March 30, 2017
The Daily Journal [subscription] yesterday reported about Sergio Garcia, who was granted a law license by the Supreme Court three years ago when he was an undocumented immigrant. In her State of the Judiciary speech earlier this week, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye mentioned Garcia’s admission to the bar as an example of what happens “when the rule of law stands strong.”
The article — “Lawyer once illegally in US claims thriving practice” — includes Garcia recounting how a non-lawyer friend tried to introduce him to the Chief Justice at a bar event while the Supreme Court was considering whether to admit him as a practicing attorney. According to Garcia, “he was caught flat-footed,” but the Chief Justice “turned and walked away as fast as she could without saying a word,” presumably to avoid contact with a party to a pending matter. Garcia said, “Never even give an impression of impropriety. As a human being, it didn’t feel great. As an attorney, I get it 100 percent.”
Members of the Supreme Court bar probably don’t have a standard practice of affirmatively advising clients to avoid contact with the court’s justices if the clients have a case pending in the court, because the opportunities for that contact are rare. It’s not a bad thing to keep in mind, though.