Thursday, September 16, 2021

Guidance, Please: A Missed Opportunity

I was a bit disappointed to see a one-page order of the Maryland Court of Appeals admitting an applicant to practice

ORDERED, by the Court of Appeals of Maryland, a majority of the court concurring, that the favorable recommendations of the Character Committee for the Fifth Appellate Judicial Circuit and State Board of Law Examiners be, and they are hereby, accepted, and it is further

ORDERED, that the applicant be admitted to the Bar, conditioned upon satisfaction of the requirements of Maryland Rules 19-212 (Maryland Law Component) and 19-213 (Qualifying MPRE Score Required), and upon taking the oath prescribed by the statute.

I have no issue with the result.

As in my favorite lawyer movie Body Heat, the problem lies elsewhere.

I had listened to the oral argument in the matter and understood that the issues involved the applicant's history of alcoholism, behavior while drinking, and the status of his sobriety.

The court missed an opportunity to provide useful guidance to applicants concerning the standards that it applies in considering such circumstances.

This is particularly important in light of the fact that only "a majority of the court" concur in the result.

I have made the same argument about opaque admission orders in Louisiana. 

Law school is expensive and time-consuming.

While I do understand protecting the applicant's identity, a far more helpful opinion can be written without violating confidentiality. 

Courts have an obligation to provide a clear roadmap to those who struggle with addiction issues of the standards applied to their applications for admission.  (Mike Frisch)

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