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SAN JOSE � Dorsey Nunn spent more than a decade behind bars for his involvement in a fatal bank robbery. He was 31 when he got out more than a decade ago, but he quickly discovered his prison record wasn’t going to be easy to shake � especially when it came to job applications. It took Nunn several months to find stable work after he was paroled from San Quentin State Prison. The East Palo Alto resident can still remember how he would bristle every time he was asked about his criminal record. Nunn eventually helped form “All of Us or None,” a group of “formerly incarcerated people” seeking to start a new life despite their criminal past. Working with the Bay Area legal community, the group has two interests: to help former prisoners expunge their records and to ban questions about their criminal backgrounds from city and county employment forms across the state. “We think of it as our civil rights movement,” Nunn said during a recent telephone interview. Over the past year, dozens of local attorneys have volunteered their services to help hundreds of former prisoners clear their rap sheets and start a new life. “To continue to shame [former prisoners by not allowing them to work] � does nobody any good,” said Margaret Richardson, an attorney with the East Bay Community Law Center. “There has been such a huge outpouring from the private bar and from a lot of civil attorneys, too.” During weekend summits held throughout the year, attorneys who are given two hours of training review court documents and help parolees fill out legal paperwork to expunge their criminal records. “It’s a terrific program � a real win-win-win for everyone,” said Kathi Pugh, the pro bono program counsel for Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco. Almost two dozen lawyers from the firm have attended the expungement summits. “It’s absolutely worth it,” added Mark Parnes, of counsel with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, which has sent about 10 attorneys. “It educated [lawyers] about the expungement process.” These summits have garnered so much attention that even Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s office has taken notice. An AG spokesman said Lockyer is committed to efforts that help people reintegrate back into society, but his focus is much narrower than what’s being proposed by All of Us or None. Currently, Lockyer’s main drive includes helping former prisoners clear their records and pay fees as a result of their convictions, the spokesman said. “I think there is a statewide interest in this,” Richardson said, adding that she sees Nunn’s “grassroots movement” as a “sea change.” Only certain crimes, ones not involving state or federal prison time, can be expunged from a person’s public record. If parolees do not have other pending charges and have not been arrested during their probation, they are eligible to clear their rap sheet and don’t legally have to disclose their criminal past to employers. Still, some wonder if Nunn’s ultimate goal � a nondisclosure resolution for all county and city job applications in the state � is too ambitious. A version of All of Us or None’s resolution was green-lighted by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. The resolution doesn’t prohibit city and county managers from asking about prior convictions, but it will ban the question from appearing on initial job applications. “I can’t tell you how happy I am right now; I am relived,” said Linda Evans, who co-founded All of Us or None with Dorsey three years ago. Evans knows first-hand what it’s like to be given a second chance. She spent 16 years locked away after being convicted on federal conspiracy charges. She was granted clemency by President Clinton in 2001. “People just coming out of prison just want a chance,” she said. “They aren’t going to jeopardize that.” But as Danielle Jones, a supervising attorney with the Stanford Community Law Clinic, pointed out, “San Francisco is a progressive city.” Had the resolution been floated in, for example, San Mateo or Santa Clara counties, Jones said, she is not so sure how well it would have fared. Cities and counties could open themselves up to liability issues if all applicants were allowed to hide their criminal pasts, a position that All of Us or None discredits. “I think this thing about liability is just a mask for fear,” Evans said. “We feel it is really irrelevant what a person’s past is if they are able to do their job.” Evans said the group considered pushing a statewide initiative, but felt that the “stigma” for such a cause is “so huge, we wouldn’t have a chance” of being successful. So instead, activists plan to win the state over piecemeal. “We are not large enough right now to fight the private sector,” Nunn added. Evans said the group has already received initial support from East Palo Alto and Berkeley, but no steps have been taken to introduce resolutions similar to San Francisco’s. And in the coming weeks, another expungement summit will be held in San Bernardino. Other counties “may be too conservative to consider it, but � just because they don’t consider it, doesn’t mean that we” will stop trying, Nunn said. In the meantime, Richardson, who has been instrumental in setting up summits in the East Bay, said she hopes more state agencies � such as the Department of Motor Vehicles � will take an interest in helping former prisoners get back on their feet. Of course, Richardson added with a small chuckle, “DMV won’t waive parking fees for homeless people,” so why would it help ex-cons clear their records?

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