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Judge Greenlights ADA Case Against Florida Bar Examiners

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 10, 2018 2:20 PM

Julius Hobbs, a law student, dealt with explosives and other perils when he was an Army captain in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It caused him psychological problems with anxiety and depression. It also contributed to a drinking problem, he told Florida bar examiners when he applied for admission to practice law.

They said he had to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and other psychological testing, so he sued them under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now the bar examiners have a problem because you cannot be more American than an Army veteran.

Americans With Disabilities Act

Judge Robert Hinkle had to consider Hobbs' case against the Florida Board of Bar Examiners. The board filed a motion to dismiss the case, but the judge denied it.

In his decision, Hinkle said the bar examiners may inquire about an applicant's fitness to practice law. It is also appropriate to ask questions about mental health conditions and related issues.

However, the judge noted allegations that the defendant forced Hobbs "to submit to invasive procedures and to expend funds not because the requirements serve a purpose in determining his fitness to practice law, but only because he has a disability."

"Placing unnecessary hurdles in the path of a person with a disability is the paradigm of an ADA violation," the judge said.

"Unnecessary Hurdles"

The bar examiners wanted Hobbs to submit to a full medical evaluation, including psychiatric and psychological testing, and a substance abuse evaluation. According to reports, it would have cost him up to $5,000.

In his bar application, Hobbs included a letter from his clinical psychologist. It said that Hobbs had undergone treatment and was making "significant progress."

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