Friday, August 30, 2013
California Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments in Case of Undocumented Immigrant Seeking a License to Practice Law
On May 16, 2012, the Supreme Court issued an order directing the Committee of Bar Examiners to show cause why the court should grant the committee's motion to admit Sergio C. Garcia to the State Bar as a licensed attorney. This question presented by the case is whether an undocumented immigrant who has graduated from law school and passed the California bar examination may be admitted to the California Bar or whether such admission is precluded by any federal statute or for any other reason.
The Committee of Bar Examiners certified his name to the Supreme Court for admission to the State Bar. The bar notified the court of Garcia’s immigration status at the time the motion was filed. The Supreme Court’s order directed the Committee of Bar Examiners and Garcia to file briefs in support of the Committee’s motion and invited others to file amicus curiae briefs in the Supreme Court. The order specifically invited amicus participation by the Attorneys General of California and the United States.
The order listed five specific questions for briefing:
1.. Does 8 U.S.C. section 1621, subdivision (c) apply and preclude this court’s admission of an undocumented immigrant to the State Bar of California? Does any other statute, regulation, or authority preclude the admission?
2. Is there any state legislation that provides — as specifically authorized by 8 U.S.C. section 1621, subdivision (d) — that undocumented immigrants are eligible for professional licenses in fields such as law, medicine, or other professions, and, if not, what significance, if any, should be given to the absence of such legislation?
3. Does the issuance of a license to practice law impliedly represent that the licensee may be legally employed as an attorney?
4. If licensed, what are the legal and public policy limitations, if any, on an undocumented immigrant’s ability to practice law?
5. What, if any, other concerns arise with a grant of this application?” Once the briefing is completed and the court has an opportunity to consider it, the court may set the case for oral argument.
Links to the briefs in the case can be found here. The following briefs, the last of which was submitted in September 2012, were filed in the case:
1. Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California’s Opening Brief on the Merits
2. Applicant’s Opening Brief on the Merits
3. Amicus Curiae Brief of California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris
4. Amicus Curiae Brief of Larry DeSha
5. Amicus Curiae Brief of Los Angeles County Bar Association, et al.
6. Amicus Curiae Brief of Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, et al.
7. Amicus Curiae Brief of La Raza Lawyers Association of Sacramento, et al.
8. Amicus Curiae Brief of Mexican American Bar Association of Los Angeles County
9. Amicus Curiae Brief of California Latino Legislative Caucus
10. Amicus Curiae Brief of National Center for Lesbian Rights, et al.
11. Amicus Curiae Brief of Michael A. Olivas, et al.
12. Amicus Curiae Brief of Sandra L. Brooks, et al.
13. Amicus Curiae Brief of American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, et al.
14.Amicus Curiae Brief of Cesar Vargas Filed on July 27, 2012
15. Amicus Curiae Brief of Dream Bar Association, et al.
16. Amicus Curiae Brief of Joseph A. Vail Center for Immigrant Rights
17. Amicus Curiae Brief of Dream Team Los Angeles, et al.
18. Amicus Curiae Brief of the United States of America
19. Amicus Curiae Brief of Nicholas Kierniesky Filed on August 16, 2012
20. Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California's Response to Amicus Curiae Brief of the United States of America
21. Applicant's Consolidated Response to Amicus Curiae Brief (Filed on September 14, 2012).
Only a couple of the amici opposed the admission of Sergio Garcia to the California bar. To the surprise of many knowledgeable observers, the U.S. government's brief contends that federal law (8 U.S.C. § 1621) per se prohibits the states from issuing a license to practice law to undocumented immigrants.
After sitting on the Garcia case for nearly a year, the California Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in the case for next Wednesday morning, September 4, 2013. Stay tuned for further details.
For analysis of the case, click here.