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Sealing and Expungement Laws: New York and Beyond


Speaker(s): Emma Goodman, Evonne Silva
Recorded on: Nov. 11, 2019
PLI Program #: 288569

Emma Goodman is an experienced criminal defense attorney at The Legal Aid Society specializing in record sealing and expungement.  She began her career working for seven years as a fully certified trial attorney in the Manhattan office before moving to the Special Litigation Unit in 2017.

During her time as a trial lawyer, Emma witnessed firsthand the injustices of the criminal system and the collateral consequences suffered by people with criminal records. When New York's criminal record sealing law went in to effect in October 2017, Emma founded Case Closed, an initiative aimed at raising awareness about the law, helping people seal their criminal records, and advocating for broader and better record clearance laws in New York and beyond. 

Since creating Case Closed, Emma has represented more clients and won more sealing applications than any attorney in the state. Her initiative has been deeply committed to community-centered advocacy, and Emma has spoken at events and educational programs all over the city to spread information and advice. She has also acted as a public face for the program, speaking at national conferences, writing op-eds, appearing on the radio and television and working with the local and national press from publications including The New York Times, The Daily News, The Wall Street Journal and El Diario. 

In addition, Emma has been a leading advocate for sealing expansion at the local and state legislative level and has worked independently and with other agencies to engage in affirmative litigation to push for positive change around record clearance and reentry issues. She is also closely involved in efforts to fully legalize marijuana and is a key legal resource on New York's 2019 marijuana decriminalization and automatic expungement law.

Emma believes that your past should not define your future. Better record clearance laws can make that a reality.


Evonne is the Senior Program Director of Criminal Justice and Workforce Development, where she leads a team that develops civic technology aimed at transforming the criminal justice and workforce development systems. Most recently, Evonne held leadership positions with the ACLU of Northern California, as a legal advisor, building and leading teams, driving process improvement and systems changes, and managing complex, collaborative projects. She has successfully designed and led policy advocacy campaigns across a range of issues with cross-sector stakeholders at several nonprofit advocacy and legal organizations. 

Evonne is a licensed attorney who holds a Juris Doctorate from UCLA School of Law and a bachelor’s degree in politics and economics from Saint Mary’s College of California. She also serves as board member of CORO of Northern California and teaches legal ethics at U.C. Berkeley School of Law.