Back when only recent college graduates went to law school, you didn’t have to worry much about law students sneaking into law schools with extensive criminal records. How much trouble can you really get into when you were busy performing well in college, earning a useless liberal arts degree?
But in our day and age, there are enough law schools hanging around that pretty much anybody can get in. Barriers to entry are pretty much at the level where as long as you can fill out a loan application, you can get into law school. Heck, as we reported recently, convicted murderers can get into law school.
But you have to tell the truth. You can get into law school with a criminal record, but you have to tell your law school the truth about your record.
Apparently, telling the truth is a problem that some people are having….
The ABA Journal reports on two law graduates in Georgia who have been barred from sitting for the state bar:
The Georgia Supreme Court is refusing to allow two law graduates to take the state bar exam partly because they didn’t reveal their entire criminal histories on their law school applications.
In the two cases decided on Sept. 12, the supreme court refused to grant certificates of fitness to practice law to John Payne and Roy Yunker Jr., according to the Fulton County Daily Report.
Both men are older law graduates. Payne is 57 and Yunker is in his 40s. Both men also have various DUI offenses in their pasts. Apparently these offenses were not disclosed in the law school application process.
Yunker failed to disclose the offenses both to John Marshall Law School (Atlanta), where he got his J.D., and to the Georgia State Bar. That’s a somewhat obvious ding. But Payne did disclose the truth to the state of Georgia:
Payne, who is now 57, disclosed all of his criminal history to the state bar, but he didn’t tell Southern Illinois University about some of his drunken driving history. He had six DUI convictions, as well as other felony and misdemeanor convictions, spanning from his youth to his mid-40s.
Well, would Southern Illinois really have denied admission to Payne just because of his DUI convictions? I didn’t think law schools had standards when it came to that sort of thing.
Obviously, there was a little more going on with Payne than playing fast and loose with Southern Illinois:
Payne is a recovering alcoholic and has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, though he does not take medication for it, according to the opinion in his case. The court was troubled because he answered “no” to a question on the fitness application that asked whether he had any condition which, if left untreated, could affect his ability to practice law.
Wait, untreated bipolar disorder is a problem for the character and fitness people in Georgia? That must be a new thing, because I bet there are a lot of people with that who are happily practicing in Georgia and other jurisdictions across the country.