Overview of Character and Fitness Process
The Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Admissions Committee (“LPP Admissions Committee” or “Committee”) will meet as necessary to review Applicant files and establish any files that will necessitate a character and fitness investigation. An Applicant whose record manifests a significant deficiency in honesty, trustworthiness, diligence, or reliability can be denied admission on character and fitness grounds. The Applicant has the burden of proof to establish by clear and convincing evidence his or her fitness to practice law. Applicants must be approved by the Committee prior to sitting for the LPP Examination. At any time before being admitted to the Bar, the Committee may withdraw or modify its approval.
At the discretion of the Committee, an Applicant may be required to attend an investigative interview conducted by one or more members of the Committee members. The investigative interview will be informal, but the Applicant has the right to counsel and is notified in writing of the general factual areas of inquiry. Documentary evidence may be provided as part of the investigation, but no witnesses are permitted to appear during the interview. The interview is a closed proceeding.
After an investigative interview has been conducted, the Applicant is notified regarding whether he or she has been approved to sit for the LPP Examination. Applicants who are not approved are notified about the areas that are of concern to the Committee. Or, the Committee may determine that an Applicant must take corrective action before approval of his or her application can be granted. The Applicant is notified in writing of the action required.
In matters where the Committee decides to convene, or an Applicant so requests, the Committee will hold a formal hearing. The formal hearing is a closed proceeding and may be scheduled whether or not preceded by an investigative interview.
A formal hearing will be attended by no fewer than three Committee members. Notice is sent to the Applicant. The notice will include a statement of the preliminary factual matters of concern. The matters inquired into at the hearing are not limited to those identified in the notice but may include any concerns relevant to a determination related to the Applicant's character and fitness.
The formal hearing will have a complete stenographic record made by a certified court reporter or an electronic record made by means acceptable in the courts of the State of Utah. All testimony will be taken under oath. Although no formal rules of evidence or civil procedure will apply, an Applicant has the right to counsel, the right to cross-examine witnesses, the right to examine the evidence and the right to present witnesses and documentary evidence. An Applicant is entitled to make reasonable use of the Bar's subpoena powers to compel attendance of witnesses and to adduce relevant evidence relating to matters adverse to the Applicant.
Written findings of fact and conclusions of law will be issued no later than 45 calendar days after the formal hearing and any subsequent inquiries have been concluded.
CHARACTER AND FITNESS APPEAL
An Applicant has the right to have the Utah Supreme Court review a decision made after a formal hearing as set forth in these Rules. A decision after a formal hearing is a prerequisite to Supreme Court review. An Applicant must file a written request for Board review with the Bar's General Counsel within ten (10) calendar days of the date of notice of the Committee decision. A panel of three (3) Board members will review the decision. The review shall be a closed proceeding and will be limited to consideration of the record produced in the formal hearing including a certified copy of the transcript of the formal hearing, the Applicant's memorandum, if any, and the Bar's responsive memorandum, if any. An Applicant's appearance at the Board review will be permitted only if the review panel deems it necessary.
(a) After filing a written request for Board review, an Applicant may file a written memorandum identifying the Applicant's objections to the decision of the LPP Admissions Committee. The issues in the memorandum must be limited to matters contained in the record. The memorandum must be filed within thirty (30) calendar days of the filing of the request for Board review. The Bar may file a response, but no reply memorandum will be permitted.
(b) The decision of the Character and Fitness Committee shall be affirmed if there is substantial and credible evidence to support it. To meet his or her burden of proof, the Applicant must cite to the record and show that the evidence did not support the decision.
(c) An Applicant is responsible for paying for and obtaining a duly certified copy of the transcript of formal hearing proceedings or other electronic record copy as described in Rule 15-715(d)(1).
(d) An Applicant must demonstrate that any errors of law, fact or procedure formed a basis for denial or approval. Harmless error does not constitute a basis to set aside the decision.
(e) The Board panel shall issue a final written decision within thirty (30) calendar days of completing its review.
SUPREME COURT APPEAL. Rule 15-715(e).
(e) Supreme Court appeal. Within 30 calendar days of the date on the panel's written decision, the Applicant may appeal to the Supreme Court by filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the Supreme Court and serving a copy upon the General Counsel for the Bar. At the time of filing the notice of appeal, the Applicant shall pay the prescribed filing fee to the clerk of the Supreme Court. The clerk will not accept a notice of appeal unless the filing fee is paid.
(e)(1) Record of proceedings. A record of the proceedings shall be prepared by the Bar and shall be filed with the clerk of the Supreme Court within 21 calendar days following the filing of the notice of appeal.
(e)(2) Appeal petition. An appeal petition shall be filed with the Supreme Court 30 calendar days after a record of the proceedings has been filed with the Supreme Court. The appeal petition shall state the name of the petitioner and shall designate the Bar as respondent. The appeal petition must contain the following:
(e)(2)(A) a statement of the issues presented, and the relief sought;
(e)(2)(B) a statement of the facts necessary to an understanding of the issues presented by the appeal;
(e)(2)(C) the legal argument supporting the petitioner's request; and
(e)(2)(D) a certificate reflecting service of the appeal petition upon the General Counsel.
(e)(3) Format of appeal and response petitions. Except by permission of the Court, the appeal petition and the Bar's response shall contain no more than 14,000 words or, if it uses a monospaced face, it shall contain no more than 1,300 lines of text.
(e)(4) Response petition. Within 30 calendar days after service of the appeal petition on the Bar, the Bar, as respondent, shall file its response with the clerk of the Supreme Court. At the time of filing, a copy of the response shall be served upon the petitioner. No reply memorandum will be permitted.
(e)(5) The clerk of the Supreme Court will notify the parties if any additional briefing or oral argument is permitted. Upon entry of the Supreme Court's decision, the clerk shall give notice of the decision.