Lawyers Urge Courts to Ease Bar Admissions

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – California’s requirement that attorneys from other states take a state bar exam violates the U.S. Constitution, four lawyers and two citizens claim in court.
     The attorneys filed a federal lawsuit against the California Supreme Court, the 9th Circuit Judicial Counsel, the U.S. District for the Northern District of California Court and more than two dozen judges.
     “Plaintiffs apologize to the Courts for suing them,” they wrote, but added that it was necessary to “improve the courts’ efficiency and standing in the community.”
     Lawyers Jose Garcia, Marinna Callaway, Suzy Lee and an unnamed attorney whose husband is in the military joined two Doe citizens, one of whom is facing the death penalty, in arguing that an attorney licensed in a sister state “is better than no lawyer” at all.
     They say California’s massive backlog of pending cases, including 4 million pro se civil cases and 700 capital cases, could be eased if the state relaxed its admission rules.
     In a 47-page lawsuit peppered with analogies, the lawyers urged the courts to adopt Apple’s mission to “Think Different” about “a systemic national problem that affects all lawyers travelling interstate, and all Americans who seek legal services.”
     They want the state to admit all sister-state lawyers who pass moral character clearance and who can prove they are admitted and in good standing.
     Relaxing the admission rules will neither diminish the state’s control of its admission process nor the district court’s control over its bar, they claim.
     The plaintiffs reject as “patently false” the “hypothesis that … experienced attorneys should have to take and pass another state’s bar exam in order to provide public protection,” according to the complaint.
     The rules “provide built-in headwinds and a home-field advantage for forum state attorneys,” the lawyers say.
     “Plaintiffs as members of the bar have a constitutional duty and a professional responsibility to protest the unequal treatment they have been afforded,” they add.
     They note that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that bar admission for sister-state attorneys is protected under the U.S. Constitution, and that the American Bar Association recommends that lawyers with three years of experience should not have to take another exam.
     Represented by Grant Savoy of Los Angeles, the plaintiffs seek a declaration that the California bar exam is “invalid and unconstitutional.”
     Named defendants include Chief Justice of California Tani Gorre Cantil-Sakauye, 9th Circuit Chief Justice Alex Kozinski, and Chief Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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