunge your Kentucky Criminal Records. The Courts, and specifically, the Office of the County Circuit Court where your offense occurred will not permit us to file for expungement, until and unless your Kentucky Criminal Record is affixed to your petition, filing documents and proposed Expungement Order. This is due to the following factors.
- There has been a 400% increase in expungement petitions as a result of SB 57 passed in 2019.
- The General Assembly passed in unfunded mandate for KSP to expunge dismissed cases after June 20, 2020 passage of a bill that mandates expunge of dismissed cases. An unfunded mandate means that the legislature has ordered the Kentucky State Police to perform this service, without providing the Agency additional funding to perform the work. In other words KSP must now expunge thousands of additional records but they did not provide funding to hire additional employees to perform this work.
- Two of the divisions h 5 employees have either quit or requested transfers as a result of the additional work without additional employees
- She advised me that it takes six months to train replacements.
- This is a mind-numbing Act by the legislature. It has created a backlog
As a result, I sent the Supervisor, as the leading advocate for expungement, the lawyer who helped draft and pass Kentucky's expungement law, the lawyer who testified before the Judiciary Committee to answer the Committee's questions and to encourage passage, a request to help me educate other lawyers and our client's about this issue. Please note: I am not criticizing this supervisor, I have nothing but personal respect and personal satisfaction with her work. It is a legislative and allocation issue. This was her response.
"I hope you are doing well. I am increasingly receiving calls from clients frustrated about not receiving the AOC?KSP records. While the statute mandates 30 days, it is taking far more than 90 days. KRS 431.079 covers the expungement certification process and it does not mention a timeline or have any sort of mandate. AOC's website says that we try to complete in 60 days, but again we are under no mandate."
Do you have a production guideline I can provide my clients and the Bar? We do not have a production guideline; mostly because we are limited to staffing that can change on a daily basis.because I have tried to explain to them about covid shutdowns and staff shortages in clerk and prosecutors' offices. I have explained that with the passage in 2019 that mandated additional work for your division by requiring the expungement of dismissed charges without providing funding for more employees for the work involved. I have shared with them that two of five employees either resigned or transferred from your division. But I, as their attorney, have become the party they are blaming. Unfortunately, I am very familiar with the blaming and our staff gets yelled at, threatened, cussed at, etc on a routine basis.
A letter from you with expected timelines? I am not comfortable committing to any timelines. I want to, but with little to no funding and limited by state staffing guidelines we just can't do that. and perhaps the reminder that Circuit Courts have 120 days I can't commit or even comment on the court portion. to set a hearing date will reenforce the problems systemically. The clients read newspaper accounts of seminars and think they are getting expungement the same day when in fact these seminars are facing the same challenges. We deal with misinformation and misunderstandings on a daily basis. Unfortunately, I do not have a good answer to these problems because the legislature has made the process so complicated.
Last week a male intoxicated client threatened me because of the records issue. I repeatedly had explained to him all the issues above. I had filed his petition within 24 hours of his payment and receipt of the AOC records. I would really appreciate a letter from you explaining what I have outline above. Some of these clients are desperately waiting for expungement so they pursue a job opening, apply to Graduate School, post for a management opening or promotion. I want to be able to manage their expectations, but I have to know the timelines!
I am very hesitant to give you timelines, for the reasons I mentioned earlier, and there are so many different people/agencies/depts that are involved so timelines for only one part of the process so it seems very misleading.
Perhaps it would be beneficial your office to respond to each petition filed the estimated date the records would be sent.
This is not feasible for several reasons. Our office doesn't have adequate staff as it is, so to increase their workload by adding more steps to their workflow is not feasible. Additionally, at the time of receiving the request we generally do not know the estimated date of completion. There are so many factors involved. On some records we have to request and wait for additional documents from the court. Sometimes that takes days, but sometimes that take weeks.
We need to advise our clients; I would like to update my email that I send when I order their records to conservatively advise them when to expect their records. I will post to the bar when they can expect records to be available. The private bar has a Facebook page for members only and I will share your letter. I know your office is overwhelm, I am an advocate for the job you do. Please provide some information I can share, please consider asking Lexis Nexus in their confirmation of payment to provide an estimate as to receipt of the records, I think this small step will relieve a lot of problems. Work with Lexis so that your office and Lexis can update estimated fulfillment dates. Lexis only processes the payments, they have no other involvement in the expungement process. I would be happy to meet or talk with anyone in your office. I would be happy to talk to the Governor's office to try to help but this is frustrating for your office and for the Bar.
We need adequate pay for employees so then maybe we could hire and retain staff. The starting salary for the staff that works in the expungement dept is $23,638/yr.
While, I could file to hold the state police in contempt for failing to comply with the statutory mandate to provide records within 30 days, however I believe a court will cite Covid as a reason and thus I would alienate KSP and I would not succeed. I to tell you we have to be patient, but we simply do.