United States District Court, District of Columbia
COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before this Court is pro se Defendant Rene
Lillicotch's  March 20, 2019 Letter to the Court
requesting an expungement of his conviction, which is
considered by this Court as a Motion to Expunge Criminal
Record (“Def.'s Mot.”); the United
States'  Opposition to Defendant's Motion
(“Govt. Opp'n”); and Defendant's 
April 26, 2019 Letter to the Court, which is considered as
Defendant's Reply (“Def.'s Reply”) to the
United States' Opposition. Defendant Rene Lillicotch
(“Defendant” or “Mr. Lillicotch”)
indicates that he is moving to Florida to care for family and
will be looking for employment so that he can support his
wife, but he has been unable to “[get] through the[ ]
felony conviction requirements phase” even though he
had not engaged in any criminal conduct since his plea was
taken in 2008 by this Court. Def.'s Mot., ECF No. 28, at
1. Mr. Lillicotch requests that this Court expunge his
criminal record, and as grounds therefore, he notes: (1) his
cooperation with law enforcement during the investigation
that resulted in his conviction; (2) his exemplary
performance while on probation, which resulted in early
termination of probation; and (3) his vow to “live by
the mind[s]et that [he] will be one of the most trusted and
law[-]abiding citizens in the United States.”
Id. Upon review of relevant legal authorities and
the pleadings made by the parties, the Court shall DENY Mr.
to Expunge Criminal Record.
Lillicotch was charged by an information filed in this Court
on June 29, 2007, with one count of Conspiracy to Defraud the
United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.
See Information, ECF No. 1. On July 25, 2007, Mr.
Lillicotch entered a guilty plea, and as part of his plea
agreement, he agreed to cooperate in the investigation of
other individuals and to pay restitution, jointly and
severally, with his co-conspirators. See Plea
Agreement, ECF No. 4, at 2-3. In exchange, the Government
consented to Defendant's release pending sentencing, did
not oppose Defendant's request for a downward departure
in the Sentencing Guidelines, and requested a sentence at the
low end of the Guideline range. See Id. at 4. On
August 7, 2008, Mr. Lillicotch was sentenced to term of sixty
months of probation, with sixty days of imprisonment to be
served on weekends during the first three months of
probation, and he was ordered to pay $84, 433.00 in
restitution. See Judgment, ECF No. 18. Mr.
Lillicotch's supervised probation period was terminated
early, in September 2012, pursuant to a recommendation by the
Probation Office in which this Court concurred. Mr.
Lillicotch now moves to expunge his criminal record.
Defendant's Motion to Expunge Criminal Record comes
approximately seven years after the termination of his
probation, and it is opposed by the Government.
power to order expungement is part of the general power of
the federal courts to fashion appropriate remedies to protect
important legal rights.” United States v.
Archer, Criminal No. 07-0029, 2012 WL 5818244, at *1
(D.D.C. Nov. 13, 2012) (quoting Doe v. Webster, 606
F.2d 1226, 1231 n.8, (D.C. Cir. 1979)); see Chastain v.
Kelley, 510 F.2d 1232, 1235 (D.C. Cir. 1975) (federal
courts have the power to order the expungement of government
records, such as criminal records, “where necessary to
vindicate rights secured by the Constitution or by
statute.”) “Before expunging a criminal record,
the Court must find, after examining the particular facts and
circumstances of the case, the ‘remedy is necessary and
appropriate in order to preserve basic legal
rights.'” United States v. Davis, No. CR.
342-72, 2006 WL 1409761, at *2 (D.D.C. May 23, 2006) (quoting
Livingston v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 759 F.2d
74, 78 (D.C. Cir. 1985)).
court may order expungement where it is required or
authorized by statute, or in the exercise of its inherent
equitable powers.” Archer, supra. at
*1 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see
United States v. Derouen, 279 F.Supp.3d 298, 299 (D.D.C.
2018) (same); see also Livingston, supra.
(observing that “courts have the inherent, equitable
power to expunge arrest records”) (citations omitted).
There is however “no ‘standalone right to
expungement of government records' [ ] recognized in this
Circuit.” United States v. Douglas, 282
F.Supp.3d 275, 278 (D.D.C. 2017) (quoting Abdelfattah v.
U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., 787 F.3d 524, 536 (D.C.
Cir. 2015)). When the court exercises its inherent equitable
power to order expungement it requires “either a lack
of probable cause coupled with specific circumstances,
flagrant violations of the Constitution, or other unusual and
extraordinary circumstances.” Doe, 606 F.2d at
1230; see e.g., United States v. Blackwell, 45
F.Supp.3d 123, 124 (D.D.C. 2014) (“Absent a statutory
basis authorizing expungement, courts have granted motions to
expunge only in extreme circumstances, such as in cases
involving flagrant constitutional violations.”)
instant case, Defendant cites no specific statutory
authority; he does not contend his arrest and indictment were
improper, nor does he plead unusual or extraordinary
circumstances justifying expungement. Rather, Mr. Lillicotch
seeks expungement of his indictment because he seeks to move
to Florida to care for family and obtain employment so that
he can support his wife, but his proffered interest does not
warrant the remedy of expungement. See, e.g., United
States v. Douglas, 282 F.Supp.3d 275, 278
(D.D.C. 2017) (“Merely citing to the fact that a
criminal record may foreclose or present difficulties in
finding employment opportunities does not meet the
fundamental prerequisite of setting out a legally cognizable
claim to vindicate rights secured by the Constitution or by
statute, for which claim expungement may be appropriate
relief.”); United States v. Robinson, 23
F.Supp.3d 15, 16 (D.D.C. 2014) (“[E]ven difficulties
obtaining employment and securing housing are not regarded as
extreme circumstances” justifying expungement.)
Accordingly, the Court lacks the power to expunge Mr.
Lillicotch's criminal record under these circumstances.
Circuit, when assessing whether to invoke the Court's
inherent authority to grant a motion for expungement of an
arrest record, the Court considers whether “serious
governmental misbehavior leading to the arrest, or unusually
substantial harm to the defendant not in any way attributable
to him, outweighs the government's need for a record of
the arrest.” Davis, 2006 WL 1409761, at *2
(citations omitted). This Circuit is clear that the
Government has a “legitimate need in maintaining
criminal records in order to efficiently conduct future
criminal investigations.” Doe, 606 F.2d at
1243. “Retaining and preserving arrest records serve[s]
an important function of promoting effective law
enforcement” and serves the “compelling public
need for an effective and workable criminal identification
procedure.” United States v. Schnitzer, 567
F.2d 536, 539 (2d Cir. 1977) (quotation omitted); see
also United States v. Woods, 313 F.Supp.3d 197, 200
(D.D.C. 2018) (“The government has both the statutory
authority to maintain criminal records and a demonstrated
need to do so in order to conduct future criminal
investigations efficiently.”) Retaining criminal
records “aids in effective law enforcement” and
maintaining records of convictions “helps preserve
uniform sentencing under the United States Sentencing
Guidelines” because the sentencing ranges rely in part
on a defendant's past criminal history. United States
v. Salleh, 863 F.Supp. 283, 284 (E.D. Va. 1994). As a
result, expungements of criminal records are rare, without
authorizing statute or extraordinary circumstances.
“[R]elief usually is granted only in extreme
circumstances, the finding of which requires a balancing of
the equities between the right of privacy of the individual
and the right of law enforcement officers to perform their
necessary duties.” Davis, 2006 WL 1409761, at
*2 (internal quotation marks and quotation omitted).
Lillicotch notes his conviction and the subsequent barriers
to obtaining gainful employment that stem from that
conviction. The Court acknowledges the difficulties
experienced by a defendant as a direct and collateral result
of having a felony conviction. That said, Mr. Lillicotch does
not present statutory authority in support of his expungement
request, nor does he contend his arrest was improper, or
demonstrate any extraordinary circumstances that would
warrant expungement when balanced against the government
interest in preserving criminal records. The circumstances
expressed by Defendant are not unique to him, but instead,
they are the circumstances facing every defendant with a
criminal record and as such, they fail to “rise to the
level of the exceptional circumstances necessary to justify
this Court's exercise of its equitable power to expunge
records of a valid arrest and conviction absent a showing of
some violation of rights.” United States v.
Wilson, 98-mj-0558, 2008 WL 2446134, at *1 (D.D.C. June
the Court commends Mr. Lillicotch in his efforts since his
sentencing, the Court finds that Defendant's inability to
obtain employment on its own is insufficient to justify
expungement of his criminal record. This Circuit has
consistently ruled that when weighed against governmental
interests in preserving a criminal record, the adverse
effects of a defendant's conviction on his employment
prospects are insufficient to warrant expungement, absent
flagrant constitutional violations. See, e.g.,
Derouen, 279 F.Supp.3d at 300; United States v.
Woods, 313 F.Supp.3d 197, 200 (D.D.C. 2018)
(“Inability to obtain specific employment is neither an
exceptional circumstance nor an unusual result of a criminal
conviction.”); United States v. Spinner, 72
F.Supp.3d 266, 269 (D.D.C. 2014) (holding that the inability
to obtain employment does not warrant the remedy of
expungement of a criminal record); United States v.
Baccous, Criminal Action No. 99-0596, 2013 WL
1707961, at *2 (D.D.C. April 22, 2013) (noting that even
where the defendant's concerns about his employment and
residential opportunities were valid, there was a lack of
“extreme circumstances” and expungement of his
criminal record was unwarranted); In re Reid, 569
F.Supp.2d 220, 222 (D.D.C. 2008) ...