For the first time in more than 30 years, the Washington Supreme Court issued an opinion on the character and fitness test for admission under the Admission and Practice Rules (APR). In re Simmons was an appeal from the WSBA Character and Fitness Board’s denial of Tarra Simmons’ application to sit for the bar exam. Simmons, a magna cum laude graduate of Seattle University School of Law, Dean’s Medal recipient, and Skadden Fellow, also had a troubled history of substance abuse and drug-related crimes that led to prison. In its unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court overturned the decision of the Character and Fitness Board and provided some guidance as to the application of the factors for determining good moral character and fitness to practice law set out in the APRs. Simmons sat for the bar exam, passed it, and is now a member of the Washington State Bar Association.
But how did the two adjudicatory bodies looking at the same record reach opposite results? Who is Tarra Simmons? And, after a historic turn of events, what should WSBA members know about the internal workings of the Character and Fitness Board?
The July issue of NWLawyer takes a deep dive into these questions and more with an examination of the character and fitness review process, an analysis of the Supreme Court’s reversal of the Character and Fitness Board’s decision, and a first-hand account from Simmons herself. Read more
In a case of first impression in Washington, the Supreme Court recently held that the double jeopardy provisions of the United States and Washington Constitutions do not apply to lawyer discipline proceedings. In re Waechter, ___ Wn.2d ___, 419 P.3d 827, 2018 WL 2977072 (June 14, 2018), involved a lawyer who had allegedly converted client funds from his trust account. Read more
A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court over a land dispute between two Skagit County land owners and the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe provided some clarification on an earlier Washington Supreme Court precedent, but left open a much larger question concerning tribal sovereign immunity. Read more
The Washington Supreme Court recently approved a package of related Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) amendments addressing imputed conflicts for public defenders. “Imputed” conflicts are those shared by all law practitioners working in a single firm. Some public defenders are government employees while others work for law firms or nonprofits. Read more
For Washington lawyers who are also licensed in Idaho, the Idaho Supreme Court recently amended its licensing rule to soon require malpractice insurance for lawyers in private practice. Read more