Friday, January 27, 2023
Chin on National Federal Criminal Bar Admission
Gabriel "Jack" Chin (University of California, Davis - School of Law) has posted Toward National Criminal Bar Admission in U.S. District Courts (Fordham Law Review, Vol. 89, No. 4, 1111 2021) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This essay proposes that attorneys admitted to any state bar and any U.S. District Court, should be allowed to practice criminal law in all districts in the country. U.S. District Courts control admission to practice in various ways. Roughly, some require admission to the bar of any state, while others require admission to practice in the state where the district is located. The latter approach is difficult to justify. Unlike civil practice, federal criminal practice involves application of textually identical bodies of law which are supposed to be allied uniformly across the United States: The U.S. Code, U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and Federal Rules of Evidence. In the criminal context, there is almost no connection to the law of the state where the federal court happens to be located. There is also a serious access to justice issue created by limiting criminal practice to those admitted to the bar of the state. Lawyers for the United States can generally practice if admitted to any state bar, so only defenders are limited by the requirement. Affluent defendants can readily pay for local counsel if necessary, and so are not deprived of the assistance of counsel of their choice by this bar admission rule. Primarily, then, it is less affluent clients who are harmed by such a rule. The strong public interest in equal access to justice and economical provision of defense services suggests that there should be some justification for denial of counsel of choice. There does not seem to be such a justification in this context.