San Diego Law Review


Roy W. Paul Jr.

Library of Congress Authority File


Document Type

Recent Cases


Terence Hallinan was refused certification for admission to practice law in California by the Committee of Bar Examiners upon a finding that he was not of "good moral character." The Committee's determination was based on Hallinan's beliefs and activities in connection with "civil disobedience" and, in particular, several misdemeanor convictions arising from these activities. In addition, Hallinan's past record included several fistfights and other conduct which the Committee held indicated a disregard for the law and a propensity for violence. The Committee's decision was made after lengthy hearings before a three-man subcommittee and a review of the entire record of the previous hearings by the full Committee in which additional evidence was produced. Before the Committee ended its proceedings, Hallinan petitioned the California Supreme Court to order the Committee to make its decision immediately and halt any further inquiry into the question of his admission to the bar. Hallinan also requested that the Supreme Court review the proceedings before the Committee and admit him to practice. In the meantime, the Committee formally made its recommendation that he not be admitted. The California Supreme Court, in admitting Hallinan to the California Bar held: (1) Standards relating to admission to the bar must have a rational connection with an applicant's fitness or capacity to practice law; (2)the investigation into moral character should be limited to determining whether the applicant, if admitted, will obstruct justice or otherwise act unscruptulously as an officer of the Court; (3) the beliefs and activities of Hallinan with respect to "civil disobedience" did not constitute grounds to exclude him from the practice of law because of a lack of "good moral character"; and, (4) there is no simple guide to determine the moral character required for the practice of law - the particular circumstances must be examined carefully to determine their relevance to the practice of law. Halliman v. Committee of Bar Examiners, 65 Adv. Cal. 485, 421 P.2d 76, 55 Cal. Rptr. 228 (1966).

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