Supreme Court denial of Tampa man's Bar petition 'frustrating'
The long wait continues for a 26-year-old Tampa immigrant who six months ago petitioned the Florida Supreme Court for admission to the Florida Bar, even though he is not a U.S. citizen. The Florida Supreme Court Thursday denied Jose Godinez-Samperio's motion, and said it can't rule on his admission until it first resolves the question of whether people who enter or remain in the U.S. without legal permission can be attorneys in Florida. That decision is pending.
Godinez-Samperio's parents brought him to the United States from Mexico on a visitor's visa when he was 9. They overstayed their visas and never returned to Mexico. He graduated from Florida State University's law school and already has passed the Florida bar examination.
"It's frustrating," said Godinez-Samperio's lawyer, Talbot (Sandy) D'Alemberte of Tallahassee. "We've got some rules that have been adopted by the court to govern the Board of Bar Examiners, and those rules say that after he's done all the things he's supposed to do, he gets admitted. There's no rule that says undocumented immigrants can't get admitted to the Bar -- and by the way, he's not undocumented any more. He's got documents."
In the past few months, Godinez-Samperio has acquired a work permit, Florida driver's license and Social Security card. In January, he was U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor's guest for President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.