NAAMJP v. Holder Trial Order Analysis

This writing assignment is from my Intro to Judicial Clerkships class. The prompt was to summarize the facts and legal conclusions of the trial order in 2 pages as if I were a law clerk for a law firm.

The case was 14-cv-02110-RJC, NAAMJP v Eric Holder. The Trial Order can be found here

            The judge has issued an order in 14-cv-02110-RJC, NAAMJP v. Holder. In the trial court order, the judge granted the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and denied the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgement.

            On the issue of standing, the judge ruled that all the Plaintiffs did have standing to bring their lawsuit. He ruled that the individual Plaintiffs, the four attorneys, did have a “real, immediate, and direct” prospective injury because even though they did not apply for the Maryland Bar, they still would have been denied regardless of if they did. As such, NAAMJP has associational standing because “its members . . . have standing to sue in their own right; the interests it seeks to protect are germane to the organization’s purpose; and neither the claim asserted, nor the relief requested requires the participation of individual members in the lawsuit.”

            Regarding the Rules Enabling Act, the judge ruled in favor of the Defendants. The judge rejected Plaintiff’s interpretation of Section 2071 and 2072; instead, he ruled that Section 2071 applies to local rules issued by any federal court, whereas Section 2072 applies to the rules issued by the Supreme Court that apply to all federal courts. The judge further added that “the “substantive rights” clause in Section 2072(b) specifically pertains to the rights of the litigants’ [not] the rights of the legal practitioners.” Similarly, the judge ruled that Local Rule 701 does not violate FRCP 1 nor FRCP 83 because while Local Rule 701 is an “‘inconvenience’ for the attorney, it does not make litigation unjust, duplicative, or more expensive.”

            Regarding the Supremacy Clause, the judge ruled in favor of the Defendants by finding that Local Rule 701 does not violate the Supremacy Clause. While the judge upheld the ruling in Sperry and Augustine, he distinguished them from the present case by highlighting that the cited cases and the Supremacy Clause require state law to be at issue. The judge points out that Local Rule 701 is not state law and that the state bar licensing rules it adopts are also not state law. Because there is no state law at issue, the judge ruled that the Supremacy Clause was not violated.

            Regarding the First Amendment claims, the judge ruled in favor of the Defendants on all issues. Local Rule 701 is not substantially overbroad because “the rule serves a legitimate interest . . . [and] falls within the State’s proper sphere of economic and professional regulation.” Local Rule 701 is not an unconstitutional prior restraint because lawyers can be admitted by motion or by taking the Maryland bar exam. Local Rule 701 is not unlawful viewpoint and content discrimination because it “does not discriminate based upon the viewpoint of the attorneys.” Local Rule 701 does not suppress the First Amendment right to petition or the right to associate because it is not anti-competitive and there is no residency requirement.

            Regarding the Fifth Amendment claims, the judge ruled in favor of the Defendants. The judge ruled there was not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause because Local Rule 701 did not impose a residency requirement and therefore the Privilege and Immunities Clause was inapplicable. The judge also ruled that the Due Process clause was not violated because the designation of an out-of-district judge to handle the matter eliminated any potential conflict of interest.

            As a result, the judge has denied the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment; granted the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss; and, directed the Clerk of Court to close the case.

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