July 15, 2019

Tenth Circuit: Congress Did Not Grant Authority to Expunge Records in Federal Youth Corrections Act

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Tokoph v. United States on Tuesday, December 23, 2014.

David Tokoph was sentenced in 1974 under the then-effective Federal Youth Corrections Act, which provided that for offenders sentenced to probation who met certain criteria, the court could set aside the conviction and provide the offender a certificate to that effect. In 1982, Tokoph was discharged, the sentence was set aside, and the court issued him a certificate to that effect. In 2012, Tokoph petitioned the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico to seal and expunge his records. The district court found it lacked authority to do so and denied the motion. Tokoph appealed.

The Tenth Circuit evaluated the case law on which Tokoph relied and found that his proposition was only supported by dicta, not holdings in the cases. To the contrary, the Tenth Circuit found the district court correctly followed binding circuit precedent in refusing to expunge the conviction. Tokoph also argued that Supreme Court precedent indicated authority to seal records, but the Tenth Circuit found that the indications were weak, and the binding Tenth Circuit precedent on point controlled. The Tenth Circuit also noted there is no applicable inherent equitable authority to grant expunction of a valid conviction.

The district court’s denial of Tokoph’s motion to expunge was affirmed. The Tenth Circuit reversed the order sealing the record.

HB 13-1082: Setting Parameters for Expungement of Juvenile Delinquency Records

On January 16, 2013, Rep. Jeanne Labuda introduced HB 13-1082 – Concerning Juvenile Delinquency Records. This summary is published here courtesy of the Colorado Bar Association’s e-Legislative Report.

A court that adjudicates a person a juvenile delinquent shall consider initiating expungement proceedings for the person’s records not more than 30 days after the person’s sentence is discharged.

A court that adjudicates a person an aggravated juvenile offender or a violent juvenile offender, or that adjudicates a person a juvenile delinquent for a felony offense of unlawful sexual behavior, shall consider initiating expungement proceedings for the person’s records not more than 5 years after the person’s sentence is discharged.

The bill permits a court to order a petitioner’s records expunged in cases where the petitioner has been convicted of a misdemeanor since the termination of the court’s jurisdiction or the petitioner’s unconditional release from parole supervision.

Under current law, the public has access to arrest and criminal records information, including a physical description, that concerns a juvenile who is adjudicated a juvenile delinquent or is subject to a revocation of probation for:

  • Committing the crime of possession of a handgun by a juvenile;
  • Committing an act that would constitute a class 1, 2, 3, or 4 felony; or
  • Committing an act that would constitute any crime that involves the use or possession of a weapon if such act were committed by an adult.

The bill limits the public’s access to include only arrest and criminal records information, including a physical description, that concerns a juvenile who is adjudicated a juvenile delinquent or is subject to a revocation of probation for:

  • Committing the crime of possession of a handgun by a juvenile; or
  • Committing an act that would constitute a class 1 felony.

The bill is assigned to the Judiciary Committee.