Clearing a Name; Man's Reversed Conviction Still Haunts Him

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Thu, April 25 2013 at 6:40 PM, Updated: Thu, April 25 2013 at 6:40 PM

Josh Brewer has struggled to pay bills and support his family. "It's been tough to find a job, can't find a job with drug convictions. They don't hire felons," said Brewer.

He's unable to find a job because the arrest record associated with drug convictions that still appear on his background checks.

Josh Brewer was convicted on medical marijuana related drug charges back in 2009. They were reversed three years later in 2012. But the charges still show up on his record.

Add to that, according to Oregon law, even if a conviction is overturned, it doesn't mean the record of the offenses are automatically wiped away.

"You have to have your fingerprints taken and you submit them to the district attorney, you have to file a motion with the court," listed off Richard Thierolf, an attorney in Medford.

A truly clean slate takes time and money "The filing fee for the court is $240 and the fingerprint fee is $80. The attorney fee can range anywhere from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars," said Thierolf.

And for someone like Josh Brewer "It costs quite a bit and he's a very poor individual. He doesn't have that kind of money...because meanwhile he's been without work," said Brewer's attorney Foster Glass.

There is nothing automatic about expungement even if you're one of the few who makes it to appellate court and is found to be not guilty, like Josh Brewer

"Perhaps the statute or the legislature that drafted the statute wasn't really thinking about a situation where a conviction was overturned on appeal," said Judge Tim Gerking at the Jackson County Circuit Court.

As for Brewer, all he knows is he's still jobless and has his wrongful conviction hanging over his record.

"What's right is right, what's wrong is wrong," Brewer said.

Now, he's fed up. He filed suit against the City of Medford, Medford Police Department, the mayor and a slew of police officers, alleging they conspired, acted intentionally or with reckless disregard when it came to his rights, and went on false information to convict him, which also resulted in his inability to find a job.

"They're going to keep doing what they're doing until somebody stands up and says enough is enough."

Brewer said he just wants what he once had: a clean record, a good job and compensation for his wrongful conviction.

Right now up in Washington state there's a push to compensate people who were wrongfully convicted by giving them $50,000 for every year they were in jail. It's expected Washington's governor will sign it into law joining 27 other states with similar laws.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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