FPOC Files Brief in Support of Bar Applicants’ Private Information

Update from FPOC

For People of Color, Inc. Files Amicus Curiae Brief In Support of The State Bar of California’s Protection of Bar Applicants’ Private Information

March 6, 2012 – Los Angeles, California – For People of Color, Inc. (“FPOC”) filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of California in support of the State Bar of California’s efforts to protect the privacy interests of all bar applicants. In Sander v. State Bar of California, Plaintiffs are improperly seeking the following private and extremely sensitive information of all bar applicants from 1972 to 2007: (1) race, (2) law school, (3) whether the applicant is a transfer student, (4) year of law school graduation, (5) total raw score on first bar exam, (6) total scaled score in first bar exam, (7) raw MBE score, (8) scaled MBE score, (9) raw essay score, (10) scaled essay score, (11) raw performance test score, (12) scaled performance test score, (13) bar passage, (14) law school GPA, (15) LSAT score, and (16) undergraduate GPA.

FPOC, whose membership includes current and prospective members of the State Bar of California (“State Bar”) from all ethnic and racial backgrounds, filed its brief to support the State Bar’s efforts to protect bar applicants’ private data. The State Bar, which is governed by the Supreme Court of California, has repeatedly assured bar applicants that their private information, which they are required to provide in order to seek admission to the State Bar, would not be disclosed. In its brief, FPOC argues: “The State Bar’s promises of confidentiality reconfirm the constitutional right of applicants to control the dissemination of their personal information. Applicants have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the information at issue based on the State Bar’s promises of confidentiality, which must be honored to preserve the integrity of the State Bar and the judiciary overall. Applicants’ reasonable expectation of privacy is also supported by the State Bar’s longstanding pattern of nondisclosure of applicants’ records. The State Bar has never released applicants’ private information to members of the public and there is no reason why it should be compelled to start now.”

Anthony Solana, Jr., FPOC’s president and chairperson, states: “This is an important case because disclosure of this sensitive information will potentially expose all bar applicants to irreversible invasions of their constitutionally protected privacy interests, despite clear promises of confidentiality made by the State Bar. I am extremely grateful to our wonderful team of attorneys. They spent countless hours to ensure that our membership’s interests were presented to the Court.”

The law firms of Perkins Coie LLP and Lim, Ruger & Kim, LLP represented FPOC. In particular, Sunita Bali, Norma Nava, and Vilma Palma-Solana were primarily responsible for drafting FPOC’s amicus curiae brief.

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