Hoover v. Ronwin

LOCATION: Men’s Central Jail

DOCKET NO.: 82-1474
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 466 US 558 (1984)
ARGUED: Jan 16, 1984
DECIDED: May 14, 1984

Charles R. Hoover - on behalf of the Petitioner
Edward Ronwin - on behalf of Respondent, pro se
Lawrence G. Wallace - as amicus curiae supporting respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Hoover v. Ronwin

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 16, 1984 in Hoover v. Ronwin

Warren E. Burger:

I think you may proceed whenever you are ready, Mr. Hoover.

Charles R. Hoover:

Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court.

I believe it is very important for us to keep in mind exactly what this case is about, because many items in the brief deal with issues that are not really here.

I think Judge Ferguson, in the Court of Appeals in the dissent, very distinctly put it in the beginning of that, that this is, in effect, a case dealing with the subject of a male person who has been judicially determined to be mentally unable to engage in the practice of law in the State of Arizona, may still maintain a $2,200,000 damage action under the Federal antitrust laws against the Committee on Examination and Admission of the Arizona Supreme Court for failing to give him a passing grade on the state bar examination.

Looking at what the case is about, we are here contending that on at least four principal bases we should prevail, that is the committee members should not be subject to this kind of action.

Three of those are state action items.

The first is that we contend that we are involved in state action as the state, as the sovereign.

Secondly, failing that particular test in your view, that we are involved in state action as a subdivision of the state.

Thirdly, failing that, that we would be involved in state actions as a private party, although we do concur with the amicus position of the United States that that is not the case here, we are not private parties, although we certainly that they meet those tests... that we meet those tests.

Fourthly, that if there is no state action involved at all, then the Noerr-Pennington doctrine would apply insofar as antitrust matters are concerned.

The principal basis of the state action doctrine, as an exemption from the antitrust laws, is federalism.

I think something again ought to be kept in mind that taking the case as it is, as a pleadings case, and assuming that the members of the committee did all of the wrongful things that either the complaint alleges or that the briefs infer, the federal antitrust laws are not the basis upon which to redress this matter.

There are plenty of remedies available to Mr. Ronwin, to anyone in Mr. Ronwin's position, to in effect have his day in court, to have his merits as a lawyer determined, to have his claim in effect adjudicated.

In fact, we contend he has done just that by virtue of the fact that his admissions, on the very issues that we are talking about, have previously been determined by the State of Arizona.

In other words, these facts were presented to them, and they have been brought to this Court, not once, but he has gone to the State of Arizona on three different occasions and been turned down, and to this Court, from those three different occasions, on four different writs of certiorari in addition to this case.

So it is not a situation where we are dealing with any man's rights that have not had a fair chance to be adjudicated.

This is a case where we are dealing with what very chilling effect on state or state officers, state officials, you have by subjecting them to the pressures and the difficulties of facing a trial on merits and facts for some underlying purposes or reasons under the antitrust laws.

Our view basically is that under Parker versus Brown, which to us is the heart of the case, in fact that this is very much the heart of the case--

John Paul Stevens:

Mr. Hoover, may I ask you, assuming, and I know you, of course, deny the allegations in the complaint, but assume that the examiners did not set the exam schedules on the basis of competence to practice law, but they wanted to set the figure so low that very few new lawyers would be admitted to protect the existing bar from the competition of too many lawyers in the community, and the Plaintiff wanted to challenge that practice, which I assume may not well happen.

If he wanted to challenge such a practice, how should he do it other than by the antitrust laws?

Charles R. Hoover:

--First, Your Honor, we very much appreciate the fact that you recognize we deny having done that.

John Paul Stevens:

But we must assume it's true.

Charles R. Hoover:

We must assume it's true for this case because it is a pleadings case.

John Paul Stevens:

Right, so how does he challenge it?

Charles R. Hoover:

How does he do that; exactly the way he did it, and exactly the way that a case, the Met-Coal case, challenged a state statute in California, that is through some other proceeding in the state courts saying, look, the state should give me a license to practice, and if the method by which I am trying to get there is improper because of a violation of the antitrust laws, then I ought to get my license.

That is exactly an issue that he presented in May of 1974 to the Arizona Supreme Court, and they denied it, and he brought the case here on a writ of certiorari and in doing so, he took the very same basis... the very same basis that he contended was the basis of the antitrust claim.

Although he did not present the antitrust claim to this Court in August of 1974, he brought these same grounds here in a writ of certiorari and he said--

John Paul Stevens:

Do you argue res judicata?

Charles R. Hoover:

--That is an alternate ground, Your Honor, that has been suggested for the first time in these proceedings in the brief of the amicus United States as a basis that the case could be disposed on if it were returned to the court below.

I am answering your question--