On Wednesday, June 28, 2023, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied the petition for reinstatement of attorney Vincent James for failure to provide objective or give evidence indicating his current competence and knowledge in the field of law to resume practice.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Vincent James,” with case no. 163 DB 2021.

In 1983, the petitioner elected a retired status from the practice of law. He has not worked as a paralegal or legal assistant for a law firm, a legal services organization, or a lawyer. During his time on retired status, the petitioner did not engage in any volunteer opportunities in the legal field. Petitioner began considering having his Pennsylvania law license reinstated approximately a year before he filed a questionnaire. He attributed his interest in reinstatement to his observation that there was a great increase in public interest law.

The filing states:

“Approximately two and one-half to three years prior to the reinstatement hearing, Petitioner purchased and began periodically reviewing the Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence, the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Pennsylvania Rules of Appellate Procedure. N.T. 90-91. If Petitioner is reinstated, he hopes to secure a position in the public interest sector in Pennsylvania.”

The filing continues:

“Petitioner did not offer any witness testimony concerning his prior work performance in legal or non-legal positions or his competency and learning in the law. Petitioner did not submit any letters of reference addressing, inter alia, his competency and learning in the law during the period of his retired status. Petitioner made omissions on the special reinstatement questionnaire.”

The filing further states:

“On March 14, 2022, Petitioner filed with the Board Prothonotary a third Special Reinstatement Questionnaire (“the March 2022 Questionnaire”) that provided supplemental information in response to Question 7(a); the March 2022 Questionnaire included the employment history that Petitioner omitted from January 2022 Questionnaire. Petitioner testified that he mistakenly omitted several pages related to Petitioner’s employment history when he filed the Questionnaire with the Board Prothonotary in December 2021. N.T. 37-39.”

However, despite his efforts, the court stated that the petitioner failed to demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that he has the competency and learning in the law required for admission. This is despite the petitioner’s statement that he took almost two months in answering questions.

The filing additionally notes:

“Petitioner testified that his continued omission of several employment positions he held from 1998 through 2007 in response to Question 7 on January 2022 The questionnaire was due to Petitioner not having good records and needing to devote more time to research and investigate his employment history. Petitioner stated that he had devoted a “month and a half of almost full-time work” in answering questions on the Questionnaire, that “more time was needed” to provide a response that accurately listed his employment history, and that the “overall process was so demanding that [he] simply wasn’t able to give employment the amount of time it needed initially.”

The evidence presented to the board shows that the petitioner has been away from the legal profession for 43 years and has not been employed since 2007. Furthermore, the petitioner failed to provide objective or give evidence indicating his current competence and knowledge in the field of law to resume practice. Additionally, there were omissions on the reinstatement paperwork, and no plan was presented for the petitioner’s return to legal practice. In lieu of this, the board decided to deny the petition for reinstatement of the respondent.

The order states:

“AND NOW, this 28th day of June 2023, upon consideration of the parties’ responses to the Board’s Report and Recommendations, the Application for Leave to File Amended Petition for Review and the Petition for Reinstatement are denied. The petitioner is ordered to pay the expenses incurred by the Board in the investigation and processing of the Petition for Reinstatement. See Pa.R.D.E. 218(f).’

A copy of the original filing can be found here.