Carlton Vose, Applicant, Pro se.
For Committee on Character & Fitness: Gerald Coyne, Esq.
Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.
The applicant, Carlton Vose, filed a petition with this Court in opposition to the recommendation of the Supreme Court's Committee on Character and Fitness (the committee) that he be denied admission to the Rhode Island bar. Specifically, the applicant asserts that: (1) the committee violated his due process rights by failing to provide him with adequate notice of the reasons for the recommendation of denial and failing to provide him with an adequate opportunity to respond to the charges against him; and (2) the committee failed to support its conclusions with sufficient and proper evidence. This matter came before the Supreme Court on May 28, 2014 pursuant to an order directing the applicant to show cause why the recommendation of the committee should not be adopted. After considering the applicant's written and oral submissions, we conclude that cause has not been shown and that this case may be decided without further briefing or argument. For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we adopt the recommendation of the committee.
Facts and Procedural History
Carlton Vose attended law school in the State of Florida after working as an officer of the Jacksonville County Sheriff's Office. Mr. Vose filed a Petition/Questionnaire for Admission to the Rhode Island Bar (the application) on May 14, 2010. Consistent with the practice for all applicants to the
Rhode Island bar, Mr. Vose had an individual meeting with a member of the committee prior to taking the July 2010 bar examination. At this meeting, Mr. Vose was advised that, in the event that he passed the bar examination, he would have to go before the full committee to address two issues: (1) the recommendation of denial of his previous application to the Florida bar; and (2) his insufficient answer to a question on the Rhode Island application regarding the Florida proceedings. Mr. Vose passed the July 2010 bar examination and met with the full committee on April 7, 2011, December 9, 2011, December 16, 2011, December 21, 2011, and November 16, 2012.
Mr. Vose spent much of the April 7 and December 9 meetings exhaustively criticizing the findings of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners (the Florida board) and its recommendation that he be denied admission to the Florida bar. For example, Mr. Vose testified that his Florida application was denied because he " went to war" with the legal counsel to the Florida board. Mr. Vose also accused the legal counsel to the Florida board of giving false testimony, changing Mr. Vose's testimony, and violating his due process rights. Mr. Vose expressed concerns about the sharing of information between the committee and the Florida board, at one point accusing the committee of violating its own rules with regard to the release of information and stating that he had " two Bar Associations working with each other against [him]."
At the end of the meeting on December 9, 2011, Mr. Vose told the committee that he wished to discuss something off the record. The committee then went off the record, and Mr. Vose told the committee that an unnamed lawyer had acted inappropriately toward a woman whom Mr. Vose had been dating, and that Mr. Vose had confronted the lawyer regarding this alleged conduct. At the end of these comments, Mr. Vose revealed that this unnamed lawyer was also a member of the committee. The committee excused Mr. Vose from the meeting and placed a summary of his off-the-record comments on the record. Mr. Vose had not previously raised this issue, and at no point during the proceedings did he move to recuse any committee member. In light of the seriousness of Mr. Vose's off-the-record allegations, the committee decided to schedule another meeting for December 16, 2011 to further address the issue.
Between December 12 and December 14, the Clerk of the Court attempted to give Mr. Vose notice of the upcoming December 16 meeting by emailing him at the email address listed on his application, emailing him at his work email address, leaving him a voicemail, mailing a letter to his home address, and delivering a sealed letter by courier to his place of work. Mr. Vose resisted these notices by first failing to provide requested acknowledgment of receipt, and then by engaging in hostile email communications with the Clerk. Mr. Vose characterized the sealed letter that was delivered by courier to his place of work as a " note given to my co-workers," told the Clerk that he would be deactivating his email address, and directed her to not contact him in any manner except by written communications sent to his home address.
At the December 16 meeting, the committee asked Mr. Vose to place on the record the comments he had made off the record on December 9. Mr. Vose told the committee that the lawyer with whom he had had the conflict was ...