Character & Fitness Committee Rules and Hearing Procedures
- Section III of the Rules of the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners in reference to Character & Fitness is attached, incorporated, and made a part hereof.
- The applicant must sign and return the receipt of notice of hearing. Failure to do so may result in removal from the schedule.
- Your hearing is scheduled to start at a.m./ p.m. You must be ready 15 minutes early in the event the Committee is prepared to begin. If other hearings or matters delay the Committee, your hearing may not start on time. Every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate the applicant's or counsel's schedule, but a delay may occur.
- The hearing commences with the introduction of the Committee members, counsel from the Attorney General's Office, the applicant, and applicant's counsel.
- There will be a brief summary by the Director of the facts and issues relevant to the hearing.
- The applicant and/or counsel may make an opening statement, describing what they intend to present to the Committee.
- The applicant/counsel may present evidence in the form of testimony of the applicant, witness testimony, and exhibits in support of applicant's good character and fitness, including letters of reference, professional reports, and affidavits. Letters of reference should include a brief statement concerning the history of the relationship between applicant and the reference, and a statement by the reference concerning the Character and Fitness issues before the Committee.
FOR ANY SUBMISSION, YOU MUST FOLLOW THE PROCEDURES ON ATTACHMENT A, INCLUDING THE MANDATORY FILING DEADLINES. The rules of evidence will be liberally construed.
- Questions from the Committee members will be allowed and encouraged at any time after the applicant begins presenting evidence.
- The applicant and counsel may present a closing argument or statement.
- Witness/Document Review: Any witness testifying will be subject to Committee and/or counsel questions. Prior to the hearing, the applicant or counsel may request a summary of documents relied on by the Committee. At the discretion of the Chairperson of the Committee, giving deference to due process and privacy, review of documents by applicant and counsel may be allowed at the hearing.
- The Committee reserves the right to shorten or lengthen the amount of time for a fair and complete hearing, and to continue or postpone the hearing for additional evidence/testimony. Pursuant to Virginia Code Section 54.1-3925.3, the Committee may subpoena witnesses or production of documents.
- A decision and recommendation by the Character & Fitness Committee will not be made until after the hearing. The applicant may appeal the decision of the Character & Fitness Committee to the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners, by Notice of Appeal within 30 days of the date of the decision, to Catherine C. Hill, Secretary/Treasurer, Virginia Board of Bar Examiners; 2201 W. Broad St, Ste 101; Richmond, Virginia, 23220.
- The decision of the Character & Fitness Committee to recommend licensing an applicant who has a felony conviction or law school honor code violation resulting in suspension or expulsion will be reviewed by the Virginia Board of Bar Examiners. The Board may approve licensure without a hearing or appearance by the applicant. If the Board elects to hold a hearing, the Board’s decision will be based on the record of the hearing before the Character & Fitness Committee, as well as any additional evidence and oral presentation the Board deems appropriate. On all appeals of denial of licensure by the Character & Fitness Committee, the Board will give substantial weight to the decision of the Committee if supported by the evidence. An adverse, final decision of the Board may be appealed to the Supreme Court of Virginia in accordance with the Rules of the Court.
- Every applicant who appeals a decision of the Character & Fitness Committee shall, at the applicant’s expense, obtain and file with the Board a transcript of the Character & Fitness hearing. Transcripts may be ordered from Ruth Levy, email: email@example.com.
- An applicant may not reapply for admission until the expiration of two years from the date of final decision denying admission.
- An applicant who withdraws or ceases to pursue his or her application for admission while a character and fitness investigation is pending will be deemed to have acknowledged that they do not possess the requisite good character and/or fitness for admission to the Virginia Bar.
Please contact Stephen A. Isaacs, Director of Character & Fitness, if you or your counsel have any questions regarding the procedures outlined above.