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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: ArchCity Defenders Expands Series of ‘Know Your Rights’ Guides

St. Louis, Mo. – June 24, 2024

ArchCity Defenders (ACD), a holistic legal advocacy organization, announces the release of two new booklets in their ‘Know Your Rights’ or Pro Se STL series. The latest additions, A Guide for Renters Finding and Moving into Housing in Missouri and A Guide to Expunging Your Criminal Record in Missouri, expand the collection designed to empower individuals who represent themselves in court, commonly referred to as pro se litigants.

In total, the five booklets provide essential legal education and practical examples to aid individuals defending and advocating for themselves in various legal settings. ACD is distributing printed copies of each booklet at their Freedom Summer STL events, next occurring on Saturday, June 29 and Saturday, July 27. The collection of resources is also available online to view, print, and download at www.ProSeSTL.org.

“ACD’s pro se guides democratize information and ensure that more people in our region have access to justice,” said Jacki Langum, Deputy Executive Director at ACD. “The guides play an important role in providing resources to address gaps in legal representation.”

Of the two new features, A Guide for Renters Finding and Moving into Housing in Missouri equips Missouri tenants with information about their rights before and after signing a lease, and walks through fundamental steps such as locating housing, reviewing and negotiating leases, and knowing one’s rights as a renter. The guide also makes some specific recommendations such as looking up the property owner, landlord, and/or property manager in advance and documenting conditions throughout the tenancy.

The second, A Guide to Expunging Your Criminal Record in Missouri, is designed to help individuals determine their eligibility to expunge (or remove) their criminal record(s), which type of expungement process to pursue, and what documents are needed. The 30-page document cautions readers that while Missouri’s expungement laws are “not easy to follow or navigate,” it is possible for them to successfully represent themselves by following the guide’s detailed steps.

The development of these guides is a direct response to the housing and expungement-related challenges ACD observed through phone calls, community feedback, and applications for legal representation. Since 2018, ACD has produced these guides to combat systemic abuses within the criminal legal system, address the scarcity of free legal services, and meet the public’s demand for accessible legal information. The content is crafted by ACD, with contributions from local illustrators and designers, ensuring the guides are engaging and user-friendly.

ArchCity’s collection of #ProSeSTL resources includes:

  • A Guide to Knowing Your Rights With the Police and Getting Out of Jail (2018, updated in 2023)
  • A Guide to Representing Yourself in St. Louis Municipal Courts (2018, updated in 2023)
  • A Guide to Representing Yourself When Facing Eviction (2021)
  • A Guide for Renters Finding and Moving into Housing in Missouri (2024)
  • A Guide to Expunging Your Criminal Record in Missouri (2024)

“For over a decade, ACD attorneys and court watchers have routinely observed court room settings in which nine out of ten people do not have an attorney to defend them on matters that could be quickly resolved with money,” said Jacki Langum, Deputy Executive Director at ACD. “We’re talking about alleged ordinance violations like traffic tickets and eviction cases, crimes of poverty.”

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Media Contacts:

Angelo Vidal
avidal@archcitydefenders.org
(314) 488-8614

Z Gorley
zgorley@archcitydefenders.org
(314) 898-8185

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