Three-judge panel won’t overturn decision of Illinois Supreme Court
PJStar, July 15, 2003
By MIKE ROBINSON, of the Associated Press
CHICAGO – A federal appeals court refused Monday to overturn an Illinois Supreme Court committee’s finding that an avowed white supremacist lacks sufficient moral character to practice law in the state.
It was the latest setback for Matthew F. Hale of East Peoria, whose five-year battle for an Illinois law license has been overshadowed lately by criminal charges that could send him to federal prison for years.
Hale, 31, is currently in the Metropolitan Correctional Center, charged with soliciting one of his followers to murder a federal judge.
But his five-year legal odyssey in quest of a law license has still been wending its way through the court system.
A three-judge panel of the 7th U.S. Court of Appeals said in an 11-page opinion that a lower court was right in dismissing a lawsuit Hale filed as part of his battle to gain admission to the Illinois bar.
U.S. District Judge John W. Darrah had noted that the Illinois Supreme Court had upheld the decision of its committee on fitness and character in finding that Hale didn’t qualify for the bar.
He ruled that as a federal judge he had no standing to second-guess the Illinois court’s decision.
The appeals court said Darrah was right.
“We find that Hale has had his day in the state courts, and that the district court correctly dismissed his suit,” the appeals panel said.
The panel said Hale’s “avowed mission in life is to bring about the hegemony of the white race, the legal abolition of legal protection and the deportation of non-white Americans by non-violent means.”
It said he attended Southern Illinois University law school “with these goals in mind” and in applying for admission to the Illinois bar “disclosed his active role in promoting racism and anti-semitism.”
Although Hale passed an exam showing he had the legal knowledge to practice law, he failed a second test required of all applicants.
That test requires applicants to be fit and of good character.
The committee on character and fitness appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court found him unfit to practice law in the state.
It said Hale under “any civilized standards of decency” showed a “gross deficiency in moral character, particularly for lawyers who have a special responsibility to uphold the rule of law for all persons.”
In April 1999, a hearing panel appointed by the committee rejected his application for admission to the bar, thus denying him a law license.
Hale was arrested in January and charged with urging a follower to murder U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow.
She had ruled against him in a trademark violation case and ordered him to change the name of his white supremacist group, then known as the World Church of the Creator. It now calls itself the Creativity Movement.
Hale has pleaded innocent.