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National Association for Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice v. Berch

United States District Court, D. Arizona

September 19, 2013

National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice; Allison Girvin; Mark Anderson; and Mark Kolman, Plaintiffs,
v.
Hon. Rebecca White Berch, Chief Justice; Hon. W. Scott Bales, Vice Chief Justice; Hon. John Pelander; and Hon. Robert M. Brutinel, Justices, Defendants

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For National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice, NAAMJP, Allison Girvin, Mark Anderson, Mark Kolman, Plaintiffs: Grant Joseph Savoy, LEAD ATTORNEY, SKS Law, Los Angeles, CA; Joseph Robert Giannini, Attorney at Law, Los Angeles, CA.

For Rebecca White Berch, Hon. Chief Justice, W Scott Bales, Hon. Vice Chief Justice, John Pelander, Honorable, Robert M Brutinel, Honorable, Defendants: Eryn Marie McCarthy, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Attorney General, Phoenix, AZ.

OPINION

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ORDER

Bridget S. Bade, United States Magistrate Judge.

In this matter, Plaintiffs, the National Association for the Advancement of Multijurisdiction Practice (the NAAMJP), Allison Girvin (Girvin), Mark Anderson (Anderson), and Mark Kolman (Kolman), challenge Arizona Supreme Court Rule 34(f), which provides for admission on motion to the Arizona Bar (the AOM Rule). (Doc. 36.) Plaintiffs allege that Arizona's AOM Rule is unconstitutional because it allows admission on motion for attorneys admitted in states having reciprocal admission rules for Arizona attorneys (reciprocity states), but requires attorneys admitted to practice law in states that do not have reciprocal admission rules (non-reciprocity states) to take the uniform bar examination (UBE) to gain admission to the Arizona Bar. ( Id.) Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief; specifically Plaintiffs request an order declaring Arizona's AOM Rule unconstitutional and enjoining its enforcement. ( Id. at ¶ 97.)

The parties have filed several dispositive motions. Plaintiffs have filed a motion for summary judgment (Doc. 28), and Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss [1] (Doc. 52)

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and a cross motion for summary judgment. [2] (Doc. 54.) After the dispositive motions were fully briefed, the NAAMJP and Kolman filed a motion to admit Kolman to the Arizona Bar. (Doc. 90.) Plaintiffs also filed a motion to amend the Second Amended Complaint to add a party. (Doc. 95.) As set forth below, the Court grants summary judgment in Defendants' favor on Plaintiffs' claims and denies Defendants' motion to dismiss as moot. The Court also denies Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment, [3] denies Plaintiffs' motion to admit Kolman to the Arizona Bar, and denies Plaintiffs' motion to amend.

I. Background

A. Plaintiff NAAMJP and the Individual Plaintiffs

The NAAMJP is a non-profit corporation that describes its mission as improving the legal profession by promoting the adoption of the American Bar Association's (ABA) recommendation for reciprocal bar admission. (Doc. 36 at 4-5; Russell Decl. ¶ ¶ 1and 3.) [4] Plaintiffs' counsel Joseph Giannini, who is also a director of the NAAMJP (Doc. 54-1 ¶ 32; Doc. 70-1 ¶ 32), has filed numerous challenges to state and federal bar admission requirements on a variety of grounds, including the Supremacy Clause, the Commerce Clause, Title VII, the Fifth Amendment right to property and right to travel, and the Full Faith and Credit Clause. See Paciulan v. George, 229 F.3d 1226, 1228 (9th Cir. 2000) (citing McKenzie v. Rehnquist, 1999 WL 1215630 (D.C. Cir. Nov. 24, 1999)); Morissette v. Yu, 1994 WL 123871 (9th Cir. Apr. 11, 1994); Giannini v. Real, 911 F.2d 354 (9th Cir.1990); Giannini v. Comm. of Bar Exam'rs, 847 F.2d 1434 (9th Cir. 1988)).

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Plaintiff Kolman has been a licensed Maryland attorney since 1971. (Doc. 36 at 6; Kolman Decl. ¶ 1.) Kolman has also been admitted by waiver to practice in the District of Columbia, which has reciprocity with Arizona. [5] (Doc. 69 at 9 n.3) Kolman is a partner with Dickstein Shapiro LLP in Washington, D.C. (Kolman Decl. ¶ 4.) He moved to Arizona in 2008. ( Id. at ¶ 11.) Kolman attests that he has obtained a certificate of completion of the Arizona Law for Admission on Motion Course and passed the Multi-State Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE). ( Id. at ¶ 13.) He also attests that he has provided the Arizona Committee on Character and Fitness the documentation required for admission on motion. ( Id.) Kolman applied for, and was denied, admission on motion to the Arizona Bar because his state of licensing, Maryland, does not have reciprocity with Arizona. ( Id. at ¶ 14.) On February 24, 2011, Kolman filed a petition for review with the Arizona Supreme Court. ( Id. at ¶ 15.) The court denied his petition on April 19, 2011. ( Id.)

Plaintiff Girvin is a licensed California attorney. ( Id. at 8; Girvin Decl. ¶ 2.) She moved to Arizona in 2012. (Doc. 36 at 8.) Girvin received a score of 272 on the UBE administered in Arizona (Arizona UBE) in July 2012; [6] her score was one point below a passing score of 273. (Girvin Decl. ¶ ¶ 13, 15.) Girvin alleges that she failed the examination " after counsel for defendants communicated [defense counsel] had the connections, power, and ruthless intent to retaliate for filing this lawsuit." (Doc. 36 at 8; Girvin Decl. ¶ ¶ 16-17.) Girvin scored 134.6 on the MBE, a portion of the bar examination consisting of 200 multiple choice questions. (Girvin Decl. at ¶ ¶ 15, 19.) Girvin attests that the Arizona Supreme Court and the National Conference of Bar Examiners have refused to disclose a breakdown of her MBE score, or her state and national rank on the MBE test. ( Id. at ¶ 20.) Girvin scored 137.4 on the MEE, the essay portion of the UBE. ( Id. at ¶ 15.) She attests that the Arizona Supreme Court has refused to provide a breakdown of her scores on the MEE. ( Id. at ¶ 21.)

Plaintiff Anderson is a licensed Montana attorney. (Doc. 36 at 9; Anderson Decl. ¶ 1.) Anderson attests that Arizona's rules regarding admission on motion have deterred him from moving to Arizona to practice law. (Anderson Decl. ¶ ¶ 1-2.) He alleges that he will move to Arizona " if Arizona abrogates its tit-for-tat bar admission Rule . . . ." (Doc. 36 at 9.)

B. Admission to the Arizona Bar and Rule 34

The Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court provide three methods of admission to the practice of law in Arizona: (1) admission by Arizona UBE (Ariz. R. S.Ct. 34(a)); (2) admission on motion (Ariz. R. S.Ct. 34(f)); and (3) admission by transfer of UBE score from another jurisdiction (Ariz. R. S.Ct. 34(h)).

The Arizona Supreme Court Committees on Examinations and Character and Fitness make initial determinations regarding admission to the bar based on educational and fitness findings. (DSOF ¶ ¶ 1,4, Ex. A.) [7] A person aggrieved by a

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decision of either Committee may file a petition for review with the Arizona Supreme Court pursuant to Ariz. R. S.Ct. 36(g)(1). The Arizona Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction to make the ultimate decision regarding who may practice law in Arizona and under what conditions. (DSOF ¶ 2; Ex. A.); see also Ariz. R. S.Ct. 31.

Plaintiffs challenge the Arizona Supreme Court's rule governing admission on motion, Rule 34(f)(1). When Plaintiffs filed this matter, Rule 34(f) provided that:

1. An applicant who meets the requirements of (A) through (H) of this paragraph (f)(1) may, upon motion, be admitted to the practice of law in this jurisdiction. The applicant shall:
A. have been admitted by bar examination to practice law in another jurisdiction allowing for admission of licensed Arizona lawyers on a basis equivalent to this rule;
* * *
C. have been primarily engaged in the active practice of law in one or more states, territories, or the District of Columbia for five of the seven years immediately preceding the date upon which the application is filed.

Ariz. R. S.Ct. 34(f)(1)(A) and (C).

Effective July 1, 2013, the Arizona Supreme Court expanded Rule 34(f)(1) to allow attorneys to apply for admission on motion to the Arizona Bar if they have been " admitted by bar examination to practice law in one or more states, territories, or the District of Columbia, and have been admitted to and engaged in the active practice of law for at least five years in another jurisdiction or jurisdictions allowing for admission of licensed Arizona lawyers on a basis equivalent to this rule." Ariz. R. S.Ct. 34(f) (2013) .

Under this amendment, attorneys who were admitted by bar examination in a non-reciprocal jurisdiction, and then became admitted by motion and practiced in a jurisdiction that Arizona deems reciprocal, such as the District of Columbia, may also apply for admission on motion. Although this amendment to Rule 34(f) likely increases the number of attorneys eligible for admission on motion, it does not render the pending action moot because it does not abrogate the reciprocity requirement at the heart of Plaintiffs' challenge to that rule.

II. Judicial Notice

Before considering the pending motions, the Court considers Plaintiffs' request that the Court take judicial notice that the State of Montana adopted the UBE in July 2013. (Docs. 87 and 88.) Defendants oppose this request and argue that Montana's adoption of the UBE is not material to the issues before the Court. (Doc. 89.) Defendants also argue that Plaintiffs' request for judicial notice improperly includes additional arguments related to issues that the parties have fully briefed.

Under Federal Rule of Evidence 201, a trial court may take judicial notice of facts " if requested by the party and supplied with the necessary information." Fed.R.Evid. 201(d). A fact is appropriate for judicial notice if it is " not subject to

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reasonable dispute because it is (1) generally known within the trial court's territorial jurisdiction; or (2) can be accurately and readily determined by from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned." Id. at 201(b). Facts contained in public records are considered appropriate subjects of judicial notice. Santa Monica Food Not Bombs v. City of Santa Monica, 450 F.3d 1022, 1025 (9th Cir. 2006).

The Court confirmed that the Montana Supreme Court adopted the UBE on July 3, 2013 by consulting the National Conference of Bar Examiners website, www.ncbex.org and the Montana Bar Association's website, www.montanabar.org. Although the Court will take judicial notice that the Supreme Court of Montana adopted the UBE in July 2013, that fact is not relevant to the issues in this case. Because the Court did not permit additional briefing on the pending dispositive motions, the Court will not consider Plaintiffs' other arguments asserted in its request for judicial notice.

III. Standards of Review

A. Summary Judgment Motions

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 authorizes the Court to grant summary judgment " if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); [8] see also Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). The moving party bears the initial burden of identifying the portions of the record that it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323.

If the moving party meets its initial burden, the opposing party must establish the existence of a genuine dispute as to any material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585-86, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986). The opposing party must demonstrate the existence of a factual dispute that is both material, meaning it affects the outcome of the claim under the governing law, see Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Fortune Dynamic, Inc. v. Victoria's Secret Stores Brand Mgmt., Inc., 618 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th Cir. 2010), and genuine, meaning " 'the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.'" Freecycle Sunnyvale v. Freecycle Network, 626 F.3d 509, 514 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248). The opposing party " must show more than the mere existence of a scintilla of evidence." In re Oracle Corp. Sec. Litig., 627 F.3d 376, 387 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252). However, the evidence of the non-movant is " to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.

B. Rule 12 Motions to Dismiss

Under Rule 12(b)(1), a defendant may move to dismiss a complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. " [W]hen considering a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) the district court is not restricted to the face of the pleadings, but may review any evidence, such as affidavits and testimony, to resolve factual disputes concerning the existence of jurisdiction."

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McCarthy v. United States, 850 F.2d 558, 560 (9th Cir. 1988). Under Rule 12(b)(6), a defendant may move to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. When a claim is challenged under this rule, the court construes the complaint liberally in the plaintiff's favor. Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 167 L.Ed.2d 929 & 570 (2007). The court presumes that all well-pleaded allegations are true, resolves all reasonable doubts and inferences in the plaintiff's favor, and views the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Id. at 555.

IV. Summary of the Claims and Defenses

Plaintiffs' Complaint and First Amended Complaint named the Arizona Supreme Court and four Arizona Supreme Court Justices as Defendants. (Docs. 1 and 14). In the Second Amended Complaint, however, Plaintiffs omitted the Arizona Supreme Court as a Defendant, and instead named as Defendants only four Arizona Supreme Court Justices, in their official capacities. (Doc. 36 at 10.)

Plaintiffs bring this suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and assert violations of the First Amendment, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, the Dormant Commerce Clause, and the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses. (Doc. 36.) Plaintiffs seek summary judgment on all the claims in their Second Amended Complaint, but their motion addresses only their assertion of standing, their First Amendment Claims, excluding Girvin's retaliation claim, and their right to travel claim under the Privileges and Immunities Clause. (Doc. 28.)

In their motion to dismiss and their motion for summary judgment, Defendants assert nearly identical arguments that Plaintiffs' claims should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, or summary judgment entered in Defendants' favor, because Plaintiffs claims are barred by: (1) the Eleventh Amendment; (2) the Rooker-Feldman doctrine; (3) judicial and legislative immunity; and (4) Article III's justiciability doctrines. (Docs. 52 and 54.) Defendants also argue that Plaintiffs claims are barred because they failed to exhaust state remedies by seeking a rule change through Ariz. R. S.Ct. 28. Defendants further argue that they are entitled to summary judgment, or dismissal for failure to state a claim, because Plaintiffs' claims lack merit. This argument is directed to Plaintiffs' claims under the First Amendment, the Dormant Commerce Clause, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, and the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Docs. 52 and 54.)

V. Analysis of Potential Bars to Plaintiffs' Claims

A. Eleventh Amendment Immunity

Defendants first argue that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' claims because the State of Arizona and the Arizona Supreme Court are not amenable to suit in federal court under the Eleventh Amendment. (Doc. 54 at 4.) The Eleventh Amendment bars suit against a state unless Congress has abrogated the state's sovereign immunity or the state has waived it. Holley v. Cal. Dep't of Corr., 599 F.3d 1108, 1111 (9th Cir. 2010). This protection extends to the agencies and departments of a state. Id. " The Arizona Supreme Court . . . is an 'arm of the state' for Eleventh Amendment purposes." Lucas v. Ariz. S.Ct. Fiduciary Certification Program, 457 Fed.Appx. 689, 2011 WL 5289774, at *1 (9th Cir. 2011); see also Greater L.A. Council on Deafness, Inc. v. Zolin, 812 F.2d 1103, 1110 (9th Cir.1987)

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(" [A] suit against the Superior Court is a suit against the State, barred by the eleventh amendment." ). Thus, unless an exception applies, the Eleventh Amendment would bar Plaintiffs from suing the Arizona Supreme Court or the State of Arizona.

Defendants acknowledge that Plaintiffs have not named the State of Arizona or the Arizona Supreme Court as Defendants in the Second Amended Complaint. Rather, the Defendants are four Arizona Supreme Court Justices, acting in their official capacities. (Doc. 36 at 10.) Defendants, however, assert that because Plaintiffs seek relief against " Arizona," the " State," and the " Arizona Supreme Court," and do not seek any relief against the named Justices, their claims are actually against the Arizona Supreme Court or the State of Arizona and are barred by the Eleventh Amendment. (Doc. 54 at 5.)

Relying on Mothershed v. Justices of the Sup.Ct., 410 F.3d 602 (9th Cir. 2005), Defendants further argue that Plaintiffs' claims against the Justices are really claims against the Arizona Supreme Court because that court promulgated the challenged AOM Rule at the direction of the State as a sovereign. In Mothershed, the plaintiff alleged that certain Arizona rules governing pro hac vice admission and admission requirements for out-of-state attorneys violated the Sherman Act and the First Amendment. Id. at 605. Although the defendants in Mothershed were state bar officials and state supreme court justices, the Ninth Circuit did not address whether a suit against these individuals would be barred under the Eleventh Amendment as a suit against the state.

Instead, the Ninth Circuit found that the individual defendants were state actors for purposes of Parker immunity to antitrust liability. [9] Id. at 608-09. The Ninth Circuit stated that " although [plaintiff's] claim is nominally against certain state bar officials and the Supreme Court Justices in their individual capacities, it is the Supreme Court of Arizona that is the real party in interest because the state bar rules that [plaintiff] is challenging are promulgated by the court in its supervisory role over the practice of law in Arizona." Id. at 609. Thus, the court concluded that the plaintiff's antitrust claims were barred. Id.

The court, however, did not find that the Eleventh Amendment, or any other form of immunity, barred the plaintiff's First Amendment claims against the defendants, even though it had found that these defendants were acting at the direction of the state as a sovereign. Indeed, the court considered the merits of the plaintiff's First Amendment claims. Id. at 610-612 (finding claims failed as a matter of law because the challenged rules were reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on Arizonan's First Amendment right to obtain and consult with a lawyer). Thus, Mothershed does not establish that the Eleventh Amendment bars Plaintiffs' claims.

Furthermore, Plaintiffs argue that the Ex Parte Young exception to Eleventh Amendment immunity applies and allows their claims. (Doc. 69 at 7.) The Ex Parte Young exception allows government officials

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to be sued in their official capacity for violating federal law. Ex Parte Young, 209 U.S. 123, 160, 28 S.Ct. 441, 52 L.Ed. 714 (1908); see also Ass'n des Eleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Quebec v. Harris (Harris), 729 F.3d 937, 2013 WL 4615131 (9th Cir. Aug. 30, 2013); Salt River Project Agr. Imp. and Power Dist. v. Lee (SRP II), 672 F.3d 1176, 1181 (9th Cir. 2012). The Ex Parte Young exception only permits suits for prospective injunctive relief. Demery v. Kupperman, 735 F.2d 1139, 1146 (9th Cir. 1984). Additionally, the Ex Parte Young exception " requires a 'special relation' between the state officer sued and the challenged statute, such that the officer has 'some connection with the enforcement of the act [.]'" Paisley v. Darwin, 2011 WL 3875992, at *3 (D. Ariz. Sept. 2, 2011) (quoting Confederated Tribes & Bands of Yakama Indian Nation v. Locke, 176 F.3d 467, 469 (9th Cir.1999)).

Here, Plaintiffs seek only prospective injunctive relief, they allege violations of federal law, and they are suing the government actors who allegedly violated federal law in his or her official capacity. ( See Doc. 36 at 10.) In an analogous case, the Ninth Circuit held that a plaintiff could sue tribal officials, including Justices of the Navajo Nation Supreme Court. SRP II, 672 F.3d at 1181. In so holding, the Court stated, " [t]his lawsuit for prospective injunctive relief may proceed against the officials under a routine application of Ex Parte Young ." Id. at 1177; see also Harris, 2013 WL 4615131, at *3 (under the Ex. Parte Young exception, the California Attorney General was not immune under the Eleventh Amendment because she had the duty to prosecute any violations of the allegedly unconstitutional statute). Accordingly, the Eleventh Amendment does not bar Plaintiffs' claims in this suit. See Giannini v. Real, 711 F.Supp. 992, 996 (C.D. Cal. 1989) (finding that although the Eleventh Amendment barred damage claims against the State of California, plaintiff's § 1983 claims for injunctive relief against state officials were not barred by the Eleventh Amendment).

B. The Rooker-Feldman Doctrine

Defendants next argue that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars Kolman's and Girvin's claims. (Doc. 54 at 5-7.) Although 28 U.S.C. § 1331 usually vests federal courts with jurisdiction over federal constitutional claims, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine is an exception that applies to preclude jurisdiction. This exception arises out of a negative inference from 28 U.S.C. § 1257, the statute that grants jurisdiction to review a state court judgment only to the United States Supreme Court, and not the federal district courts. See D.C. Ct. App. v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462, 103 S.Ct. 1303, 75 L.Ed.2d 206 (1983); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413, 44 S.Ct. 149, 68 L.Ed. 362 (1923). Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the federal district courts lack subject matter jurisdiction over a suit that is a " de facto appeal from a state court judgment." Kougasian v. TMSL, Inc., 359 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 2004); Rooker, 263 U.S. 413, 44 S.Ct. 149, 68 L.Ed. 362; Hale v. Harney, 786 F.2d 688, 691 (5th Cir. 1986). This doctrine applies even when the challenge to the state court decision involves federal constitutional issues. Feldman, 460 U.S. at 484-86.

The Supreme Court, however, has emphasized the Rooker-Feldman doctrine's limited scope explaining that " the Rooker-Feldman doctrine . . . is confined to . . . cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court judgments rendered before the district court proceedings commenced and inviting district court review and rejection of those judgments." Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 283-84,

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125 S.Ct. 1517, 161 L.Ed.2d 454 (2005). The Court noted that in both Rooker and Feldman, the cases that gave rise to the doctrine, the plaintiffs were directly challenging a state court judgment. Exxon, 544 U.S. at 284-85 (noting that the plaintiffs in Rooker alleged that the " adverse state-court judgment was rendered in contravention of the Constitution" and so should be declared " null and void," and that the plaintiffs in Feldman, in part, directly challenged a state court's denial of their petitions seeking waiver of a rule that required bar applicants to have graduated from an ABA-approved law school). In both cases, the plaintiffs " called upon the District Court to overturn an injurious state-court judgment." Id. at 291-92.

1. Plaintiffs' " As Applied" Challenges to the AOM Rule

The Second Amended Complaint alleges that, on its face and as applied to Plaintiffs, the AOM Rule violates the First Amendment (Count I). (Doc. 36 at 32-39.) The Second Amended Complaint also generally asserts that Rule 34(f)(1)(A) and (C) violate the Plaintiffs' rights under the Privileges and Immunities Clause (Count II), the Dormant Commerce Clause (Count III), and the Equal Protection Clause (Count IV). ( Id. at 39-45.) The Second Amended Complaint further alleges that Girvin's rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment were violated when she was assigned a failing grade on the UBE. (Count V). ( Id. at 46-48.) Finally, the Second Amended Complaint seeks an order admitting Plaintiffs to the Arizona Bar. ( Id. at 49.)

Defendants argue that although Kolman and Girvin characterize their claims as facial attacks on the constitutionality of Arizona's AOM Rule, their claims are " inextricably intertwined" with the final decisions of the Arizona Supreme Court denying them admission to the Arizona Bar and, therefore, they are asking this Court to review a state court decision and it lacks jurisdiction to do so. (Doc. 54 at 6) (citing Craig v. State Bar of Cal., 141 F.3d 1353, 1354 (9th Cir. 1998).) In the Rooker-Feldman context, the phrase " inextricably intertwined" describes the conclusion that a claim asserts an injury whose source is a state court judgment and, therefore, such a claim is barred by Rooker-Feldman . McCormick v. Braverman, 451 F.3d 382, 393 (6th Cir. 2006). " The crucial point is whether the district court is being asked to review the state court decision." Fayyumi v. City of Hickory Hills, 18 F.Supp.2d 909, 913 (N.D.Ill. 1998) (citing Feldman 460 U.S. at 483-84 n.16). The Ninth Circuit has explained that " inextricably intertwined" simply means a plaintiff cannot assert legal error of a state court judgment in a district court. Kougasian, 359 F.3d at 1142-43.

Kolman applied for admission on motion and the Committee on Character and Fitness denied his admission. The Arizona Supreme Court denied his petition for review. To the extent that Kolman asserts violations of his constitutional rights based on the Arizona Supreme Court's 2011 denial of his application for admission to practice law in Arizona pursuant to Arizona's AOM Rule, he is directly attacking a state court judgment and, under Rooker-Feldman, the Court lacks jurisdiction to consider his claims that Arizona's AOM Rule is unconstitutional " as-applied" to him. See Feldman, 460 U.S. at 487-88; Lawrence v. Welch, 531 F.3d 364, 369 (6th Cir. 2009) (affirming district court's ruling that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine ...


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