United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Savannah Division
J. Stevenson was arrested on Fort Stewart Military
Reservation for possession of marijuana. See doc. 1
at 1. She was sentenced to a year of probation and fined, and
she successfully complied. Docs. 6 & 7. Now, Stevenson
asks the Court to expunge her record, given that she has
“completed probations with no violations.” Doc.
8. The Government has filed no opposition.
Stevenson's successful completion of her probation and
repayment of her fine is to be commended:
It has been recognized that “[t]here is no specific
constitutional or general statutory right to
expungement.” United States v. Carson, 366
F.Supp.2d 1151, 1154 (M.D. Fla. 2004), citing, Sealed
Appellant v. Sealed Appellee, 130 F.3d 695, 699-700 (5th
Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 523 U.S. 1077
(1998). To the extent the district courts have authority to
grant expungement, “the Court's privilege to
expunge matters of public record is one of exceedingly narrow
scope.” Rogers v. Slaughter, 469 F.2d 1084,
1085 (5th Cir. 1972). Except in cases of juveniles, the Court
is unaware of a court approving the expungement of an adult
conviction which was not either set aside or found to be the
result of government misconduct. This is so despite the
adverse consequences which result from the continued
existence of a conviction appearing on the public record.
Such consequences do not rise to the level of extreme
circumstances which will justify expungement of a
criminal conviction. See United States v. Schnitzer,
567 F.2d 536, 540 (2d Cir. 1977), cert. denied, 425
U.S. 907 (1978). As the court in Rogers stated,
“[t]he judicial editing of history is likely to produce
a greater harm than [that] sought to [be] corrected.”
Rogers, 469 F.2d at 1085.
United States v. Goodrich, 2008 WL 398950 at * 1
(S.D. Fla. Feb. 12, 2008) (emphasis added, footnotes
omitted), quoted in Johnson v. Goodrich, 2012 WL
5931673 at *1 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 26, 2012) & United
States v. McCullough, 2017 WL 78577 at *2 (S.D. Ga. Jan.
circumstances” refers to scenarios like:
 when mass arrests render judicial determination of
probable cause impossible . . .  when a court determines
that the sole purpose of the arrest was to harass the
defendant . . .  where the police misused the police
records to the detriment of the defendant . . .  where the
arrest was proper but was based upon a statute later declared
unconstitutional . . .  when the expungement of criminal
records is necessary to preserve basic legal rights.
United States v. Woods, 2013 WL 3189081 at * 2 (S.D.
Fla. June 20, 2013) (footnote added).
admits she possessed a controlled substance on federal
property and is now suffering the consequences of getting
caught. She does not say why she seeks expungement of her
criminal record (see doc. 8), but the Court can
imagine any number of real-world consequences that may flow
from having a record even after completing the terms of her
probation. Though any adverse consequences to her life and
aspirations resulting from her federal arrest and probation
record are unfortunate, she has not even hinted at any
“extreme circumstances” warranting expungement in
this case. See Flowers, 389 F.3d at 740
(district court abused its expunction discretion where the
movant only “fear[ed] that if her records in this
matter are not expunged, it will seriously limit her ability
to find employment in her field.”); United
States v. Schnitzer, 567 F.2d 536, 540 (2d Cir.
1977) (a rabbinical student's fear that he would be
“asked to explain the circumstances surrounding his
arrest” in his job hunt was “not harsh or
unique” because “an explanation may be expected
from those about to enter a profession [and] the harm, if
any, which may result does not fall within the narrow bounds
of the class of cases where expungement has been declared
appropriate.”). Her motion for expungement (doc. 8) is
 The civil rights struggle in Selma,
Alabama provides the prototypical example of such a
circumstance. In 1963, local law enforcement arrested black
voters as part of a campaign to limit their franchise.
See United States v. McLeod, 385 F.2d 734, 738 (5th
Cir. 1967). Years later, the federal government asked a
district court to, among other things, expunge the records of
those arrested. Id. The Fifth Circuit ultimately
complied, stating that “[i]n order to grant full relief
in this case, we must see that as far as possible the persons
who were arrested and prosecuted . . . are placed in the
position in which they would have stood had the county not
acted unlawfully.” Id. at 749.
Stevenson has not set forth any circumstances
supporting her request for expunction, much less
circumstances approaching Selma. See, e.g., United States
v. Flowers, 389 F.3d 737, 739 (7th Cir. 2004) (“It
is possible, even likely, that any person with an arrest or
conviction record may well be impeded in finding employment.
. . . [I]f employment problems resulting from a criminal
record were sufficient to outweigh the government's
interest in maintaining criminal records, ...