Monday, March 31, 2014
the Vermont Supreme Court has held that the denial of admission to a law graduate did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The court found reasons other than mental health issues precluded a finding of present fitness
...we recognize the need for compassion and respect towards those who suffer from mental health disabilities, the vast majority of whom are able to effectively treat their symptoms and contribute productively to society. We do not take lightly the decision to deny an applicant for unfitness. Nevertheless, we hold that applicant is unable to meet his burden of proof for admission. The record evidence amply supports the findings, which in turn support the conclusion that applicant’s conduct—not his mental health history or status—demonstrates his unfitness to practice law. As outlined by the commissioner, these behaviors include: applicant’s statements—made without supporting evidence—before the Vermont Judicial Retention Committee, during oral arguments before the Maryland Court of Appeals, and before the commissioner in this case regarding a Vermont magistrate, whom he accused of lying and conspiring to prevent his admission to the bar of New Hampshire; applicant’s continued claims that he is competent to provide drug counseling to narcotics users without a license; and most especially applicant’s disturbing conduct in various forums, including this proceeding, which the commissioner was able to observe firsthand. As noted, the commissioner found that applicant’s obsession with the perceived “corruption” of the family court is “pervasive” and prevented applicant from focusing on the issues in this matter and other proceedings. The commissioner found, with reason, that applicant’s demonstrated inability to focus and to “filter his presentations” in a variety of legal forums would render his representation of clients other than himself highly problematic, and demonstrated an inability to “make proper presentations of fact and law on behalf of a client or to focus on the client’s needs in or out of court.” The commissioner also observed, again with reason, that if applicant believed he could provide drug counseling services without training or a license, his judgment in representing clients in areas outside his area of expertise and competence was highly questionable, potentially “putting his clients at financial and emotional risk.”
The applicant first sought admission in Vermont in 2004. (Mike Frisch)