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Scott v. State Bar Examining Committee - 220 Conn. 812

Rule:

Fixing the qualifications for, as well as admitting persons to, the practice of law in the state of Connecticut has ever been an exercise of judicial power. This power has been exercised with the assistance of committees of the bar appointed and acting under rules of court. In addition to establishing the State Bar Examining Committee (BEC), the rules of practice provide for a standing committee on recommendations for admission in each county. Conn. Gen. Practice Book §§ 11, 19. Although these committees have a broad power of discretion, they act under the court's supervision. It is the court, and not the bar, or a committee, which takes the final and decisive action.

Facts:

Respondent Connecticut Bar Examining Committee (BEC) ruled that the petitioner applicant did not possess the present good moral character and the requisite fitness for admission to the bar. The trial court rejected its decision. Respondent filed an appeal and questioned the superior court's authority to review the BEC's denial of an applicant's admission to the bar. BEC claimed that questions of good moral character in the attorney admission process were properly delegated to the discretion of the BEC.

Issue:

Does the trial court exercise authority over the state Bar Examining Committee with respect to admitting persons in the practice of law?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court ruled that the application for admission in the practice of law is within the scope of judicial power. It also held that the BEC's hearing on an application for admission to the bar could be conducted de novo without any consideration of the standing committee's findings. The court reversed the judgment, but remanded for the BEC to hold for a new hearing because the appropriate inquiry when deciding admission to the bar was whether the applicant had present fitness to practice law, and fitness to practice law was not fixed in time.

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