Monday, March 23, 2009

ExPungement Attorney Tamara Holder Responds to My Blog

I am Tamara Holder and while I respect your opinion of me, your blog is misleading.

Let me correct you in saying that an expungement does NOT clear criminal records of convicted felons. An expungement is for someone who has no convictions whatsoever. This person has arrests or non-convictions.

Also, let me correct you in saying that I have fought for answers from Chicago Police & Jody Weis for the family of slain Chicago Police officer Jose Vazquez who was gunned down outside of his home just over 2 years ago. We are all waiting for some answers on who killed this wonderful husband/brother/son.

So, as we are all entitled to our own opinions, I appreciate the opportunity to clarify your blog.

And I welcome a meeting with you at any time. It's not polite to judge people who you do not know.

11:24 PM

Thanks for the clarification Ms. Holder. As I am just a layman and certainly no Captain of the Bar, my opinions are developed through experience and study. Your activism and notoriety helped gave shape and dimension to my simple point of view. Thus:(

The Progress Illinois piece and the subsequent Mary Mitchell rant against the Illinois State Police seemed to indicate that 'expungement' in fact was for criminally convicted felons and miscreants who had been good for a couple of years:

Mary Mitchell:

Expungements and the sealing of criminal records of people with low-level felony or misdemeanor arrests or convictions were viewed as critical to urban communities where unemployment figures were double-digits long before the country sank into a steep recession.
Chicago Sun Times

State Rep. Constance Howard (D-Chicago) and Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Westchester) have introduced HB 3961, which seeks to clarify the expungement process laid out in the Criminal Identification Act. The bill sets a 60-day timetable for filing a response to relevant court-orders. It would also heighten oversight of the ISP decisions by requiring the agency to generate additional reports for the Governor, General Assembly, Attorney General’s office, and the Illinois State Appellate Defender’s office to review.

Meanwhile, Judge Paul Biebel, head of the Criminal Division of the Cook County Circuit Court -- whose orders were ignored by ISP roughly 13 percent of the time in 2007 alone -- has taken on the job of sorting this mess out. Madigan is also working with a team of pro-bono attorneys -- from the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, the Chicago Legal Clinic-Austin Circle Law Center, and the Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic -- to make sure the situation is rectified.
Angela Caputo Progress Illinois

An interview by Jaqueline Thompson)
I received an opportunity to interview Tamara Holder, the lawyer provided by Jackson and the Rainbow Push Coalition for residents who were caught in the web of new police tactics for people control.

Residents' Journal: Has there been a Class Action Suit filed on behalf of the residents of Harold Ickes concerning police harassment with contact cards and trespassing?

Tamara Holder: Yes. The suit was filed for many based on the contact cards, only after the trespass cases had been solved and thrown out of court. About five more people have trespassing cases pending in court and once they are done, there will be a separate class action suit filed for them. ( emphasis my own)

RJ: Can you tell from your experience in court with the residents whether or not the City is sympathetic or apathetic about the residents’ complaints?

TH: I think they are disinterested in the issue because the CPD is part of the City of Chicago and an extension of it. If they were sympathetic, they would make the officers cease and dismiss these practices.
RJ: It is a known fact that there are a lot of homeless people in and around Ickes and sometimes at night they are raided whilst sleeping in the halls and are arrested for it. What are your feelings about the City’s role in servicing the homeless population? Do you know if the City addresses the situation in any way?

TH: The city’s condo housing has protection from illegal entry by guards at the front doors. You can’t get in without a key or a key card. The residents of public housing should be protected from strangers or non-residents too. They have just as much right as others. Homeless people need homes. Chicago has made no provisions for them. Public housing is sort of a back door shelter. Anybody can come in, defecate, urinate, vomit and trash the place.

RJ: Are you in touch with clients of other developments for the same or similar incidents of harassment, trespassing or arrests?

TH: No. I only know that the Cabrini Green development has a community activist group that is addressing resident treatment from CPD.

For more on Tamara Holder and Expungements:


Tamara said...

Thank you for posting this blog. I you choose to write a blog about any of my work in the future, please call me before making assumptions.

One more minor clarification: There is ONE type of felony "conviction" that is expungeable - that's for the FIRST time offender of Class 4 Felony Prostitution or Class 4 Felony Possession of a Controlled Substance.

Again, this is for someone who has ONE single conviction of either of these offenses. Class 4 possession is basically "personal use" possession. This is the person who probably had a minor drug problem. This is NOT for all drug offenses, not for the person caught with a kilo of coke, not for the guy caught dealing in a school zone or for a guy who has other felony convictions. This is simply for the person who got caught with a small amount of drugs and has not been convicted of any other felonies prior to or after the Class 4 felony conviction.

Same for the person convicted ONE time of class 4 felony prostitution. Many women (and men too) find themselves in a situation of selling themselves on the street. After getting caught and charged with a felony, the law allows them to expunge their record after 5 years.

I am assuming, Pat Hickey, you think this person shouldn't be entitled to expunge either of these offenses. But, I can tell you there are many people who get caught up in drugs at a young age, and after going though the judicial system once, they get the help they need and never return to a life of getting high. First offender expungement of these non-violent offenses is allowed by virtue of the law & any disagreement you have with this should be taken up with your legislators, not with me.

Again, these are the ONLY two exceptions to the expungement and sealing laws. Otherwise, no other felonies can be expunged or sealed. Any other felony conviction (and that includes felony probation) requires a Governor's pardon. Governor's pardons are granted on a case-by-case basis. Just because someone applies for a pardon, that does not mean the Governor will grant the pardon.

Also, you previously wrote a blog about me when I was fighting the Ickes case. Many people opposed my position but let me clarify for you that I was not fighting for the drug dealers and violent people of the Ickes. I was fighting for the people who were arrested for trespass when they either lived on the property or were visiting relatives of the property. Not all residents of public housing are bad people.

Furthermore, I took this case on pro bono. Rev. Jackson did not "assign" this case to me. I took this case on by myself and asked for his assistance in speaking out about the problem. I have never worked for Rev. Jackson. I created an expungement clinic there almost 3 years ago; however, last summer, I discontinued my clinic. I was able to help many people and that gives me great pleasure as I move through life - even though no good deed goes unpunished.

pathickey said...


You are very gracious to say so and shall be afforded my strictest attention to good graces in the future.

Stop by and and cobble me often!

I shall do the same - within the proper parameters of courtesy and good manners.

Tamara said...

Thank you, Pat Hickey, for allowing me to clarify the expungement laws and also my positions.

As I previously mentioned, I read your blog about me when I fought the Ickes issue and I took what you said about me to heart.

I am not a bad person and for that reason, I welcome any meeting with you. I have certain personal beliefs and convictions that many (even my own family members) totally disagree with.

These minority positions have nothing to do with my personal character. Now, if you meet me and think I'm a total loser, you are entitled to an opinion!

After I was in the cancer ward at Children's Hospital for a biopsy on a lymph node at age 12 (it ended up being non-cancerous), I knew my mission in life was to help people. Didn't know helping would come with such scrutiny.

Ok, I'm off the soap box. But PLEASE, do me a favor: if you are going to write anything about me, write the opinion based on facts.

Thank you for posting my responses to your blog. I hope the expungement clarification will help any of your readers who are possibly confused about the laws.

Tamara Holder

Tamara said...

Maybe next time you can use a better picture of me. I haven't been blonde in 3 years!

pathickey said...

I will use your current and very fetching photo to be sure!