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Law School Case Brief

Bernstein v. Comm. of Bar Exam'rs - 69 Cal. 2d 90, 70 Cal. Rptr. 106, 443 P.2d 570 (1968)

Rule:

Under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 6060 in order to qualify for certification an applicant must, among other things, "Be of good moral character." (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code, §6060(c)). Under the rule regulating admission to practice law, the burden of proving good moral character is upon the applicant. Pursuant to this rule the applicant must initially furnish enough evidence of good moral character to establish a prima facie case, and the committee then has the opportunity to rebut that showing with evidence of bad character.

Facts:

Hayes Alan Bernstein, a bar applicant, passed a bar examination for admission to practice law. Following nine hearings, a subcommittee recommended his certification. The committee of bar examiners adopted a resolution refusing to certify Bernstein on the ground that Bernstein had not shown himself to be possessed of good moral character. The bar application filed a petition for review of the decision. 

Issue:

Was the refusal of the committee of bar examiners to certify a bar applicant for admission to practice law in California on the ground that the bar applicant had not shown himself to be possessed of good moral character proper?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The court affirmed the decision and dismissed the petition because the committee of bar examiners rebutted Bernstein’s prima facie case of good moral character. The court held that evidence that Bernstein forged his former wife's name to a check showed Bernstein’s intent to defraud his former wife. The court also held that evidence relating to the bar applicant's psychological problems did not excuse or mitigate his misconduct. The court found that evidence of Bernstein’s lack of truthfulness and candor was also shown by his false statements in a verified answer in a probate proceeding, fraudulent representations in a land transaction, and false testimony regarding a gold transaction in a civil action for an accounting.

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