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Undocumented Immigrant Is Not Disqualified from Practicing Law, Florida Bar Says

| August 8, 2012

Jose Manuel Godinez Samperio advocating for the Dream Act last year in Washington. (MSNBC)

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners has found no “good moral character and fitness issues” that would disqualify Jose Manuel Godinez Samperio, an undocumented immigrant, from being admitted to practice law in Florida, but is still waiting for an opinion from the Florida Supreme Court before making a decision.

In a court filing on Tuesday, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners notified the Supreme Court that it determined last month that there were no such character issues that would automatically disqualify Jose Godinez-Samperio from practicing law, though it cautioned that it’s possible, though unlikely, something could still come to light.

But, the board also notified lawyers representing Godinez-Samperio that a final decision will wait until the state Supreme Court weighs in.

“It is anticipated that you will be notified of the board’s final action after the Supreme Court decision on the pending Request for Advisory Opinion” the Bar board said in its letter to Godinez-Samperio’s main lawyer, Talbot “Sandy” D’Alemberte back on July 20. “If additional adverse information is received, the board will reopen its investigation.”

The letter was made public when it was sent Tuesday to the Supreme Court to be added to the record in the case.

Initially, the Bar had denied Godinez-Samperio’s application to the Bar, even though he graduated from a Florida law school and passed the Bar exam.

In another filing Tuesday, the Board of Bar Examiners also acknowledged that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s recently announced change in policy regarding children brought to the country illegally likely has some bearing on the issue.

The Obama Administration announced in June that immigrants under 30 who arrived in the country as children, who otherwise have no criminal history and who have served in the military or graduated from high school, would be allowed to remain in the country and work.


That would appear to apply to Godinez-Samperio, who was brought to the U.S. from Mexico on a visitors’ visa when he was 9. His parents overstayed their visas and the family never returned, his veterinarian father becoming a farm hand and his mother, a dentist, working in a factory. He grew up in the Tampa area.

After the recent change in policy by Homeland Security, Godinez-Samperio filed a motion asking that that new policy be taken into account.

In its filing on Tuesday, the Board of Bar Examiners acknowledged that the Homeland Security policy change was “relevant to the case at hand,” though it also said that Godinez-Samperio’s lawyers went against court rules in his motion, making arguments on why the new Homeland Security position should be taken into account, when appellate procedure rules prohibit such arguments.

The Supreme Court has given no timeline for when it might offer an advisory opinion in the case.

–David Royse, News Service of Florida

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3 Responses for “Undocumented Immigrant Is Not Disqualified from Practicing Law, Florida Bar Says”

  1. Outsider says:

    Seriously?

  2. emma says:

    Really? This country is a joke! We are immigrants her on a work visa that was very hard and very expensive to get, yet my daughter cannot even take a cosmetology exam because of a lack of ssn, and cannot work until our green card process is completed and she is issued one. Yet illegal immigrants get to practise law? How did he pay for his law school then? It’s a disgrace…The Government needs to take a long hard look at its immigration process and fix that broken system instead of giving all these rights to people that skip the line and decide to do it all illegally.

  3. Outsider says:

    Emma, he probably got a scholarship, or in-state tuition at least. Welcome to America!

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