I’ve written about Michelle Obama’s “surrendered” law license several times – the last time in November 2009. We have both a President and First Lady who went through law school only to “voluntarily surrender” their license a few years later. To say that’s odd is an understatement. We are 40-some days away from the election. Let’s look at this again and start with Michelle and the ARDC Rule(s) under which she became inactive.
The Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois (ARDC) is keeper of records. Sometime around the time Michelle’s license went inactive, the Rules of the ARDC changed.
Note that Michelle is on “court ordered inactive status.”
The popular story is that Michelle voluntarily gave up her license and went inactive, maybe because she just didn’t plan to practice law in the future, or something of that nature. The story further goes that she can restore that license and go active at any time she wants to do so. Note that the form is titled “Registration and Public Disciplinary Record.”
Michelle Obama became inactive through ARDC Rule 771 in 1993. Rule 771 was titled Code of Professional Responsibility.
Rule 756 became effective February 1, 1973. This rule is titled Registration and Fees. Rule 756 is the vehicle for becoming voluntarily inactive, for whatever reason you want to do so, unless you have reason to be considered under Rule 753 – review and hearings.
April 1, 2004, approximately 11 years after the First Lady went inactive in 1993 under Rule 771, and the same year Barack Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate, some “reorganizing” of the rules happened…ome serious “reorganizing” of rules. She was inactive first under the Code of Professional Responsibility, later retitled Finality of Orders and Effective Date of Discipline, then renumbered and titled Rules of Professional Conduct.
Rule 771 became Rule 770 which did not exist before April 1, 2004.
Rule 771 was originally titled Code of Professional Responsibility
Rule 771 was retitled Finality of Orders and Effective Date of Discipline
Rule 770 was birthed and was titled Rules of Professional Conduct
Rule 770 covered disbarment, suspension, censure, reprimand
It appears that the Finality of Orders and Effective Date of Discipline were separated from Types of Discipline.
If you were “voluntarily inactive” pursuant to former Rule 770 see Rule 756(7), you must make a “petition for restoration” under Rule 759, and your petition must be reviewed by the Administrator – I assume because Rule 770 covers only disbarment, suspension, censure, reprimand. The Administrator decides to consent to the application or refer it to the Hearing Board. If go inactive under 771 770, you cannot become active again without hierarchal consideration. That is not the case for normal restoration procedure.
Rule 753 “hearing and review” appears to be the first step before disciplinary action.
Rule 759 pertains to those attorneys inactive due to “disability” or “hearing and review” (Rule 753). Rule 759 says that if an attorney is restored to active status under Rule 759, which is not the normal route to restoration, any “disciplinary proceedings pending against the attorney may be resumed.
Both 771 and 770 deals with professional responsibility and professional conduct. Neither dealt with voluntarily going inactive, simply because an attorney chooses to do so. That would be under Rule 756.
My guess is that Michelle Robinson Obama gave up her license rather than go through some type of investigative review which might become public. And if this is not the case, then what? Why not Rule 756?
In August, World Net Daily interviewed a deputy administrator and chief council for the ARDC. He says Michelle went inactive under Rule 770, but…Rule 770 didn’t exist in 1994. The following is from the ARDC today:
Rule 770. Reserved
Rule 771 770. Types of Discipline
Conduct of attorneys which violates the Code of Professional Responsibility Rules of Professional Conduct contained in article VIII of these rules or which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute shall be grounds for discipline by the court. Discipline of attorneys may be:
(b) disbarment on consent;
(c) suspension for a specified period and until further order of court;
(d) suspension for a specified period of time;
(e) suspension until further order of the court;
(f) suspension for a specified period of time or until further order of the court with probation;
(g) censure; or
(h) reprimand by the court, the Review Board or a hearing panel.
Adopted May 26, 1978, effective July 1, 1978; amended June 3, 1980, effective July 1, 1980; amended August 9, 1983, effective October 1, 1983; amended October 13, 1989, effective immediately; amended and renumbered March 23, 2004, effective April 1, 2004.
(March 23, 2004)
Effective April 1, 2004, former Rule 771 (“Types of Discipline”) was renumbered as Rule 770 and a new Rule 771 (“Finality of Orders and Effective Date of Discipline”) was adopted.
Rule 771. Finality of Orders and Effective Date of Discipline
(a) Finality. All orders imposing discipline pursuant to these rules, except orders entered in cases that were accepted by the court for further consideration pursuant to Rule 753(e)(5)(a)(iii), are final when filed by the clerk of the court, and the mandates in all such cases shall issue at the time the orders are filed. No petition for rehearing pursuant to Rule 367 may be filed in such a case, nor will any motion or other paper submitted after an order is filed automatically stay or recall the court’s mandate. The finality of orders imposing discipline entered in cases accepted by the court for further consideration pursuant to Rule 753(e)(5)(a)(iii) shall be governed by Rules 367 and 368.
(b) Effective Date. Unless otherwise ordered by the court or unless governed by Rules 367 and 368, all orders of discipline are effective when filed by the clerk of the court, except that orders of suspension for a specified period of time which do not continue until further order of court or any orders of suspension which are stayed, in part, by a period of probation become effective 21 days after the date they are filed by the clerk of the court.
(c) Interim Suspension. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, all interim suspension orders imposed under Rule 761 or Rule 774 and all subsequent disciplinary orders entered while the lawyer is on interim suspension are effective when filed by the clerk of the court.
Adopted March 23, 2004, effective April 1, 2004.
(March 23, 2004)
Effective April 1, 2004, a new Rule 771 (“Finality of Orders and Effective Date of Discipline”) was adopted and the former Rule 771 (“Types of Discipline”) was renumbered as Rule 770.
So what do you think happened? Hmmmm?
On to Barack Obama who surrendered his law license in 2008. We do not know under which ARDC Rule he went inactive.
“Voluntarily retired” — what does that mean? Bill Clinton hung onto his law license until he was convicted of making a false statement in the Lewinsky case and had to “Voluntarily Surrender” his license too.
This is the former editor of the Harvard Law Review who doesn’t seem to give a crap about his law license.
Something else odd; while the Search feature brings up the names, any seaches for the Disciplinary actions ends quicky.
As in, Too Quickly. Less than a half-second quickly on a Search Engine that can take five seconds to Search for anything.
As in, “there’s a block on that information” kind of thing.
So we have the first Lawyer President and First Lady — who don’t actually have licenses to practice law
756(5) An attorney may advise the Administrator in writing that he or she desires to assume inactive status and, thereafter, register as an inactive status attorney. The annual registration fee for an inactive status attorney shall be $105. Upon such registration, the attorney shall be placed upon inactive status and shall no longer be eligible to practice law or hold himself or herself out as being authorized to practice law in this state, except as is provided in paragraph (j) of this rule. An attorney who is on the master roll as an inactive status attorney may advise the Administrator in writing that he or she desires to resume the practice of law, and thereafter register as active upon payment of the registration fee required under this rule and submission of verification from the Director of MCLE that he or she has complied with MCLE requirements as set forth in Rule 790 et seq.756(9) Permanent Retirement Status. An attorney may file a petition with the court requesting that he or she be placed on permanent retirement status. All of the provisions of retirement status enumerated in Rule 756(a)(6) shall apply, except that an attorney who is granted permanent retirement status may not thereafter change his or her registration designation to active or inactive status, petition for reinstatement pursuant to Rule 767, or provide pro bono services as otherwise allowed under paragraph (j) of this rule.
More from March 2010, Doug Ross – To be (a lawyer) or not to be. Someone, anyone, explain why Michelle is not inactive under Rule 756. Photo credit: Gateway Pundit