Q: When is the next declaration drive?
We hold monthly declaration drives on the third Thursday of each month, any trained volunteer can sign-up. Sign up here.
You should only write one declaration per client. It is not about a specific conviction, but more about who the client is today and why their dismissal(s) (all their dismissals) should be granted.
Q: My client has multiple convictions, how many declarations should I write?
Often courts are considering their entire conviction history and considering all of their dismissals in the same hearing, you only need one statement (because they are only going to read one statement), no matter how many separate petitions we will be filing.
Q: How long should the phone call with the client last?
A strong, unique, and accurate declaration takes time to get the information with enough details to be compelling and clear. Expect the call to last about 45-60 minutes. If it takes less time, you might not have spent enough time talking with the client. If it takes more time, you might have a talker.
Q: I have a template from a strong declaration I drafted with a previous client, can I use that?
No. These declarations are signed under penalty of perjury and must be unique to the client. Do not use template language because it might not be accurate to the client, and will not be in their voice. Even template language that says, “I am remorseful for my convictions” might not be accurate, and therefore should not be used unless the client actually stated that they are remorseful (and who really uses the word “remorseful” anyways?).
Q: I see something about letters of support. What are those and where do those go?
If the client has letters of support or additional evidence of rehabilitation, please have them email it to their contact at Root & Rebound or [email protected]
You do not need to collect it. We appreciate your work on the declaration and want to provide you with a short term project: one interview and a short drafting.
Q: My client didn’t have much to say, what do I do?
This happens. An arrest or conviction can be deeply personal, or be from a long time ago, or while a person was in a situation where they can no longer remember any facts. You can pause the interview and reschedule, move to another topic and come back, or just focus on what the client is open to talking about.
The most compelling declarations do not talk much about the underlying conviction (and some don’t talk about them at all) but really focus on who the person is today, what they have overcome, and why a dismissal is so vital to achieving their goals.
Q: Why don’t the sample declarations talk more about the conviction?
The declaration is not the place to introduce evidence about the underlying offense. The court will have official records of arrests and convictions for that. The declaration’s purpose is to bring color and humanity to the petition, and to remind the judge that they are deciding how long the collateral consequences of a conviction should continue to follow this petitioner. The judge is weighing “the interest of justice” which can mean a million different things, but needs a compelling narrative about who the petitioner is and why they deserve this dismissal.