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Expungments

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Case:  Recipient of Final Expunction Order v. David B. Rausch, Director of TBI

Facts:  The Plaintiff in this case received and completed judicial diversion for a criminal offense. Plaintiff then obtained an Order from Circuit Court directing that all public records regarding the offense be expunged and destroyed. The TBI refused to expunge its records on the basis that certain statutes operate to forbid expungement of certain sex offenses and Sex Offender Registry records (even though there is no evidence this case was a sex offense). The trial court agreed with the TBI and denied the Plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings

Appellate Decision:  The Court of Appeals declined to accept the Plaintiff’s request for interlocutory review, so there is no intermediate decision.

Review Granted:  August 9, 2021. The Supreme Court’s Order specified the single issue presented in this appeal is: “Under what circumstances, if any, may the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation refuse to comply with a final expungement order issued by a court of record.”

Prediction:  Ben thinks the Supreme Court will hold that the TBI must adhere to the terms of the expungement order and destroy its case records, other than Sex Offender Registry records, if any. While there is statutory language suggesting the TBI should not destroy records of certain sex offenses even if there is an expungement order, the statutory framework reflects those restrictions only apply to Sex Offender Registry records. Thus, where a court has ordered destruction of non-Registry records, such as arrest and conviction information, the TBI lacks authority to ignore the court order, especially here where the State consented to the expungement order.