I ran for office in 2012, as a Republican in Arizona’s third most liberal county. While I lost, I got the highest vote percentage of any Republican in my county.
One thing that shocked me was the huge number of people who had lost their right to vote due to the conviction of felonies, especially on the Reservation. These people were usually covered in shame when I asked them to vote for me and they told me that they couldn’t vote as a felon. Most of them had been drinking when they were arrested, and many of them had pretty healthy periods of sobriety.
I asked them why they hadn’t had their convictions set aside and their rights restored. They would respond that they didn’t have the $1,500.00 to hire an attorney. That didn’t make sense to me, what is involved is writing up a quick petition and filing it with the Court.
After the election, I created the Arizona Rights Restoration Foundation, and I have filed dozens of petitions in the last five years. We only seek to have convictions be set aside and for rights to be restored, but not for the restoration of gun rights. (Note: Even if convictions have been set aside, those convictions can be used by the state in future criminal prosecutions.) We don’t file for the restoration of a defendant’s gun rights, as my co-founder is a progressive Democrat who is now Flagstaff’s mayor.
The Arizona Rights Restoration Foundation does not charge for my attorney’s fees. This is a public service that I do. I have been greatly blessed in my life. To those who have received much, much is required.
The cost of criminal prosecution and probation is high. Incarceration is very expensive. If someone can get clean and sober, then that saves the public a huge amount of money.
I just saw another client today. With her permission I am repeating the redacted allegations of her petition.
COMES NOW the Defendant ___, by and through her attorney undersigned, who requests the Court to enter an order restoring her civil rights, other than the right to bear arms, pursuant to A.R.S. §13-909 and §13-911, and to set aside his/her conviction.
- The Defendant’s mailing address is: ___.
- The Defendant was convicted on or about ___.
- The crime for which the Defendant was convicted was Attempted Aggravated Assault Domestic Violence.
- The sentencing for this crime was or about ___.
- The Defendant was convicted of this crime in the Coconino County Superior Court.
- The Judge who sentenced the Defendant was the Honorable ___.
- There is other information I would like the Court to know.
- I began drinking when I was thirteen years old. I now have over one year of sobriety. My sobriety date is July 12, 2016.
- The incident in this case occurred when I was under the influence of alcohol. All of the criminal charges that I have been convicted of have been when I was under the influence of alcohol.
- I have successfully completed the nine month “Matrix” program at The Guidance Center.
- I have been placed on medication for PTSD and anxiety, which I have been fully compliant with. I realize now that when I was drinking, I was self-medicating.
- I lost my left eye in 2015 when I was assaulted by my ten-year paramour. This was another example of the consequences I have suffered due to the use of alcohol.
- I have successfully completed Intensive Probation in this case and then Probation. Once I became clean and sober, I have been fully compliant with the requirements of Intensive Probation and Probation. I met with Attorney Gary E. Robbins back on November 29, 2016 and he indicated that as long as I was on probation, I couldn’t apply to have my conviction be set aside. I have worked hard in the last 17 months to be fully compliant so that I could make my application to have my conviction be set aside.
- My criminal convictions have made it very difficult for me to obtain employment. I was referred to Mr. Robbins by Vocational Rehabilitation.
- I am asking that the Court set aside this conviction, and restore my civil rights. I have another felony conviction in CR ___ and I am filing a petition in that case. I realize that I have a long way to go, but as long as I stay sober, I believe that I will be able to live a successful and productive life.
- I realize that even if my conviction is set aside, if I am convicted of a crime in the future, this conviction can be considered by the Court.
I believe that the Holy Spirit sends people to us, and that we meet by divine appointment. It was a pleasure to help my client today.
A few of these people will register to vote. They will likely vote Democratic. Such is life. However, more important to our community is that they be welcomed fully back into the community so that they can also be called to jury duty and be recognized as full citizens. They are our brothers and sisters, and we have a duty towards them.