Robert Lee Williams had been trying for years to get his 1982 car burglary convictions expunged, and on Nov. 30 he finally had his day in court, said Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich.
Long ago, Williams, 61, had served four months at the Penal Farm for petit larceny, attempt of a felony and possession of burglary tools resulting from his attempt to break into two cars. He then successfully completed five years on probation, and for the past two decades he has worked for Memphis Light, Gas & Water.
Last week, Criminal Court Judge Paula Skahan expunged his convictions from the public record, with DA Administrative Assistant Mike Boyle providing support.
“I am ecstatic,” Williams, who last month received a pardon from Gov. Bill Haslam. “It’s been a long, long road getting here. If anyone says it can’t be done, I am proof that it can because I am here.”
Gen. Weirich said he is exactly the candidate who should benefit from the expungement law.
“After a non-violent youthful mistake, Mr. Williams has led an exemplary life, not only with his work history but also with his service to the community,” said Gen. Weirich. “We congratulate him and wish him the very best.”
Williams is a U.S. Army veteran, and since 2001 has been a volunteer probation officer at Juvenile Court.
“I want to help young kids avoid the mistake I made and get them on the right trail,” Williams says. “It’s part of my life’s journey to be a positive influence on these young lives. It’s my way of giving back because I am grateful for a second chance.”
The DA’s Office, along with local churches and state and local agencies, this year began an event called Restoration Saturday in which citizens can get assistance with expungements and restoration of driving privileges. Another Saturday event is planned for 2019.