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Law School Case Brief

In re Polin - 596 A.2d 50 (D.C. 1991)

Rule:

In general, an applicant for the bar with a background of a conviction of a felony or other serious crime must carry a very heavy burden in order to establish good moral character.

Facts:

After a hearing, the Committee on Admissions recommended that applicant Steven Polin be admitted to the Bar of the District of Columbia despite his 1984 conviction for conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute it. Because of the serious nature of Polin’s criminal conduct, the instant Court ordered him to show cause why his application should not be denied, calling particular attention to the relatively short duration of his period of rehabilitation.

Issue:

Was applicant Polin able to establish that he was so fully rehabilitated that he could be deemed to have the good moral character required for admission to the bar?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The Court held that although Polin had demonstrated persuasively that he had made outstanding progress toward rehabilitation, he had failed to establish that he was so fully rehabilitated that he could be deemed to have the good moral character required for admission to the bar. Therefore, the Court denied Polin's application for admission. The Court noted that it could not set a fixed number of years of good behavior as an essential part of the proof of rehabilitation; however, the Court was not persuaded that the duration and quality of Polin’s good behavior sufficed to establish present good moral character.

Regarding a standard of review, the Court explained that it will accept findings of fact made by the Committee unless they are unsupported by substantial evidence of record. The Court stated that while it affords the Committee's recommendations some deference, the ultimate decision regarding admission or denial of admission remains for this Court to make.

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