State Bar Had Discretion To Reject Law Applicant

     CINCINNATI (CN) – The 6th Circuit rejected the constitutional claims of a would-be lawyer whose application for a law license was denied after he voiced his disdain for the Michigan court system.

     Frank J. Lawrence Jr. had a testy relationship with Michigan state bar officials from the beginning. He withdrew his original application to practice law in 2001 and unsuccessfully sued the state bar to have its rules declared unconstitutional.
     When he applied for a law license again in 2005, Lawrence said in his interview that he had little respect for the Michigan court system and that the courts failed to protect citizens’ constitutional rights.
     Predictably, Lawrence’s application was denied. The state bar committee stated that Lawrence lacked the “good character and fitness to be recommended for the practice of law in this state.”
     Lawrence sued, claiming a violation of his First and 14th Amendment rights.
     Judge Bertelsman ruled that Lawrence’s claims are barred as a direct attack on the state court decision.
     The state court has absolute immunity in determining an applicant’s fitness and character, the appellate court ruled, so the federal court lacks jurisdiction.

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