Saturday, April 17, 2021
The Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Board of Law Examiners to deny admission.
The applicant graduated from law school in 2002 and had been denied admission in Louisiana.
This decision was at least partially based on his lack of candor regarding his 1998 Louisiana conviction for felony carnal knowledge of a female when Bernoudy was twenty years old and the victim was sixteen years old.
He was granted a first-offender pardon and the conviction was expunged.
Admission was initially denied in Texas and later granted. He also is admitted in the District of Columbia.
A hearing on the application was held
Following the hearing, the Board issued an order denying Bernoudy’s application for admission to the Arkansas Bar. In its findings of fact, the Board noted that Bernoudy’s testimony before the panel was vague and that he could not remember many details regarding the extension of his probation and the disclosures in his Texas Bar application. In addition, although Bernoudy testified that he did not believe he was required to register as a sex offender in Texas due to his Louisiana expungement, he had indicated in pleadings filed in Texas that his requirement to register in Louisiana did not end until 2017, well after he had become a resident of Texas. The Board further noted that Bernoudy had been involved in a litany of civil actions, including one for failure to pay taxes, and that he had been disciplined on two separate occasions by the Texas Bar. In reviewing the entire record before it, including Bernoudy’s own testimony, the Board found that Bernoudy was “less than forthcoming” and that his “unlawful conduct; acts involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; proof of denial of admission to the Bar in another jurisdiction; and, other conduct that reflects adversely on the good moral character and mental and emotional stability of the applicant” were the bases for its decision to deny him admission. The Board concluded that Bernoudy had failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he was eligible for admission to the Arkansas Bar and that “given the totality of the conduct and the information presented to the Board,” Bernoudy would not contribute to the “honor and integrity” of the profession. Bernoudy appealed the Board’s decision to this court pursuant to Rule XIII(F) of the Rules Governing Admission to the Bar.
We have held that the credibility of the applicant is a question of fact for the Board and that we will not overturn this determination unless it is clearly erroneous. Partin v. Bar of Arkansas, 320 Ark. 37, 894 S.W.2d 906 (1995). In addition to Bernoudy’s lack of candor, his prior convictions, and the denial of admission in Louisiana, the Board further noted Bernoudy’s involvement in multiple civil actions, including one for failure to pay his taxes, as well as his disciplinary history in Texas. Accordingly, the Board did not err by concluding that Bernoudy was not eligible for admission to the Arkansas Bar, and we affirm.