Legal Ethics

Top Calif court skeptical about undocumented law grad's right to be licensed to practice

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Justices of California’s top court were skeptical Wednesday during oral arguments about an undocumented resident’s claimed right to be admitted to the state bar despite his immigration status.

The state bar and state attorney general are backing Sergio Garcia’s effort to become a licensed lawyer, since he has passed the bar exam and has no criminal background. However, the federal government contends that a 1996 law, which says illegal immigrants can’t get “professional licenses” issued by government agencies or via the use of public funds, makes it impossible for him to succeed in his quest, recounts the Associated Press.

At least four of the seven state supreme court judges in court today expressed misgivings. Among them, Justice Goodwin Liu said, during questioning of lawyers in the case, that it was “commonsensical” to assume Congress intended law licenses to be governed by the federal statute.

Similar cases have been playing out in Florida and New York.

See also:

ABA Journal: “The Dream Bar: Some Children Illegally Living in the United States Grow Up to Want to Be Attorneys” “Should Public Policy Favor Inclusion When It Comes to Bar Admissions?” “Calif. AG Supports Illegal Immigrant’s Quest for Law License” “DOJ Says Federal Law Bans Top Calif. Court from Admitting ‘Unlawfully Present Alien’ to State Bar”

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