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MURPHY v. STATE BD. OF LAW EXAMINERS FOR PENNSYLVA

March 29, 1977

EDWARD M. MURPHY, II
v.
STATE BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS FOR THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GORBEY

 GORBEY, J.

 On November 24, 1976, plaintiff was notified by the State Board that he could not take the bar examination because his law school, although accredited in California, is not accredited by the American Bar Association, citing Rule 8 C which provides:

 
C. To qualify for the bar examination an applicant: . . .
 
2. shall have completed the study of law in a law school accredited by the American Bar Association; or shall have acquired a legal education which in the opinion of the State Board is the equivalent.

 In a letter from the Secretary of the State Board of Law Examiners to the plaintiff, dated November 24, 1976, he was informed that:

 
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has indicated to the State Board of Law Examiners that the 'equivalency' rule applies only to graduates of law schools which are not subject to A.B.A. accreditation . . .
 
Plaintiff's Complaint, Appendix A.

 That category of law students would, of course, include law schools in foreign nations.

 Following his denial by the State Board, plaintiff petitioned the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which, on December 23, 1976, denied the petition (Plaintiff's Complaint, Appendix C). Thereafter, on February 7, 1977, plaintiff filed a complaint in the above-captioned case seeking a declaratory judgment as to his right to take the Pennsylvania Bar examination, and, if successful in passing it, to be admitted to the practice of law in Pennsylvania.

 The plaintiff has invoked this court's jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202, 2281, 2284, 1343(3), 1331; also 42 U.S.C. § 1983, although the State Board is not a "person" within the meaning of that statute and no relief could be granted pursuant to it. 28 U.S.C. § 1331(a) requires both a federal question as well as a claim of damages in the jurisdictional amount in excess of $10,000. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201, 2202, with respect to declaratory judgment are remedial and are not intended to confer jurisdiction where none already exists.

 The Pennsylvania Constitution grants the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania the responsibility to promulgate rules governing admissions to the Bar. Article V, § 10c.

 By Supreme Court Rule 7, the State Board of Law Examiners has been vested with the responsibility of enforcing the court's rules concerning registration and admission to the Bar, and is authorized to issue a certificate recommending admission to the Bar to each applicant it has found to be fit and qualified under the Supreme Court's rules. Finally, no person can be admitted unless the Supreme Court, upon motion of a ...


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