Higbee & Associates won a major appeals case and creates the first case law addressing an important section of California’s Penal Code that has gone unaddressed since being added in 1972. California’s Second District Appeals court agreed with attorneys Mathew Higbee and Melissa Clark in a published, unanimous opinion that will provide useful guidance to district courts who often struggle with the interest of justice standard of California’s expungement statute, Penal Code section 1203.4.


The Attorney General argued that the district court’s analysis of an applicants conduct should not extend beyond the date they completed probation. The Attorney General also argued that the principle of res judicata, which precludes a person from asking a court to reconsider an issue that was already decided, should apply to applications for expungement under Penal Code section 1203.4.


Higbee and Associates attorneys Melissa A. Clark and Mathew Higbee argued that the plain language of the statute, underlying policy principles and legislative history shows that a court’s interest of justice analysis can and should extend beyond the probationary period. They also argued that res judicata should not apply in criminal cases where the standard was interest of justice.


The Appeals Court agreed with Clark and Higbee and put forth their reasons in case law that will help district courts, attorneys and petitioners who have long struggled with the undefined portion of Penal Code section 1203.4.