Rooker-Feldman Strikes Again for a Florida Bar Applicant

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on April 26, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Florida Bar applicant's petition to have the state's Supreme Court superseded by the Eleventh Circuit failed a couple of days ago. The Eleventh Circuit declared that it had no authority to compel Florida's Supreme Court to do anything.

This is another bar applicant incident that has implicated the Rooker-Feldman doctrine.

Florida Bar Denial

Barbara Uberoi's application to become a member of the Florida Bar was denied by the state's Supreme Court after it found that she was less than candid about her Chapter 13 and refusal to pay back creditors. She responded to these allegations by writing to the Florida Board of Examiners, which recommended a conditional admission. The Florida Supreme Court refused to budge.

Uberoi sued Florida's Supreme Court in Federal Appeals Court (a move we're sure would definitely endure her to the state). She alleged violation of federal law under 11 (USC sec. 525 which prohibits governmental discrimination against a person soley on the basis of bankruptcy status. Additionally she also alleged a violation of her due process.

Rooker-Feldman and Due Process

The circuit case Rooker-Feldman stands for the rule that federal courts cannot adjudicate to overturn or invalidate state rules barring the admission of a bar applicant. This generally applies when the applicant in question is given an opportunity to respond to the allegations made against her justifying her denial.

In Uberoi's case, she happened to be her own worst enemy, although her denial would have probably happened despite her actions. Uberoi had actually written to the Board in order to respond to findings that her character was unfit to be an officer of the court. The circuit found that this satisfied the requisite due process.

Besides, even without Rooker, basic principles of sovereign immunity would preclude the circuit from enjoining the Supreme Court from doing anything. So, the circuit couldn't offer Oburoi relief, even if it wanted to.

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