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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
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California Bar Admission Rule Averts Challenge

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - California's requirement that attorneys from other states take the state bar exam is not unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Donald Malloy addressed the issue of easing sister-state bar admissions rules in a pair of decisions last week.

Joseph Giannini represents the attorneys in the first case, led by Tanesha Walls Blye, who have not passed the California Bar Attorneys' Examination.

The ruling notes that Giannini has been a plaintiff or attorney "in a number of futile challenges" to the state bar regulations, dating back to 1987, after he failed the same exam.

In the 1999 prefiling order Paciulan v. George, the Northern District of California enjoined Giannini from continuing his crusade for a rule change without first applying to the court for leave to file.

The order forbade Giannini from filing frivolous lawsuits and relitigating previously settled claims. It also required that he conduct a "reasonable investigation of the facts," and attach the order to any new filings challenging the bar admissions rules.

If he failed to meet the requirements of the order, the court reserved the right to hold him in contempt of court.

Giannini mostly failed to clear that first hurdle, leading Malloy to toss the second amended complaint against the state court system Tuesday.

Though Giannini had not initially appeared in the case at issue as either a party or an attorney, Molloy found Tuesday that the lawyer was clearly "the ghost writer for almost all of the pleadings and brief" in an attempt to get around the prefiling order

Giannini's company, the National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice, had been an early plaintiff but was later removed from the complaint.

The court later granted Giannini leave to appear and represent the case, but Molloy criticized the lawyer's earlier shenanigans as a "deliberate and transparent attempt to circumvent the Paciulan pre-filing order."

That aside, the judge found that Giannini had offered little in the way of new findings to "warrant re-litigation of the claims" against the state court system.

Molloy dismissed claims against the federal courts on jurisdictional grounds, ruling that sovereign immunity shields the federal judges.

The court may yet penalize Giannini and force him to pay excess costs, attorney fees and expenses, if he continues to pursue such "meritless claims," Molloy wrote.

A summary judgment motion from the defendants is moot, the judge added, dismissing the case with prejudice.

In the latter case, Jose Garcia and other lawyers argued that a rule change would help California tackle the state's massive backlog of pending cases, including millions of pro se civil cases and hundreds of capital cases.

Molloy dismissed this Oakland case in a brief order that describes the allegations as a mirror of the Blye case Giannini litigated.

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