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Law School Case Brief

Kwasnik v. State Bar - 50 Cal. 3d 1061, 269 Cal. Rptr. 749, 791 P.2d 319 (1990)

Rule:

Good moral character has traditionally been defined in California as the absence of proven conduct or acts which have been historically considered as manifestations of moral turpitude. Good moral character also is defined statutorily to include qualities of honesty, fairness, candor, trustworthiness, observance of fiduciary responsibility, observance of the laws of the state and the nation and respect for the rights of others and for the judicial process. Rules Regulating Admission to Practice Law in California.

Facts:

Petitioner Richard E. Kwasnik challenged the refusal of the Respondent State Bar of California to certify him for admission to California bar. Respondent found that Petitioner, who was initially denied bar admission in Florida for failing to meet the standards of conduct and fitness, had continued to demonstrate a lack of good moral character under Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 6066, Cal. R. Ct. 952(c), and Rules Regulating Admission to Practice Law in California, R. I § 11, by discharging a wrongful death judgment in bankruptcy. The State Bar recommended that Petitioner not be admitted to practice law in California.

Issue:

Does the rehabilitation of the applicant attorney present a strong prima facie case that he is of sufficiently good moral character to be admitted to the practice of law in California?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

In its review of Petitioner's application for admission to the bar, the Supreme Court of California concluded that the applicant had presented a strong prima facie case that he was of sufficiently good moral character to be admitted to the practice of law in California.  The State Bar, on the other hand, failed to rebut either applicant's showing of rehabilitation or his prima facie case of good moral character.  This holding is consistent with the charge to protect the public and its confidence in the legal profession rather than to impose punishment. The applicant was certified as a person qualified to be admitted to the practice of law in California.

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