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Court sends reminder on permanent withdrawal rules

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Note to Indiana attorneys: don’t permanently relinquish your law license in this state unless you’re absolutely sure you won’t ever want to return. If you do, don’t be surprised if you have to take the bar exam again.

That’s the message the Indiana Supreme Court reiterated on Monday, issuing an order in Ronald W. Harmeyer v. State Board of Law Examiners, No. 94S00-1107-BL-4686, that denies a former Fort Wayne lawyer’s request to be readmitted in Indiana without re-taking the bar exam here.

Admitted in 1992, Ron W. Harmeyer began practicing in Indiana and was admitted in Wisconsin in 1996. In late 2008, he submitted an affidavit of permanent withdrawal to the Indiana Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Commission and agreed that he would need to comply with Admission and Discipline Rules 3-21 if he ever wanted to return to practice in Indiana.  His license was relinquished in December 2008.

Under the state’s attorney admission rules, lawyers must take the bar exam and be admitted within two years, or they must take the exam again. Retired attorneys can be readmitted through lesser requirements without retaking the bar exam, but that does not apply in this case. Harmeyer sought and received permanent withdrawal.

On July 11, 2011, Harmeyer called the Indiana Board of Law Examiners to ask about reinstatement and was told he’d either have to retake the Indiana bar exam or seek a provisional or business counsel license to be readmitted. He filed a petition with the Supreme Court that same day requesting a review of the BLE’s final decision, arguing that the state admission rules require a person to take and pass the bar exam here only once and so he shouldn’t have to do so again.

“The phrases ‘final action’ and ‘final determination’ (in Admission and Discipline Rule 14) denote a greater degree of formality than exists in Harmeyer’s situation,” Chief Justice Randall Shepard wrote in the order, noting that the information wasn’t a “final action” as Harmeyer described it.

Harmeyer’s petition is dismissed as procedurally premature. But Chief Justice Shepard added that even if Harmeyer’s petition followed a “final action” from the BLE, the court would likely have denied it because the rules clearly inform attorneys the consequences of permanently relinquishing their law licenses – that includes passing the bar exam again if the lawyer has not secured a provisional or business counsel license.
 

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  1. People have heard of Magna Carta, and not the Provisions of Oxford & Westminster. Not that anybody really cares. Today, it might be considered ethnic or racial bias to talk about the "Anglo Saxon common law." I don't even see the word English in the blurb above. Anyhow speaking of Edward I-- he was famously intolerant of diversity himself viz the Edict of Expulsion 1290. So all he did too like making parliament a permanent institution-- that all must be discredited. 100 years from now such commemorations will be in the dustbin of history.

  2. Oops, I meant discipline, not disciple. Interesting that those words share such a close relationship. We attorneys are to be disciples of the law, being disciplined to serve the law and its source, the constitutions. Do that, and the goals of Magna Carta are advanced. Do that not and Magna Carta is usurped. Do that not and you should be disciplined. Do that and you should be counted a good disciple. My experiences, once again, do not reveal a process that is adhering to the due process ideals of Magna Carta. Just the opposite, in fact. Braveheart's dying rebel (for a great cause) yell comes to mind.

  3. It is not a sign of the times that many Ind licensed attorneys (I am not) would fear writing what I wrote below, even if they had experiences to back it up. Let's take a minute to thank God for the brave Baron's who risked death by torture to tell the government that it was in the wrong. Today is a career ruination that whistleblowers risk. That is often brought on by denial of licenses or disciple for those who dare speak truth to power. Magna Carta says truth rules power, power too often claims that truth matters not, only Power. Fight such power for the good of our constitutional republics. If we lose them we have only bureaucratic tyranny to pass onto our children. Government attorneys, of all lawyers, should best realize this and work to see our patrimony preserved. I am now a government attorney (once again) in Kansas, and respecting the rule of law is my passion, first and foremost.

  4. I have dealt with more than a few I-465 moat-protected government attorneys and even judges who just cannot seem to wrap their heads around the core of this 800 year old document. I guess monarchial privileges and powers corrupt still ..... from an academic website on this fantastic "treaty" between the King and the people ... "Enduring Principles of Liberty Magna Carta was written by a group of 13th-century barons to protect their rights and property against a tyrannical king. There are two principles expressed in Magna Carta that resonate to this day: "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land." "To no one will We sell, to no one will We deny or delay, right or justice." Inspiration for Americans During the American Revolution, Magna Carta served to inspire and justify action in liberty’s defense. The colonists believed they were entitled to the same rights as Englishmen, rights guaranteed in Magna Carta. They embedded those rights into the laws of their states and later into the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution ("no person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.") is a direct descendent of Magna Carta's guarantee of proceedings according to the "law of the land." http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/magna_carta/

  5. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

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