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Expunging References of Sex Crimes That Had Been Acquitted From Records

On June 9, 2005, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Third Department heard the case of Isaiah Brown, Appellant, v. Glenn S. G, as Commissioner of Correctional Services, Respondent. The appellant in this case wanted to have certain information expunged from documents provided to the petitioner under the Freedom of Information Law.

The petitioner was incarcerated at the time, resulting from his conviction of various sex crimes. These included the assault of a woman. The petitioner was also charged with rape and sodomy in the first degree in connection with this assault, but he was not convicted of these crimes. The petitioner later attempted to gain access to certain documents that were part of the rape and sodomy charges. His request was denied at first, but later the First Department reversed the decision on the basis that the proof submitted by the petitioner showed that the woman assaulted in this sex crime did not have an identity that needed to be protected,

After this, in August 2003, the petitioner attempted to access certain documents under the Freedom of Information Law, including his entire guidance file. He was denied access to some of the documents that he wanted. Subsequently, the petitioner challenged the accuracy of the file, specifically the fact that some documents contained improper references to his sex crimes. He requested that this information should be expunged. This request was denied because the information originated from his presentence investigation report prepared by the New York City Department of Probation. The next hearing was in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, requesting the Court to override this decision and allow the information to be expunged from his records. The petitioner also challenged the denial of some of the documents in his initial Freedom of Information request. This request was denied, which prompted this appeal.

Because the petitioner did not challenge the presentence investigation report, but only the misinformation in the documents in his guidance file maintained by Correctional Services, it was determined that the New York City Department of Probation is not necessarily a party to this proceeding. The Court determined that the petitioner’s request to have all information in his file that refers to him as a sex crime offender should be removed from his guidance file, and that it should have been granted in a previous hearing. The petitioner had been acquitted of the sex crimes even though the presentence report indicated his guilt in this matter. The only basis for this was the reporter’s conclusion that he was guilty of rape and sodomy, charges that he had already been acquitted from. The Court concluded that all references to the petitioner as a sex crime offender should be removed from his records.

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