Wilson v. Wilson, Civ. No. 75-754.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Oregon)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation416 F. Supp. 984
Docket NumberCiv. No. 75-754.
Decision Date28 June 1976
PartiesWarren B. WILSON, Plaintiff, v. O. Meredith WILSON, Jr. et al., Defendants.

416 F. Supp. 984

Warren B. WILSON, Plaintiff,
v.
O. Meredith WILSON, Jr. et al., Defendants.

Civ. No. 75-754.

United States District Court, D. Oregon.

June 28, 1976.


416 F. Supp. 985

Charles O. Porter, Eugene, Ore., for plaintiff.

Jonathan A. Ater, Lindsay, Nahstoll, Hart & Krause, Portland, Ore., for defendants.

Before WRIGHT, Circuit Judge and TAYLOR and THOMPSON, District Judges.

OPINION

PER CURIAM.

In this Section 1983 action 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff challenges the constitutionality of certain Oregon statutes, Supreme Court rules, and requirements of the state's Board of Bar Examiners, pertaining to application for admission to the Oregon State Bar.

The facts are not in dispute. Plaintiff resides part-time on his farm in Gold Hill, Oregon, and part-time in Oakland, California. He is an active member of the California bar. Defendants are members of the Board of Governors of the Oregon State Bar, members of the Board of Bar Examiners, and justices of the Oregon Supreme Court.

Plaintiff seeks to practice law both in California and Oregon. He has no intention to establish full-time residence in Oregon.

In 1974 and 1975, plaintiff applied for admission to the Oregon bar. He was allowed to take the 1974 bar examination but was denied admission because of noncompliance with examination regulations. This denial was upheld by the federal district court in its unpublished opinion of January 24, 1975. Wilson v. Wilson, Civ. No. 74-521 (D.Ore.).

Plaintiff's 1975 application was denied for three reasons:

(1) He failed to properly answer a question on the application form concerning the existence of any expunged offenses on his record;
(2) He refused to sign a statement prospectively exonerating from liability any person who provided the Board of Bar Examiners with information bearing on his application for admission;
(3) He failed to indicate on the application his intent to meet Oregon's residency requirements as of the time of admission.

Plaintiff asserts jurisdiction under Title 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343(3), and Title 42 U.S.C. § 1983. He alleges in the alternative: (1) defendants have exceeded the permissible scope of statutory or regulatory authority; or (2) the Oregon statutes and rules violate his rights of equal protection, procedural and substantive due process, and interstate travel. He seeks both injunctive and declaratory relief.

Defendants ask, alternatively, that we either award judgment for them and dismiss all claims or abstain from reaching them because of the possibility that state court interpretation could render unnecessary any federal constitutional adjudication.

I.

EXPUNGED OFFENSES

In its standard application form the organized bar asks whether an applicant has

ever been accused of, charged with, or arrested or detained for, the violation of any state, federal, municipal or other law, statute or ordinance, including juvenile or expunged offenses.

Plaintiff struck the words "or expunged," and answered "No."

Plaintiff asserts that the requirement to disclose expunged offenses either "has no basis in any statute or rule of the Oregon Supreme Court," or has no rational relation to a legitimate state purpose.

O.R.S. § 9.220(2) requires that those admitted to the bar must be of "good moral

416 F. Supp. 986
character, which may be proved by any evidence satisfactory to the state supreme court." O.R.S. § 9.210 and Oregon Supreme Court Rule 1.30 together give to the Board of Bar Examiners authority to investigate candidates, including certainly the power to demand disclosure of relevant information on an application form

Information regarding expunged offenses is clearly relevant to (although not necessarily determinative of) the moral character of an applicant. Determination of moral character is without question a legitimate state purpose in the context of a professional licensing scheme. The demand for disclosure of expunged offenses is a rational and reasonable method by which to promote this state purpose. It scarcely violates plaintiff's constitutional rights.

II.

THE "PROSPECTIVE EXONERATION" CLAUSE

The signature page of the application form contains printed language authorizing the Oregon State Bar and its agents to investigate the applicant's character and fitness, and adds this clause:

I hereby release and exonerate those so authorized and any person or organization supplying requested information from liability of any kind resulting from the investigation or from furnishing information. . . .

Plaintiff struck the portion quoted above, then signed the application.

The Board's decision to deny plaintiff's application because of his failure to consent to the exoneration provision was a reasonable one. As we have already discussed, the Board has authority under O.R.S. § 9.210 and Rule 1.30 to investigate applicants for determination of moral character. Consistent with this authority, the Board may require an applicant to exonerate those providing information to the Board "from liability of any kind," so as to promote full disclosure of information relevant to the Board's investigation.1

As a means of facilitating full inquiry into the moral character of bar applicants,...

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15 practice notes
  • Practice and procedure: Patent and trademark cases rules of practice; representation of others before Patent and Trademark Office,
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...expunged offenses is clearly relevant to, though not necessarily determinative of, an applicant's moral character. See Wilson v. Wilson, 416 F.Supp. 984 (D. Oregon 1976). Expungement, for example, does not signify that the person was innocent of the crime. Rather, expungement alleviates cer......
  • Part II
    • United States
    • Federal Register December 12, 2003
    • December 12, 2003
    ...expunged offenses is clearly relevant to, though not necessarily determinative of, an applicant's moral character. See Wilson v. Wilson, 416 F.Supp. 984 (D. Oregon 1976). Expungement, for example, does not signify that the person was innocent of the crime. Rather, expungement alleviates cer......
  • Piper v. Supreme Court of New Hampshire, No. 82-1548
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • May 25, 1983
    ...bound by the Supreme Court's summary affirmance in Wilson v. Wilson, 430 U.S. 925, 97 S.Ct. 1540, 51 L.Ed.2d 768 (1977), (memo), aff'g, 416 F.Supp. 984 (D.Or.1976), because although the issue was raised before the Supreme Court, the lower court in that case did not decide whether or not the......
  • Golden v. State Bd. of Law Examiners, Civ. No. K-77-677.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • March 30, 1978
    ...prior thereto to state his intention to be a resident at time of admission, was held valid by a three-judge court in Wilson v. Wilson, 416 F.Supp. 984, 986-88 (D.Ore. 1976), aff'd mem., 430 U.S. 925, 97 S.Ct. 1540, 51 L.Ed.2d 768 (1977). In that case, plaintiff "resides part-time"......
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13 cases
  • Piper v. Supreme Court of New Hampshire, No. 82-1548
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • May 25, 1983
    ...bound by the Supreme Court's summary affirmance in Wilson v. Wilson, 430 U.S. 925, 97 S.Ct. 1540, 51 L.Ed.2d 768 (1977), (memo), aff'g, 416 F.Supp. 984 (D.Or.1976), because although the issue was raised before the Supreme Court, the lower court in that case did not decide whether or not the......
  • Golden v. State Bd. of Law Examiners, Civ. No. K-77-677.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • March 30, 1978
    ...prior thereto to state his intention to be a resident at time of admission, was held valid by a three-judge court in Wilson v. Wilson, 416 F.Supp. 984, 986-88 (D.Ore. 1976), aff'd mem., 430 U.S. 925, 97 S.Ct. 1540, 51 L.Ed.2d 768 (1977). In that case, plaintiff "resides part-time"......
  • Piper v. Supreme Court of New Hampshire, No. 82-1548
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • December 5, 1983
    ...issue, and no specific basis for the constitutional claim was mentioned. Nor is the issue in this case foreclosed by Wilson v. Wilson, 416 F.Supp. 984 (D.Or.1976), summarily aff'd, 430 U.S. 925, 97 S.Ct. 1540, 51 L.Ed.2d 768 (1977). The district court in Wilson was faced with a challenge to......
  • Jadd, Matter of
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • February 21, 1984
    ...Federal District Court judge's conclusion that he was bound by the United States Supreme Court's affirmance of Wilson v. Wilson, 416 F.Supp. 984 (D.Or.1976), aff'd mem., 430 U.S. 925, 97 S.Ct. 1540, 51 L.Ed.2d 768 (1977), a pre-Hicklin determination, is of doubtful merit. See Piper v. Supre......
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