Brooks v. Laws, Misc. No. 310.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Citation208 F.2d 18,92 US App. DC 367
Docket NumberMisc. No. 310.
PartiesBROOKS v. LAWS et al.
Decision Date26 June 1953

92 US App. DC 367, 208 F.2d 18 (1953)

LAWS et al.

Misc. No. 310.

United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit.

Argued November 10, 1952.

Decided June 26, 1953.

Petition for Rehearing Denied December 23, 1953.

Mr. Homer Brooks, petitioner, pro se.

Asst. Atty. Gen. Holmes Baldridge pro hac vice, by special leave of Court, for respondents.

Mr. Edward H. Hickey, Atty., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., also entered an appearance for respondents.

Before STEPHENS, Chief Judge, and EDGERTON and PRETTYMAN, Circuit Judges.

PRETTYMAN, Circuit Judge.

The matter before us is a motion filed by Homer Brooks asking our leave to file in this court a complaint. In the proffered complaint he would pray for an order directed to the Chief Judge and the Associate Judges of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The order thus sought would require the District Court to accept and file a notice of appeal which Brooks sought to lodge from an "order" (actually in form a letter) alleged to have been

208 F.2d 19
entered by that court on October 11, 1951. So the matter before us is in effect a request for our permission to bring an action for mandamus.1

The facts, both procedural and substantive, as they are presented in the papers before us, are in such volume and detail as to be complicated. We treat the two kinds of facts separately.

Procedural facts. On or about March 4, 1948, Brooks filed with the District Court, for the attention of the Secretary of its Committee on Admissions and Grievances, an application for admission, upon motion, to the bar of that court. He executed and filed the questionnaire and affidavit required of an applicant. The Committee gave Brooks a hearing on April 23, 1948, and denied the application. Thereafter, on November 5, 1949, Brooks wrote the Chief Judge of the District Court a letter, asserting his right to be admitted to the bar, and on April 20, 1950, applied to the Committee for reconsideration of his application. On April 28, 1950, the Committee upon reconsideration and additional data again rejected the application. On May 24, 1950, the Chief Judge wrote Brooks that the judges of the District Court had concluded that the Committee should be sustained.

On August 30, 1951, a year and three months later, Brooks filed in the District Court a motion which sought (1) reconsideration of his application for admission, (2) consideration of new information, and (3) an order admitting him to the bar. On October 9, 1951, he filed with the District Court an application for an order granting his motion (that of August 30, 1951).

On October 11, 1951, the Chief Judge wrote Brooks that the District Judges had considered his application in executive session and that the action of the court was to sustain the Committee.

On November 2, 1951, Brooks handed to the Clerk's Office of the District Court a notice of appeal from the "order" of October 11, 1951. Thereafter one of the carbon copies of that notice was returned to him with the following notation:

"The Court being of opinion that its action in denying the application of Homer Brooks for admission to the bar was taken pursuant to its administrative powers and is not appealable, the right to file this notice of appeal is denied. Signed Bolitha J. Laws, Chief Judge."

Thereupon, on November 6, 1951, Brooks filed in this court the motion now before us, naming himself as plaintiff and the Chief Judge and Associate Judges of the District Court as defendants. Attached to the motion is the proffered complaint. The defendant judges filed a motion to dismiss Brooks's motion. Attached to their motion were a number of exhibits. Both motions were set for oral argument and were heard.

Substantive facts. In his questionnaire and affidavit Brooks stated that he was born in Evergreen, Alabama; that his only residences had been in Evergreen, Birmingham, and Washington, D. C.; that he had not attended college; that he had an LL.B. degree from LaSalle, Chicago, having taken special courses at Birmingham; and that he had had "No actual private practice alone — since admitted to bar." In response to an instruction to "Make a complete statement of your practice of the law", Brooks wrote that he had assisted William G. Black, Esquire, of Birmingham, in research "in spare time — and gratis" and that he had been in "Government practice" on the legal staff of the Office of Inter-American Affairs and the Department of State, which Government service he dated as from April 1, 1945, to March 15, 1947 (23½ months). At another point on the questionnaire and in a letter which accompanied, or preceded, it, he made reference to work in the Claims Division of the General Accounting Office from October 1, 1942, to April 1, 1945, but it is not

208 F.2d 20
clear that by those references he was claiming that work as the practice of the law. On the questionnaire he stated that from December 1, 1926, to October 1, 1942, he was employed by the Southeastern Express Company and its successor, the Railway Express Agency, at Birmingham, as a clerk and "in different capacities". He stated that he had been admitted to the Mississippi Bar March 2, 1942, to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi and the Mississippi State Supreme Court in March, 1945, and to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in 1946. He made no entry on either of the two items of the questionnaire which called for statements of "every application presented and examination taken by you for a license granted by the state or an official position, the procurement of which required proof of good character" and "every application for admission to the bar made by you EXCEPT those covered by your answers to question 9" (which answers were those relating to admission in Mississippi, etc.). In answer to the question "Have you ever been a party to or had or claimed any interest in any civil proceeding?", he wrote "No." On the questionnaire he said: "Due to coming with the Federal Government in 1942 immediately after passing the bar. I was not in a position to begin practice. but If sic I had not accepted the position here I would have actually been in private practice. I deem the Government practice equivalent to such actual practice in Mississippi. The State of Mississippi grants the privilege of reciprocity." Attached to the questionnaire were a certificate of the Board of Bar Admissions of Mississippi dated March 2, 1942, stating that Brooks was "in all things duly qualified" to practice law in all courts of the State; certificates of the clerks of the courts to which he had been admitted; a copy of his degree from LaSalle Extension University; and the certificate of its Dean, with Brooks's marks in his law courses

In his "Motion for Reconsideration" Brooks said that he claimed credit for seven months of private practice from March 2, 1942, to October 1, 1942, and he also attached evidence as to his legal duties in his position as clerk to the Chief Judge of the Municipal Court for the District of Columbia. He also then stated that he was a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, of this court, and of the United States Emergency Court of Appeals. Attached to that motion was an affidavit of Brooks, in which he described his claimed private practice as follows:

"* * * that from the date of his admission, he was in said Court the Circuit Court of Lauderdale County, Mississippi several times per month, and although he was ready, able and willing to take Court appointed cases, Civil or Criminal, indigent or otherwise, he did not maintain a law office, but was before the Court and holding himself out as an attorney in the practice of law, the same as some attorneys in the District of Columbia who are before the Courts daily and handle cases when appointed by the Court, but who do not maintain an office; that he did converse with the said Judge Busby on some cases but did not actually handle any case * * *."

Also attached to Brooks's motion was an affidavit by him, stating that since October 4, 1948, he had been Court Clerk to the Chief Judge of the Municipal Court and describing his duties as such. In a statement filed at the same time the position is described as "Clerk of the Court" for the Chief Judge.

In papers filed in this proceeding by respondents it is shown that Brooks filed thirteen applications for admission to the Alabama bar and took the examination eight times but did not pass it; that in 1941 Brooks brought a suit for declaratory judgment in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama, praying for decision as to whether he must comply with certain revised rules as to admission to that bar; and that the suit was dismissed on a plea of res judicata.

208 F.2d 21

It is obvious that Brooks failed, in the papers he filed with the District Court, to show that he was entitled to admission to the bar of that court under its rules governing the admission of members of the bar of other jurisdictions upon motion without examination. The requirement of the rule is that the applicant must have "practiced law for five years".2 The assistance Brooks said he gave William G. Black, Esquire, of Birmingham, could not have been the practice of law, because Brooks was never admitted to the Alabama Bar. His claim for "Government practice" in the Office of Inter-American Affairs and the State Department was for only 23½ months. His work as a claims examiner in the General Accounting Office was from October 1, 1942, to April 1, 1945, thirty months. The total time in the Federal Government is thus less than the required five years. Moreover there is nothing in the papers to show that the work in the General Accounting Office was the practice of law; indeed Brooks said his position there came from an examination for an "Express Clerk", although he accepted a position as a claims examiner.

In his motion for...

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