For Immediate Release
Lana Chiariello, 305-573-1106, ext. 1080, firstname.lastname@example.org
Susana Barciela, 305-301-9762, email@example.com
The Florida Supreme Court heard argument Tuesday, October 2 as to whether Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio-a Florida Bar applicant with a long list of remarkable achievements-may be admitted to the bar in light of his current immigration status. In connection with Godinez-Samperio’s bar application, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners petitioned the Court for an advisory opinion as to “whether undocumented immigrants are eligible for admission to the Florida Bar.” The Court has designated the case as one of high profile.
Among other distinctions, Godinez-Samperio was valedictorian of Armwood Senior High in Seffner, attended New College of Florida, and graduated with honors from Florida State University College of Law. All along he was forthcoming concerning his immigration status, and was allowed to sit for the bar exam. He took and passed it on the first try.
In July, the Board of Bar Examiners formally determined that no character or fitness issues would disqualify Godinez-Samperio from being admitted to the Florida Bar. But despite meeting all the current qualifications for admission, the Board notified Godinez-Samperio that it would await the Court’s advisory opinion before rendering a final decision on his application.
In the meantime, Godinez-Samperio has applied for relief under the Department of Homeland Security’s new deferred-action-for-childhood-arrivals initiative, aimed at helping those like Godinez-Samperio stay in the country with permission to work. Godinez-Samperio arrived in the U.S. at the age of 9 and remained with his family after their tourist visa expired. Today Presidential-candidate Mitt Romney indicated that he would not cancel the relief granted under the program for those eligible.
Several groups filed amicus curiae briefs in support of Godinez-Samperio’s admission, including Americans for Immigrant Justice, the Dream Bar Association, and three former presidents of the American Bar Association. Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte, who represents Godinez-Samperio, formerly served as an ABA president, president of the Florida State University, and dean of Florida State’s law school.
“Jose Manuel has earned admission to the Florida Bar by all relevant measures and he should be admitted,” said Cheryl Little, Executive Director of Americans for Immigrant Justice. “Everyone can agree that this country wants and needs talented people who can make important contributions to our society. Jose Manuel and others like him fall squarely into that group,” Little added.
In its brief, AI Justice argued that no law or rule relating to bar admission would preclude the admission of qualified and deserving applicants based on immigration status. In a pending California case, the California Committee of Bar Examiners also has argued that no federal law would prohibit the conferral of a California law license because of immigration status.