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California court opens attorney licensing to undocumented immigrantsSergio Garcia

In a ruling that may have wide-ranging effects on professional licensing, the California Supreme Court held January 4 that an undocumented immigrant who meets entry requirements has the right to become a licensed attorney. The decision (In re Garcia on Admission) was made in response to a recently enacted state law, and breaks new ground by granting bar admission to applicant Sergio Garcia, a Mexican national.

“The fact that an undocumented immigrant is present in the United States without lawful authorization does not itself involve moral turpitude or demonstrate moral unfitness so as to justify exclusion to the state bar,” wrote Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. “Although an undocumented immigrant’s presence in this country is unlawful and can result in a variety of civil sanctions under federal immigration law, . . . an undocumented immigrant’s presence does not constitute a criminal offense under federal law and thus is not subject to criminal sanctions.”

Although Garcia was born in Mexico, his parents first brought him to the United States illegally when he was only 17 months old. He spent the next eight years in California, moved back to Mexico, then returned in 1994 after his father obtained permanent resident status; Garcia himself crossed again without documentation.  As a child of a permanent resident, Garcia applied for permanent resident status but, because of the limited number of immigrant visas, he was still waiting a determination 19 years after he filed the application.


In the current issue

Professional licensing enforcers land in court over joint raid with police

Barber's PoleA massive raid on several Orlando, Florida, barbershops, in which the state’s professional regulation agency was aided by armed police officers in body armor and masks, resulted in at least one lawsuit claiming that the raids violated the constitutional rights of the target licensees. An August 22 decision by U.S. District Court in Orlando detailed the operation and allowed some of the complaints to proceed (Berry v. Demings).

On August 21, 2010, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, aided by the Orange Country Sheriff’s Office, conducted a large sweep operation in Pine Hills, a neighborhood near Orlando. Included in the sweep was Strictly Skillz, a barbershop owned by licensed barber Brian Berry that was suspected of hosting unlicensed cosmetologists.

In the current issue

Discipline over verbally abusive behavior upheld

Blood PressureThe Court of Appeals of Iowa upheld a decision by the state’s board of medicine to discipline a doctor who had been terminated from a university hospital system as the result of his abusive and demeaning behavior towards his colleagues and students (Al-Jurf v. Iowa Board of Medicine). The case was decided July 24.
In 2003, the provost of the University of Iowa filed an ethics complaint against Adel Al-Jurf, an oncologist employed by the university’s hospital system, accusing Al-Jurf of “personal vilification” and verbal abuse of other hospital employees.

“Gross immorality:” What does it mean in professional discipline?

An Ohio appellate court in Ohio restored discipline imposed by the state’s board of pharmacy on a licensee who had fondled a co-worker at a drugstore in the state. The June 13 ruling overturned a lower court that the phrase “gross immorality” was insufficiently defined under the law (Raymond P. Denuit v. Ohio State Board of Pharmacy).

Discipline, fine reversed for lack of introduced evidence

A discipline order imposed by the state dental board on a dentist who had placed advertising linking dementia to missing teeth was reversed June 21 by the Supreme Court of Idaho for lack of evidence (Lon N. Peckham v. Idaho State Board of Dentistry and Kevin T. Stock).

$500,000 in fees awarded over unconstitutional citizenship requirement

A group of non-resident pharmacists who successfully sued the New York Department of Education for exclusion from the licensing process were awarded $500,000 in attorneys’ fees by a federal district court March 28 (Nareen Adusumelli, et al. v. David Steiner, et al.).

Outrageously fake doctor loses habeus corpus appeal

A California woman who masqueraded as a doctor—doling out pills, making unfounded diagnoses, and preying on the local Indian immigrant community—lost a habeas corpus appeal of her state criminal conviction in March (Reena Chopra v. Attorney General of California).

Tax-dodging convictions show moral turpitude, court finds

An appellate court in South Carolina dismissed the claims of a disciplined veterinarian January 16 by noting that the statute he cited to argue that the state’s veterinarian board incorrectly relied on his felony convictions to impose discipline only applies to applicants for licensure, and not existing licensees (John D. Cottingham v. South Carolina Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners)

Unprofessional conduct charge for DUI is constitutional

The Tennessee medical board was within its rights to discipline a doctor for unprofessional conduct after he was convicted of driving under the influence, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee in Nashville ruled January 9  (Ernest B. Kleier v. Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners). The court found that the state’s statute for charging physicians with unprofessional conduct is not unconstitutionally vague.