The almost lawyer, learning about the justice system…
Mauricio Celis, 42,was expelled from Northwestern Law School, just before he was due to graduate, for not telling the school when he applied that he was a former felon in Texas, convicted there for falsely holding himself out as a lawyer and also for impersonating a police officer. Northwestern confirmed that it never asked him to disclose any criminal history, but argued that Celis should have known that his criminal record was material.
The school didn’t check on his background; it didn’t even google him. If it had, it would have learned that Celis was infamous in Texas, and called “The Great Pretender.” A prosecutor called him “the biggest con man in the history of Nueces County.” He certainly was audacious, opening law offices in multiple cities, raking in fees, using his success as a fake lawyer to raise money for Democrats. Compared to his scam, Northwestern was timid. It just took his money, $76,000, and then expelled him without giving him a diploma.
Your strange Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz:
Was it ethical for Northwestern to expel Celis?
David Powers, a certified public accountant working at PricewaterhouseCoopers, standing third in his class at St. John’s University School of Law, was preparing to graduate this spring. Seeking to move from accounting to law (and who wouldn’t?), Powers was completely candid to the New York Appellate Court’s Character and Fitness Committee, disclosing an expunged 1999 conviction for drug possession on his record and the circumstances surrounding it. He wanted to know if the conviction would be a hurdle to his acceptance for admission to the New York Bar. But when he asked St. John’s to send the Bar a letter of support, it not only refused but rescinded his admission, reports the New York Post.
Now Powers is suing, since St. John’s taught him well. Continue reading
The story of Shon Hopwood is certainly an inspiring one…so far. While serving more than a decade in federal prison for a series of armed robberies, his time in the prison law library turned him into an expert in case law, and he pulled off a rare feat: a petition for certiori he prepared on behalf of a fellow prisoner successfully persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. Now Hopwood is out of prison, and is turning his life around. He has been working as a paralegal, he now has a family, and at 34, he plans to apply to law school.
It is likely that a law school will admit him, but not at all certain that any state bar would give him a license. Can a former bank robber pass the profession’s character requirement? Should he, no matter how good he is at writing Supreme Court briefs? Continue reading