April 23, 2010
Admission Denied For Domestic Violence
The Nebraska Supreme Court has denied the application for admission of a 2008 graduate of the University of Nebraska Law School. The State Bar Commission had recommended denial of the application.
The applicant had been a police officer prior to attending law school. He had an intimate relationship with a woman who twice filed for but was denied a protection order against him. He later arrested her for driving under the influence. She claimed he had waited in his car outside a bar she was in in order to follow her. She also said that he used his authority to intimidate her. He claimed he pulled her over without knowing it was her. His sergeant backed up her story and noted prior complaints against him for hanging around the bar in question, which was not his assigned beat. He also appeared as the witness against her at a license revocation proceeding, demonstrating what the presiding officer in that case called "horrendous judgment."
There were other charges of sexual assault involving other women. In one instance, he was acquitted by a jury of third degree sexual assault. Another victim was an attorney with the county attorneys office, who sought a protection order that was granted for one year. A fourth victim (who was a law school classmate) was granted a domestic abuse protection order.
The court concluded:
[The applicant's] behavior demonstrates a pattern of abhorrent behavior towards women. Three women in the past 9 years have sought protection orders against him. He has not admitted that his behavior is inappropriate and has not demonstrated any remorse. The Commission was correct in determining that [he] does not meet the standards of character required for admission to the bar and that he should not be allowed to take the state bar examination.
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As an ordinary person and --what I assume was based on a preponderance standard-- I agree with the outcome of this case (the denial of petitioner's application for bar admission). However, from a purely legal scholarship perspective, I am troubled that the Bar Examiners' based their decision, in large part, on charges that had been dismissed, denied, or for which petitioner was acquitted. Although there seems to be little (or no) doubt that petitioner's behavior was part of a pattern, and that such behavior should disqualify petitioner for bar admission, the discretion to deny admission based on unproved allegations is worrisome. Again, I agree with the outcome, but wish it could have been achieved by a less [seemingly] unreliable means.
Posted by: Sean L. Harrington | Apr 30, 2010 2:33:03 PM