As a law student, I had plenty of opportunities to watch and listen to other law students interact with the professor, perform in moot court and other extracurricular activities during the course of law school. As went through law school, I can remember thinking to myself, "Would I hire this student to be my lawyer?" Of course it was an academic exercise for the most part because none of us at the time had the full gambit of legal training, had not yet passed the bar or been admitted to practice.
But it was a diversion to think about it anyway. I have to admit that there were one or two that I would not have hired, even if otherwise fully qualified. I presume other professions go through the same exercise, as well, such as medical students. It leaves me wondering which doctors the other doctors wouldn't hire. You've probably thought the same about others in your chosen profession.
Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court got to consider that very question for real.
Let's discuss some of the facts first, and in particular, the qualifications of a recent law school graduate. He graduated summa cum laude from Northern Arizona University. He wrote grant proposals for libraries, handicapped individuals and even volunteered time to assist prison inmates to learn to read and write, and founded a family advocacy organization. He's written various position papers, appeared on radio programs, testified in legislative hearings, and spoke at churches, schools, and civic organizations. He has appeared in a public service video encouraging children not to do drugs or join gangs. He also graduated from Arizona State University College of Law and passed the bar.
Would you hire this graduate to be your lawyer? While you might consider it given these laudatory qualifications, in the famous words of Paul Harvey, you first need to know the rest of the story.
He obtained his undergraduate degree and some of his other qualifications while he served a thirty year sentence, which was commuted to seventeen years. He graduated from law school and passed the bar while on parole. He served his time in state prison, having admitted to murdering two individuals. According to the Arizona Supreme Court's review of the facts, he shot one in the back of the head and the other while trying to escape, and then again shot the first victim to ensure he was dead.
The Court denied his application to be admitted to the bar. In addition to the Court's concerns about this violent criminal behavior, the Court also denied the application based in part on omissions on his application for admission and his failure to pay his long overdue child support of a child abandoned when he was much younger.