Scott v. State Bar Examining Committee
In Scott v. State Bar Examining Committee, 220 Conn. 812, 823, 601 A.2d 1021 (1992), the petitioner's drug use from 1977 to 1985 resulted in numerous arrests and three convictions for possession of marijuana and controlled substances. Scott v. State Bar Examining Committee, 220 Conn. at 814. In 1987, following graduation from law school, the petitioner took and passed the Connecticut bar examination. Id., at 815.
The bar examining committee held a fact-finding hearing concerning the petitioner's qualifications for admission to the bar; the specific area of inquiry was the petitioner's criminal record. Id. Following the hearing, the executive committee of the bar examining committee voted to deny the petitioner admission to the bar. Id.
The petitioner then sought review in the Superior Court, which rendered judgment ordering the petitioner admitted to the bar after concluding that the committee "could not fairly and reasonably have reached the conclusion that it did." Id., at 814.
On appeal, our Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Superior Court, concluding that the "record . . . supported the respondent's findings about the petitioner's lack of credibility and candor, and, consequently, his moral character and fitness to practice law . . . . " Id., at 826.
The court in Scott later stated: "While concluding that the trial court acted improperly in rejecting the respondent's findings, we recognize that the appropriate inquiry when deciding whether to grant admission to the bar is whether the applicant has present fitness to practice law. . . . . Fitness to practice law does not remain fixed in time. While the respondent found the petitioner unfit to practice law in 1989, it might not reach that conclusion today. Thus, the trial court should remand the petitioner's application to the respondent for a new hearing to review any additional relevant evidence submitted by the petitioner concerning his present fitness to practice law." Id., at 829.
In Scott, the bar examining committee was concerned with the petitioner's prior criminal record and his explanations of his prior criminal record. In that case, counsel for the respondent agreed, under the circumstances of that case, that a remand for a new hearing concerning the petitioner's rehabilitation would be appropriate. Id., at 829 n.13.
The Court affirmed that fixing qualifications and admitting persons to the bar is an exercise of judicial power, commenting, however, that "this power has been exercised with the assistance of committees of the bar appointed and acting under rules of court."
The court continued, stating that "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." Id.
In Scott, the Supreme Court, in reversing the judgment of the trial court, held that the trial court should not have substituted its assessment of the applicant's credibility and candor before the committee for that of the committee. Scott v. State Bar Examining Committee, supra, 220 Conn. at 825-26.
The Supreme Court, in an exercise of its judicial responsibilities, ordered the trial court to remand the petitioner's application to the committee "for a new hearing to review any additional relevant evidence submitted by the petitioner concerning his present fitness to practice law." Id., at 829.