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Kovrak v. Ginsburg

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS THIRD CIRCUIT.


decided: June 16, 1960.

STEPHEN J. KOVRAK, APPELLANT,
v.
S. REGEN GINSBURG, CHAIRMAN, ROBERT F. LEHMAN, GEORGE P. WILLIAMS, 3D, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE ON AUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF THE LAW, ACTING FOR, ON BEHALF OF AND BY AUTHORITY OF THE PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION; AND CURTIS BOK, GERALD F. FLOOD AND LOUIS E. LEVINTHAL, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS JUDGES OF COMMON PLEAS COURT NO. 6 OF PHILADELPHIA COUNTY.

Author: Goodrich

Before GOODRICH, McLAUGHLIN and STALEY, Circuit Judges.

GOODRICH, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania which ordered the appellant's name stricken from the roll of attorneys licensed to practice in that Court. The case was originally heard by seven judges of that Court and the order referred to was unanimously approved by them. Exceptions were filed by the appellant and argued before Judge Clary, the writer of the original opinion. In each instance an opinion was written. See D.C.E.D.Pa.1959, 177 F.Supp. 614; D.C.E.D.Pa.1959, 179 F.Supp. 156.*fn1

The above procedure does not prove that the court was right, but it does show that Mr. Kovrak's matter had careful attention not only from one but from several experienced judges.

In the presentation of the case to this Court the action of the district court is characterized as a "disbarment proceeding." It is no such thing. Mr. Kovrak's name has not been stricken from the list of attorneys because of unprofessional or otherwise improper conduct. It was dropped from the list because he was not qualified for admission to the bar of the court at the time his application was made and his admission granted.

Mr. Kovrak was admitted to the bar of the District Court of the District of Columbia on October 12, 1943. He was admitted to the bar of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on December 6, 1943, and to the bar of the United States Supreme Court March 17, 1947.

At the time of his admission to the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, October 15, 1943, his sponsor stated that Kovrak fulfilled the requirements of the court for admission. That was an erroneous statement. At that time the admission rule of the district court read as follows:

"ADMISSION RULE III.

"Attorney and Counsel.

"Sec. 1. No person shall be admitted to practice as counsel or attorney of this court, unless he shall have previously been admitted in the Supreme Court of a State,*fn2 or the Supreme Court of the United States; and satisfactory evidence of moral character will also be required. He shall take the following oath or affirmation, to wit: 'I do swear that I will demean myself, as an attorney of this court, uprightly and according to law; and that I will support the Constitution of the United States.'

"Sec. 2. Attorneys and counsellors-at-law, who have been admitted and are entitled to practice as such in the Supreme Court of the United States, shall be deemed members of the bar of this court, and shall have the same rights and privileges therein, as such, as if they had been regularly admitted in this court.*fn3

"Sec. 3. No attorney shall be accepted as security for costs, nor as bail of any kind.

"Sec. 4. Attorneys and Counsellors-at-Law, admitted to practice in this Court, who are not residents of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and who do not maintain an office in said District for the regular transation of business, shall, in each case or proceeding in which they appear, have a resident associate counsel who maintains an office in said District, upon whom all notices, rules and pleadings may be served in accordance with the rules and practice of this Court, and who may be required to attend before the Court, Clerk, Commissioners, Auditors, Assignees, Trustees, Referees or other officer of the Court, or before Notaries Public in cases where testimony may be taken before them in accordance with the rules and practice of the Court. The attendance of said Associate Counsel shall be a sufficient appearance for the party or parties whom they so represent."

Mr. Kovrak did not qualify for admission under this Rule since he had not, on October 15, 1943 "previously been admitted in the Supreme Court of a State, or the Supreme Court of the United States." Therefore, his admission was mistaken and the district court was correct in directing that his name be removed from the list. Whether subsequent changes in the rules or subsequent admissions of Mr. Kovrak to other federal courts now qualify him for admission is a question which is not before us now and was not before the district court at the time. The simple point is that when he was admitted he was not qualified.

This is all there is to the case. There was some suggestion that there was a practice of admitting members of the bar of all other United States District Courts even though such admission did not conform to the written rule.*fn4 But the word "suggestion" is used advisedly. There was no support in fact for it and none tendered.

The judgment of the district court will be affirmed.


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