In re Zipkin

LOCATION: Cleveland, Ohio

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962)

CITATION: 369 US 400 (1962)
ARGUED: Mar 28, 1962 / Mar 29, 1962
DECIDED: Apr 02, 1962

Facts of the case


Media for In re Zipkin

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 29, 1962 in In re Zipkin

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 28, 1962 in In re Zipkin

Earl Warren:

Number 288, in the matter of the determination of good moral character of Michael Zipkin, Petitioner.

Mr. Davis.

Heywood H. Davis:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This is a Schware, first, Konigsberg type case.

The issue is relatively clear-cut.

Whether commissioner -- whether petitioner has been denied permission to take the Missouri Bar Examination in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because there is no rational justification in the record for the finding of the Missouri Board of Law Examiners that petitioner is not a person of good moral character.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

There's no First Amendment --

Heywood H. Davis:

There is no First Amendment --

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

-- complication below is it?

Heywood H. Davis:

That's correct.

The facts are more involved.

In June of 1960 at the age of 25, petitioner, Michael Zipkin from Kansas City, graduated from the University of Missouri Law School.

He had previously been investigated twice as to his moral character by regional bar committees and twice found to be of good moral character, once, when he filed his law student registration form and, later, when he filed to take the Missouri Bar Examination.

He took the Missouri Bar in June of 1960 but did not pass.

While the papers were being graded, however, a complaint was raised against him and, when the results of the bar examination were announced, petitioner was advised that if he wanted to take a second bar exam, the Board would have to inquire further as to his character.

The petitioner advised the Board that he did want to take a second examination and the Board advised him that the hearing would be held and that the hearing would be particularly directed to the questions of whether he had held himself out as an attorney in connection with a certain divorce litigation between a Mr. and Mrs. Baurichter in Columbia, Missouri and whether he had influenced or attempted to influence witnesses at the hearing before the State Board of Healing Arts of a Dr. Freeman, a Columbia, Missouri psychiatrist.

The Board of Healing Arts --

John M. Harlan II:

There's no suggestion, I take it, that he was flunked on his examinations because a complaint had been filed against him.

Heywood H. Davis:

That is correct, Mr. Justice.

John M. Harlan II:

There's no suggestion of that kind.

Heywood H. Davis:

That is correct.

He failed the bar exam and this has to do only as to his moral character.

The State Board of Healing Arts hearing on Dr. Freeman was held in June of 1960 and resulted in Dr. Freeman's license being revoked for unprofessional conduct.

Petitioner's hearing was held in Columbia on October of 1960, as scheduled.

The witnesses who testified were six, the Board subpoenaed plus Mrs. Baurichter, the individual involved in the divorce litigation, and petitioner, himself.

Carl Sapp, the first Board witness, a Columbia, Missouri attorney, testified that he'd known petitioner casually for six or seven months.

That, while he was not acquainted with his reputation, “his conversation and conduct at the times that I have seen and talked to him have been above reproach and he has conducted himself as a gentleman in my presence” and, Mr. Sapp said that he would sign a character affidavit for petitioner.

Mr. Sapp also testified that he represented Dr. Freeman at his hearing, that he never requested petitioner to interview witnesses or obtain statements and that, to his knowledge, petitioner had never done so.

Mr. Sapp said the petitioner never played a part in the Freeman hearing.

Mr. Sapp also testified regarding events related to a divorce proceeding filed by his client, Mrs. Baurichter, who was a patient of Dr. Freeman's against her husband --