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MURPHY v. EGAN

April 3, 1980

In re Edward M. MURPHY,
v.
Michael J. EGAN, Individually and as a justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who has responsibility for administration of admissions to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Henry X. O'Brien, Individually and as a justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who has responsibility for administration of admissions to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Samuel J. Roberts, Individually and as a justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who has responsibility for administration of admissions to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Robert N. C. Nix, Jr., Individually and as a justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who has responsibility for administration of admissions to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Louis L. Manderino, Individually and as a justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who has responsibility for administration of admissions to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Rolf Larson, Individually and as a justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Courtwho has responsibility for administration of admissions to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and John P. Flaherty, Individually and as a justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court who has responsibility for administration of admissions to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINER

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, a citizen and resident of Pennsylvania instituted this action, against the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, alleging a violation of his Constitutional rights. The parties have submitted a stipulation of facts. Presently before the Court are the defendants' motion to dismiss and the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons to follow, we grant the plaintiff's motion, and deny the defendants' motion.

 Plaintiff is a 1976 graduate of Western State University School of Law, ("Western State") located in Fullerton, California, and is a member of the bar of the State of California, having taken and passed the California Bar Examination in 1976. Western State is not accredited by the American Bar Association, ("ABA"), although it is accredited by the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State of California and various other accrediting and government agencies. Plaintiff has been admitted to and is a member in good standing of the Supreme Court of California, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

 Sometime before October 31, 1976, plaintiff applied to the Pennsylvania Board of Law Examiners, ("Board"), for permission to take the Pennsylvania bar examination. On November 24, 1976, Plaintiff was informed by the Board that his application had been denied because he had not graduated from an ABA approved law school, as required by Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules. *fn1" Plaintiff's appeal from the Board's decision to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania was denied, without opinion, on December 23, 1976.

 Rule 203 of the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules provides in pertinent part:

 
"The general requirements for admission to the bar of this Commonwealth are:
 
(2) Receipt of an earned Bachelor of Laws or Juris Doctor degree from an accredited law school. See Rule 205 (relating to admission of foreign attorneys) for standards applicable to graduates of foreign law school."

 Rule 205 of the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules provides in pertinent part:

 
"The Board, under such standards, rules and procedures as it may prescribe, may extend the provisions of Rule 203 (relating to the admission of graduates of accredited institutions) to any applicant who has completed the study of law in a law school which at the time of such completion was not located within the geographical area encompassed by the accreditation activities of the American Bar Association and who has been admitted to practice law in and is in good standing at the bar of a foreign country, as evidenced by a certificate from the highest court or agency of such foreign country having jurisdiction over admission to the bar and the practice of law.
 
Note: This rule makes clear that the Board does not have the power to entertain applications from persons who have "read law" in a law office, studied law in the United States in unaccredited law schools, etc."

 Rule 222 of the Pennsylvania Bar Admission Rules provides in pertinent part:

 
"(a) Except as prescribed by Rule 221 (relating to marking of bar examination papers) any final determination of the Board may be reviewed by the Supreme Court."

 Plaintiff alleges that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court engages in a "waiver practice" whereby the ABA accreditation requirement is waived for some graduates of non-ABA approved law schools, who are permitted to take the Pennsylvania Bar Exam. Plaintiff's claim is that these waivers are dispensed in a way which ...


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