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Law grad, an ex-felon, gets her civil rights restored in hopes of getting a law license

Posted Jun 27, 2013 10:51 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A single mom and law graduate has been unable to take the Florida bar exam because of a 15-year-old felony drug conviction.

Since serving a seven-month sentence, Jessica Chiappone of Boca Raton has worked to turn her life around, the Miami Herald reports. She achieved an important milestone on Wednesday when the state’s Board of Clemency restored her civil rights, a move that allows her to take the exam.

Chiappone acknowledges she still faces “a huge uphill battle” in her quest for a law license. “It’s a step in the right direction,” she told the newspaper after her civil rights were restored.

Orlando Weekly covered Chiappone's battle to win restoration of civil rights in August 2011, the same year she graduated from law school. At that time, she had been waiting more than three years for restoration.

Chiappone is a graduate of Nova Southeastern’s law school, which profiled her when she was a 3L. At the time, she was working as a legal intern in a guardian ad litem program and hoped to become a public defender. The profile says her mother left the family when she was 12, she was in an abusive relationship, she got into trouble with the law, and she dropped out of high school. She is the first person in her family to go to college.

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