Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Probation Precludes Bar Admission

The Arizona Supreme Court recently denied the bar admission application of an applicant who is on felony deferred adjudication status in Texas. In 2002, while an undergraduate, he was indicted on charges of burglary and sexual assault. He pled no contest to a reduced charge of attempted sexual assault and was placed on deferred adjudication while he completes a 10 year probationary term.

Arizona has a presumption that an applicant convicted of a felony or misdemeanor serious crime should be denied admission. Clear and convincing evidence is required to rebut this presumption. The court notes that "[c]ases from across the country uniformly require individuals convicted of crimes to complete their court-ordered supervision before applying for admission or reinstatement." Here, the applicant's probationary status renders him ineligible for admission until his probation expires in November 2013.

A divided Committee on Character and Fitness had recommended admission. The court chided the committee for questioning guilt notwithstanding the criminal conviction, noting that the committee was not free to retry the case in light of the plea. (Mike Frisch)

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