Naamjp v. Simandle, CIVIL ACTION No. 14-3678

CourtUnited States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
Writing for the CourtMCHUGH, J.
PartiesNAAMJP, et al., Plaintiffs, v. JEROME V. SIMANDLE, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the District Of New Jersey, et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberCIVIL ACTION No. 14-3678
Decision Date01 September 2015

NAAMJP, et al., Plaintiffs,
JEROME V. SIMANDLE, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the District Of New Jersey, et al., Defendants.

CIVIL ACTION No. 14-3678





I. Introduction

The National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice (NAAMJP) continues its campaign for lawyers who are admitted to practice law in certain courts but cannot gain admission to other courts without taking an additional bar exam. I am not aware of any complete accounting of NAAMJP's extensive litigation through the years, but the organization has fought its campaign in courts across the United States. The Defendants counted fourteen NAAMJP lawsuits challenging attorney admission rules. Even this Judge has had the responsibility to preside over one such case. NAAMJP v. Castille, 66 F.Supp. 3d 633 (E.D. Pa. Dec. 11, 2014), aff'd, 2015 WL 5024222 (3d Cir. Aug. 26, 2015). To my knowledge, in none of these cases has NAAMJP been successful. I mention this history only to put this case in context, and not in criticism of NAAMJP for pursuing its cause.

In the present action, NAAMJP and several of its members have filed a challenge against the judges of the Federal District Court for the District of New Jersey. Plaintiffs allege that the

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New Jersey District Court's rule governing the admission of lawyers to the court's bar violates federal statutory and constitutional rules.

The rules governing attorney admissions are quickly evolving, and they are subject to a great deal of public debate. I recognize the importance of admissions rules to many attorneys. Nonetheless, for the reasons discussed below, I deny the legal relief that Plaintiffs seek.

II. Factual and Procedural Background

NAAMJP is an organization "engaged in interstate commerce and advocacy throughout the United States for the purpose of improving the legal profession, by petitioning for admission on motion in the dwindling minority of jurisdictions that have not yet adopted the AVA's recommendations for reciprocal admission for all lawyers." Complaint at ¶ 6. The NAAMJP claims it has members who are prevented from joining the bar of the District of New Jersey by the rule Plaintiffs challenge. The individual Plaintiffs, Robert Vereb, and Benjamin Josef Doscher, are two members of NAAMJP. Vereb is a lawyer admitted to practice in New York State and federal courts in New York. Dosher is also a lawyer admitted in New York State. He is admitted to the bars of several federal courts including the United States Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Both state that they "will apply for admission to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey bar if its admission rule is changed." Complaint at ¶¶ 7, 8.

The Defendants are judges of the District Court of New Jersey and former Attorney General Eric Holder. According to Plaintiffs, these judges voted to approve the rule that Plaintiffs challenge. The former Attorney General was named as a defendant because of the federal government's role in enforcing the federal statutes that allegedly conflict with the New Jersey District Court's bar admission rule.

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Plaintiffs have focused their advocacy on provisions of Local Civil Rule 101.1. Plaintiffs' primary target is parts (b) and (c), which together provide that attorneys licensed to practice by the Supreme Court of New Jersey may be admitted to practice in the District Court on motion, but attorneys not licensed in New Jersey must apply for pro hac vice admission for each case in which they participate in the District Court. Plaintiffs also challenge parts (e), (f), and (j) which permit attorneys to appear in court who practice patent law, represent the United States, or represent criminal defendants, respectively.

Plaintiffs' Complaint alleges these rules violate federal statutory and constitutional law. In Count I, Plaintiffs allege Local Rule 101.1 violates the Rules Enabling Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2071-72 by impermissibly affecting substantive rights of lawyers and litigants. Count II alleges the rule violates the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Count III asserts Local Rule 101.1 infringes the First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, association, and petition. Finally, in Count IV, Plaintiffs claim Local Rule 101.1 violates the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution by denying lawyers equal protection of the laws.

Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint in its entirety. Defendants attack Plaintiffs' standing to bring their claims as well as the substantive merits of each claim. Plaintiffs opposed the Defendants' Motion, and Plaintiffs also filed their own motion for Summary Judgment, which Defendants have opposed in turn. I will grant Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, and I will therefore dismiss the Complaint along with Plaintiffs' mooted motion for Summary Judgment.

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III. Discussion

a. Lack of Standing

Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), Defendants challenge the standing of the individual Plaintiffs as well as the NAAMJP to bring their claims. According to Defendants, Plaintiffs fail to allege they have suffered injury because of the New Jersey District Court's rule, and consequently this Court lacks jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims. I conclude that Plaintiffs have sufficiently alleged standing.

Federal courts lack the power to consider a claim if the plaintiff lacks standing to bring it. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992) ("[T]he core component of standing is an essential and unchanging part of the case-or-controversy requirement of Article III"). Standing has three requirements:

First, the plaintiff must have suffered an "injury in fact"—an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) "actual or imminent, not 'conjectural' or 'hypothetical.' " Second, there must be a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of—the injury has to be "fairly ... trace[able] to the challenged action of the defendant, and not ... th[e] result [of] the independent action of some third party not before the court." Third, it must be "likely," as opposed to merely "speculative," that the injury will be "redressed by a favorable decision."

Constitution Party of Pennsylvania v. Aichele, 757 F.3d 347, 360 (3d Cir. 2014) (citing Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560-61).

When considering a motion to dismiss based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), if the movant challenges the facial sufficiency of the complaint, the court should accept the plaintiffs' allegations in support of standing as true and then decide whether the plaintiff has alleged facts that support jurisdiction. McCann v. Newman Irrevocable Trust, 458 F.3d 281, 290 (3d Cir. 2006) (when deciding a Rule 12(b)(1) motion, "[i]f a defendant does not

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challenge the facts alleged in the plaintiff's pleadings, a court may rule on the motion by accepting these allegations as true.").

i. Standing of Individual Plaintiffs

Defendants argue individual Plaintiffs Vereb and Doscher lack standing for several reasons. First, Defendants point out that Vereb and Doscher do not explicitly state they are not members of the New Jersey bar. Since Vereb and Doscher might be members of the New Jersey bar, they might be eligible to apply for membership in the bar of the New Jersey District Court. If they are eligible to apply to the District Court's bar, they are not injured by Local Civil Rule 101.1, and they have no standing to challenge it.

I am not persuaded by this argument. When deciding a motion to dismiss, a court must "draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor." West Penn Allegheny Health System, Inc. v. UPMC, 627 F.3d 85, 91 (3d Cir. 2010). It is clear that based on the text of the Complaint, it is more than reasonable to infer that the individual plaintiffs are not members of the New Jersey bar. If this case were to proceed, Defendants would have the opportunity to conduct discovery and raise a factual challenge to Plaintiffs' standing if they uncovered evidence that Plaintiffs are in fact members of the New Jersey bar.

Second, Defendants argue that Plaintiffs lack standing because even if Plaintiffs are ineligible to join the District Court's bar, they do not claim they have applied to join the bar and have been denied. Plaintiffs have therefore not yet actually suffered any injury. Defendants rely on cases that include NAAMJP v. Gonzales, 211 Fed. App'x. 91, 95 (3d Cir. 2006). In Gonzales, the Third Circuit found individual plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge bar admissions rules because they failed to show they "personally ... suffered some actual or threatened injury." Id. The plaintiffs in that case, the court explained, "made no showing that they were denied the

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ability to practice in any of those states [whose rules the NAAMJP challenged]." The court also noted the plaintiffs did not claim "that they would seek to practice [in states with challenged rules] but-for the local court rules." Id. Here Plaintiffs have alleged facts missing in Gonzales. Both Plaintiffs claim they will apply for admission if the rules change, and there is no doubt their applications would be denied. In Sammon v. New Jersey Bd. of Medical Examiners,...

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