Board of Law Examiners v. Gabriel
In Board of Law Examiners v. Gabriel, 953 S.W.2d 227, 40 Tex. Sup. Ct. J. 898 (Tex. 1997), the issue was whether the Board of Law Examiners was authorized by the Rules of Disciplinary Procedure to investigate the moral character and the mental and emotional fitness to practice law of a person petitioning for reinstatement to membership in the State Bar of Texas. Gabriel, 953 S.W.2d at 227.
The court held the Board of Law Examiners was not authorized to make the investigation because a trial court had already made the same determination in ruling on the petition for reinstatement. Gabriel, 953 S.W.2d at 227, 230.
The court described the two "core findings" a trial court must make in determining a petition for reinstatement.
First, the trial court must find that "'petitioner is of good moral character, possesses the mental and emotional fitness to practice law, and during the five years immediately preceding the filing of the petition, has been living a life of exemplary conduct.'" Gabriel, 953 S.W.2d at 229-30 (quoting TEX. R. DISCIPLINARY P. 11.02.E).
Second, the district court must find "that reinstatement serves the public's and profession's interests and the ends of justice." Gabriel, 953 S.W.2d at 230.
The Board of Law Examiners would have been determining precisely the same issue, that is, the applicant's moral character and fitness. See Gabriel, 953 S.W.2d at 229.
Therefore, the Board of Law Examiners was not permitted under the Rules of Disciplinary Procedure to redetermine "issues that courts have just tried." Gabriel, 953 S.W.2d at 230.