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Law student w/ felony record and Skadden fellowship fails C&F

Geez, this is a tough one. "Tarra Simmons, a third-year lawyer205/19/17
Another layer of the scam triplesix05/19/17
http://jdunderground.com/all/thread .php?threadId=131965 anonattempt05/19/17
Aw my bad, didn't see that one. lawyer205/19/17
It is a tough one. On the one hand, she got addicted to drug onehell05/19/17
I agree. I had substance abuse issues going into C&F and I h lawyer205/19/17
She was also stealing drugs she had access to due to her pos anonattempt05/19/17
That is a good point. We don't know the whole story, but I lawyer205/19/17
Right, I would agree. I think it was something like a 6-3 d anonattempt05/19/17
So true! I had an informal hearing and the Committee asked m lawyer205/19/17
Yes. I represented a state agency for C&F related denials an downwardslope05/20/17
Yeah, just what we need, more pointless hoops and burdens to adamb05/21/17
I know a lawyer who is a lifetime registered sex offender fo fettywap05/19/17
In an off note, I would like represent applicants. I think I redemptionsong05/20/17
"She was also stealing drugs she had access to due to her po inho2solo05/20/17
I don't, that was my assumption. Started as a hypothetical anonattempt05/20/17
Thanks. I suspect this ABA Journal article (which I think is inho2solo05/21/17
People like this should be able to get a character and fitne bostonlawyer.205/21/17
I think FL allows you to do your C&F after 1L. That would at downwardslope05/21/17
lawyer2 (May 19, 2017 - 12:12 pm)

Geez, this is a tough one.

"Tarra Simmons, a third-year law student, convicted felon and former drug addict who in December won a Skadden Fellowship to help people recently released from prison, did not have her character and fitness review approved by the Washington State Bar Association. . . "


http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/law_student_with_felony_record_and_skadden_fellowship_denied_character_and/?utm_source=maestro&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weekly_email

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triplesix (May 19, 2017 - 12:13 pm)

Another layer of the scam

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anonattempt (May 19, 2017 - 12:39 pm)

http://jdunderground.com/all/thread.php?threadId=131965

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lawyer2 (May 19, 2017 - 2:18 pm)

Aw my bad, didn't see that one.

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onehell (May 19, 2017 - 12:45 pm)

It is a tough one. On the one hand, she got addicted to drugs while a registered nurse, and we all know that abuse of authority as a licensed professional is a very different thing than youthful indiscretion. On the other hand, there is a pretty big national movement around "fair chance" for people with criminal records, as well as wide acceptance of the "disease model" of addiction. EEOC takes the position, for example, that discrimination by employers against people with substance abuse issues in remission is a form of disability discrimination.

Personally, I think we should have graduated law licenses. Like you can practice only under supervision and cannot have responsibility for a client trust account until you have X hours of experience and obtain a special additional certification, perhaps even a practice-area-specific certification like how a primary care doc can't up and decide to do brain surgery one day. It's easy to imagine the problems she could cause if she relapses and raids the client trust account, or blows a bunch of critical deadlines, but she should be fine to work at some government agency or firm where she'd be supervised and wouldn't have control of client funds.

Heck, no other profession I know of lets you hang a shingle right out of school anyway. The dangers of an addict practicing with no oversight are much different than just being an associate in a firm or working for a government agency or whatever. Heck, all lawyers should have to have like 2000 supervision hours and get like a provisional, non-independent license until then. It would largely vitiate the need to even have debates in cases like if people had to prove themselves in practice before they could go out on their own. A lot of the C&F risk is associated with the fact that you can hang a shingle or enter into an "eat what you kill" type of arrangement right out of school which frankly, no one should do.

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lawyer2 (May 19, 2017 - 2:21 pm)

I agree. I had substance abuse issues going into C&F and I had to show them demonstrable proof of my "sustained rehabilitation" and even then, I got conditional admission. A year of random UA's, counseling, and attending relapse prevention counseling/meetings.

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anonattempt (May 19, 2017 - 2:25 pm)

She was also stealing drugs she had access to due to her position as a nurse and selling those drugs illegally (also notable that she seems to have been fully employed and selling drugs for the extra cash). And she had access to the drugs for personal use, so she didn't need the money to buy the drugs. It's not just that she may or may not have been addicted to drugs and could possibly experience a relapse. She was also arrested for illegal possession of a firearm. I mean, this sounds more Scarface than addict-stealing-to-support-their-addiction... Granted, I could see giving someone a pass if it seemed like they had reformed, but to make this a substance abuse case only is not really a fair assessment.

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lawyer2 (May 19, 2017 - 2:36 pm)

That is a good point.
We don't know the whole story, but I wonder what type of corrective behavior she demonstrated. In my experience, rehabilitation and remorse is what C&F committees are looking for.

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anonattempt (May 19, 2017 - 2:38 pm)

Right, I would agree. I think it was something like a 6-3 decision by the board, so there is obv some room to disagree w/r/t to her case.

And I watched her video in the OP link. She seems to essentially blame her actions on a rough childhood and bad family influences, and she explains how prison and treatment has enabled her to overcome those demons so it won't happen again. She also focuses on explaining her addiction at the expense of discussing her felony theft conviction, as if her felony theft conviction was the natural consequence of the addiction.

Personally, I would rather hear someone say, "What I did was wrong, and I am responsible for my actions."

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lawyer2 (May 19, 2017 - 3:01 pm)

So true! I had an informal hearing and the Committee asked me about a specific incident and I simply explained that my actions were stupid and I'm deeply embarrassed by them. The Committee member opined how refreshing it was to hear that.

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downwardslope (May 20, 2017 - 2:24 pm)

Yes. I represented a state agency for C&F related denials and lack of remorse was one of the biggest reasons why the agency official I worked with denied people. If they were remorseful and accepted responsibility for their actions, that would go a long way.

That said, what this woman did was pretty severe and might not be approvable. When someone uses their position to allow them to engage in illegal activity for financial gain, that goes way beyond just falling into a cycle of addiction. I know we would have asked what is to stop this person from doing the same thing in this position? If decades had passed and there was clear signs of remorse, that would be one thing, but if a person blames others and doesn't take responsibility, they would definitely be denied due to lack of rehabilitation. Usually in those cases, we were upheld in the administrative proceeding if a hearing was requested.

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adamb (May 21, 2017 - 4:00 pm)

Yeah, just what we need, more pointless hoops and burdens to entering a profession or career that requires tons of school and testing just because of the rare lowest denominators.

Americans need to stop with this line of reasoning for everything.

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fettywap (May 19, 2017 - 2:34 pm)

I know a lawyer who is a lifetime registered sex offender for raping a minor in his early 20s. The first state let him take the bar, then told him he wouldn't be admitted after he passed it. Texas let him in though......

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redemptionsong (May 20, 2017 - 12:28 pm)

In an off note, I would like represent applicants. I think I could do a pretty good job of it. How to enter the market? Maybe go chill out at the bar and have some drinks with the lemmings? Nah, probably just have me known as the "creepy old one." Anyone do this type of work and feel like sharing?

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inho2solo (May 20, 2017 - 3:03 pm)

"She was also stealing drugs she had access to due to her position as a nurse and selling those drugs illegally"


Do you have anything to support this? I saw it mentioned in a story about year ago (when she got the fellowship), but the more recent news articles all specifically state she did not steal meds from the hospital.
(Unhelpfully, though, not one I've seen explains to what the "felony theft" charge related.)

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anonattempt (May 20, 2017 - 4:58 pm)

I don't, that was my assumption. Started as a hypothetical and I guess got engrained in my mind. Other the felony theft charge, her position as a nurse, the board of nursing's enforcement action against her, and that the drug she was selling was oxycodone. If you can link an article that says she was not taking the drugs from the hospital, please do.

I just found an article that says this: "She was a nurse before she was arrested, and having never been accused of wrongdoing at work or stealing medications she worked over the phone and didn't have direct contact with patients she kept her license."

The whole thing is weird to me, but according to that article she was never charged with stealing meds... http://archive.kitsapsun.com/news/former-inmate-goes-to-law-school-to-help-other-ex-cons-308c2f95-a676-3641-e053-0100007f6852-375961071.html

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inho2solo (May 21, 2017 - 8:39 am)

Thanks. I suspect this ABA Journal article (which I think is one of the ones i had in mind) was actually quoting the the same story you linked because they use the same "not accused of wrongdoing at work" type language.
http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/former_inmate_attends_law_school_earns_a_skadden_fellowship_to_help_other_c

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bostonlawyer.2 (May 21, 2017 - 10:20 am)

People like this should be able to get a character and fitness opinion from the bar they want to take before they go law school and spend $250k.

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downwardslope (May 21, 2017 - 4:34 pm)

I think FL allows you to do your C&F after 1L. That would at least save some money.

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