United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
MARK A. BROOKS-ALBRECHTSEN, Plaintiff,
INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS OF THE INDIANA STATE BOARD OF LAW EXAMINERS et al., Defendants.
ENTRY REGARDING JURISDICTION
WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, JUDGE.
Court, by separate order, granted the Plaintiff's motion
for leave to file a second amended complaint. See
Dkt. No. 36. The Court now reviews the Plaintiff's Second
Amended Complaint, Dkt. No. 37, to determine whether it has
jurisdiction over the claims therein.
following facts are taken from the allegations in the
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, Dkt. No. 37, and
the Indiana Supreme Court's order in In re the
Application of M.B., Case No. 94S00-1602-BL-89 (Ind.
Feb. 16, 2016), Dkt. No. 17.
Plaintiff, Mark A. Brooks-Albrechtsen, graduated from a law
school in Ohio in May 2015. He moved to Indiana and applied
to take the Indiana bar examination in July 2015. On May 19,
2015, the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners (the
“Board”), pursuant to the Indiana Rules of Court,
Rules for Admission to the Bar and the Discipline of
Attorneys (the “Admission and Discipline Rules”),
required the Plaintiff to appear before it for inquiry into
his character and fitness. The Board required the Plaintiff
to answer questions regarding a sealed misdemeanor conviction
and a prior employment termination, both of which he had
disclosed on his bar application. Following the
Plaintiff's appearance, the Board approved his
application to take the July 2015 bar examination, which he
Plaintiff applied to take the bar examination again in 2016.
In his application for the February examination, he disclosed
that he was “self-employed by Albrechtsen Law, a
limited liability corporation” and that he drafted
complaints, memos, and briefs, and performed legal research
for licensed attorneys. Dkt. No. 37 at ¶ 23. The Board
sent the Plaintiff a notice on January 29, 2016, informing
him that, to allow it to make a determination on his
application, he would have to appear before the Board. The
appearance request stated, in relevant part:
Admission and Discipline Rule 12 requires the State Board of
Law Examiners to certify to the Indiana Supreme Court that
applicants for admission to the bar have the requisite good
moral character and fitness to practice law. In order for the
Board to make a determination on your application, it will be
necessary for you to personally appear before the Board at
its upcoming meeting.
Id. at ¶ 17. The Plaintiff emailed the Board
seeking additional information regarding the appearance. The
Board responded, indicating only that it had
“‘questions about [the Plaintiff's]
application.'” Id. at ¶ 20. It did
not provide him with additional detail.
January 31, 2016, the Plaintiff sent a letter to Indiana
Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush asking that
Admission and Discipline Rule 12 Section 5 be amended to
require a more detailed notice that would allow individuals
required to appear before the Board to better prepare for
their appearances. In his letter, the Plaintiff stated that
he had “no idea why the Board has commanded [his]
appearance, and upon inquiry, the Board declines to provide
any information whatsoever regarding the subject-matter of
the meeting.” Id. at ¶ 27. On February 5,
2016, Chief Justice Rush informed the Plaintiff that she
“‘sent an inquiry to the Board of Law Examiners
as to the issues [the Plaintiff] set forth [in his January
31, 2016, letter].'” Id. at ¶ 22.
Plaintiff appeared before the Board on February 12, 2016, and
was permitted to answer questions posed to him by the Board,
but “was not given any opportunity to put on a defense,
make any statements, examine his accusers, or make any
arguments.” Id. at ¶ 29. The Board and
the Plaintiff discussed the Plaintiff's letter to Chief
Justice Rush and his current employment through his company,
Albrechtsen Law. The Board believed that the Plaintiff's
statement to Chief Justice Rush (“I have no idea why
the Board has commanded my appearance”) was false and
that he violated Rule of Professional Conduct Guideline 9.1
while self-employed through Albrechtsen law. As a result, the
Board issued a verbal decision at the meeting, declining to
let the Plaintiff take the February 2016 bar examination and
prohibiting him from reapplying for bar admission until
his appearance before the Board, the Plaintiff filed an
“Emergency Petition for Writ of Prohibition” to
the Indiana Supreme Court because he understood the
Board's verbal denial to be a final action as described
in Admission and Discipline Rule 14 Section 2. See Dkt.
No. 31 at 2. He sought to have the Board's decision
overturned so that he could sit for the February 2016 bar
examination. In response, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an
order on February 16, 2016, dismissing the Plaintiff's
petition as procedurally premature. See Dkt. No. 17.
It explained that “pursuant to Admission and Discipline
Rule 12, section 7,  M.B. would have the right to file a
written request with the Board for a formal hearing
concerning its determination” and that “there has
been no final action of the Board because the hearing
mentioned in [Admission and Discipline] Rule 12, sections 7
and 9, has not occurred and a final determination thereafter
has not been made by the Board.” Id.
February 15, 2016, a day before the Indiana Supreme Court
issued its order, the Board provided the Plaintiff with
written confirmation of its February 12, 2016, meeting
decision. The Board determined, in part, as follows:
After careful and deliberate consideration, the Board
determined that you have failed to sustain the burden of
proof that you possess the requisite character and fitness to
be admitted to the practice of law. As a result, the Board
has denied your application to sit for the bar examination
and to practice law in the state of Indiana. The Board
further determined, based upon the facts presented, that you
shall not be permitted to reapply for admission to the
Indiana Bar until the February 2018 examination . . . As a
result of the Board's determination, you will not be
permitted to take the bar examination and your application
has therefore been denied and dismissed.
Dkt. No. 37 at ¶ 35.
February 18, 2016, the Plaintiff filed suit in this Court,
alleging that the individual members of the Board in their
official capacities violated his equal protection and due
process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Plaintiff
filed an amended complaint on February 24, 2016, which the
Defendants moved to dismiss.
Plaintiff also timely requested a hearing before the Board
pursuant to Admission and Discipline Rule 12 sections 7 and
9. The request was served on the Board on February 29, 2016.
The Plaintiff did not hear any further from the ...