About the East Bay Community Law Center Clean Slate Practice
The Clean Slate Practice of the East Bay Community Law Center uses strategic legal and policy tools to reduce pathways to the criminal justice system and remove barriers to employment and civic participation for people with conviction records. Clean Slate attorneys and advocates provide assistance to clients in the following areas:
- Post-Conviction Remedies (including early termination of probation, PC 1203.4 dismissals, Felony reductions including Prop 47 and Prop 64 Petitions)
- Sealing of Arrest Record—Factual Innocence
- Vacating Convictions for Survivors of Human Trafficking and Immigrants
- Employment Denials Due to Criminal Background
- Occupational Licensing Denials Due to Criminal Background (ex: DSS, Security Guard, CNA, etc.)
Decriminalization of Poverty Project (DCOPP)
- Assistance for people who have been accused of offenses involving driving
- Driver’s License Suspensions
- Reduction and Discharge of Court Fines and Fees (e.g., traffic tickets, criminal court debt)
- Reduction and Discharge of predatory municipal debt (e.g., parking tickets, towing fees)
- Defense of the Civil and Human Rights of People Experiencing Homelessness
EBCLC is a non-profit legal services organization and the community-based clinical program for Berkeley Law School. We are committed to increasing justice through education and advocacy, as well as building a culturally diverse workplace centered on equity.
With over 70 staff, 150 law students, and an $8 Million annual budget, EBCLC is the largest provider of free legal advocacy in Alameda County, providing multimodal, collaborative, and holistic legal services to over 5,000 clients yearly. EBCLC supports is ground-level legal advocacy through legislative and policy advocacy at the local and state level.
A 2016 study in California from the East Bay Community Law Center found that license suspensions for failing to pay fines or appear in court are “directly correlated with poverty indicators and with race,” with driver’s license suspension rates ranging as high as five times the state average in communities that are primarily Black or Latino.
East Bay Community Law Center celebrates victory as Alameda County Courts vote to make changes to the current Ability to Pay Determination Process that will provide more people with access to reduce their burdensome traffic court fines and fees.
The East Bay Community Law Center, or EBCLC, announced Monday that the Alameda County Superior Court will use the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “extremely low-income” standard to determine eligibility for applicants seeking reduced traffic infraction fines under the court’s Ability to Pay, or ATP, program.
Furthermore, collection agencies are not bound by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which protects consumers from various forms of threat and harassment, because court debts are considered “involuntary.” As a result of this loophole, said Miguel Soto, an attorney at the East Bay Community Law Center, “We’ve had clients tell us that the [debt collector] they’re dealing with is threatening them with violence, imprisonment, or, in some occasions, deportation.”
Monday, June 25, 2018: OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: The Superior Court of Alameda County has revised its criteria for low-income applicants seeking a fine reduction for traffic infractions, making the Court’s fine reduction program more accessible to low-income residents.
November 28, 2017: Alameda County Superior Court has recalled over 83,000 DMV Failure to Pay (FTP) driver license holds to comply with newly enacted legislation Assembly Bill 103.
Phan worked with staff attorney Theresa Zhen for months before he was finally able to get his license back, just before the passage of AB 103. “None of these things happen in a vacuum,” Zhen said. “It takes a movement of lawyers, community groups, and people who are brave enough to tell their story.”
UpFront speaks with Theresa Zhen, Staff Attorney at the Clean Slate Practice of the East Bay Community Law Center and member of the Back on the Road California Coalition, which fights for traffic court reform. She is also a co-author of Ability to Pay Implementation in Traffic Court: A Toolkit for Advocates. Theresa tells us about ways to get your traffic tickets expunged.
States have trapped millions of Americans in crippling debt by taking away their driver’s licenses. Can the damage be undone?[…]“As the amount of uncollected court debt increases and more driver’s licenses are suspended, everybody loses. The state Legislature loses, the counties lose, employers lose, our clients lose the most,” Theresa Zhen, who works at the East Bay Community Law Center in Oakland, California, told me before the state’s bill passed.