Monday, June 20, 2022

Mental Health Question May Be Axed In Ohio

An announcement on the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court

Two proposed changes to the rules governing the process of assessing the character and fitness of candidates for admission to the practice of law in Ohio are now open for public comment.

The Supreme Court of Ohio is accepting comments until July 25 on the standards used by admission committees conducting character investigations into those who have applied to be members of the Ohio bar. The changes contain two modifications of the Supreme Court Rules for the Government of the Bard of Ohio, Rule I, Section 13.

Under Section 13(D)(3), an applicant may be approved for admission if the applicant’s record of conduct justifies the trust in clients, adversaries, courts, and others with respect to the professional duties owed to them. Admission committees consider several factors before making a recommendation about the applicant’s character, fitness, and moral qualifications.

The proposed rule amendment eliminates one of those factors: “Evidence of mental or psychological disorder that in any way affects or, if untreated, could affect the applicant’s ability to practice law in a competent and professional manner.”

The change reflects reports that  law students across the nation are not seeking mental health assistance in law school due to concerns regarding the ramification of disclosure during the character and fitness process.

The Conference of Chief Justices has passed Resolution 5, urging jurisdictions to eliminate of questions about mental health diagnosis and focus solely on conduct or behavior that calls into question the applicant’s character and fitness to practice law. The prosed rule amendment does not mean that mental or psychological disorders are never relevant to the process, just that the applicant must have engaged in conduct or behavior that calls into question the applicant’s ability.

The Court also proposes to modify Section 13(D)(6), which includes a list of factors admission committees shall not consider because they “do not directly bear on a reasonable relationship to the practice of law. The proposed list removes the factor of “sex,” and adds “gender, sexual orientation, and marital status,” to the list that includes age, race, color, national origin, and religion.

Comments on the proposed amendments should be submitted in writing no later than July 25, 2022. Comments made by mail or emailed to:

Gina Palmer, Attorney Services Division Director
Supreme Court of Ohio
65 South Front Street, 5th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215-3431
or
Gina.Palmer@sc.ohio.gov

Email submissions should include your full name and mailing address.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2022/06/mental-health-question-may-be-axed-in-ohio.html

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