916 F2d 716 Marin v. T Hazelton
916 F.2d 716
NOTICE: Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3 provides that dispositions other than opinions or orders designated for publication are not precedential and should not be cited except when relevant under the doctrines of law of the case, res judicata, or collateral estoppel.
Melvin M. MARIN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Rick T. HAZELTON, Board of Bar Examiners, Howard Arnett,
Gordon P. Callaway, John Barlow, Paula A. Barran, C. Carter,
Diane Ericsson, Marlyce Gholston, Joyce A. Harpole, George
M. Jennings, Robin Parisi, Orrin R. Ormsbes, G. Kenneth
Shiroishi, Joan L. Volpert, Defendants-Appellees.
Nos. 89-35747, 90-35136.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Submitted Oct. 1, 1990.*
Decided Oct. 16, 1990.
Before KOZINSKI, O'SCANNLAIN and FERNANDEZ, Circuit Judges.
Marin appeals the district court's dismissal of his 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 action claiming various constitutional violations in connection with his bar application. He also appeals the district court's refusal to issue a protective order covering documents from his bar admission file. We affirm.
A. The Board of Bar Examiners is a state entity consisting of fourteen members whose function is to examine bar applicants and make recommendations to the Oregon Supreme Court regarding admission to practice law in Oregon. Or.Rev.Stat. Sec. 9.210. Marin concedes that a suit against the board itself would be barred by the eleventh amendment. Appellant's Brief at 30-31. To the extent Marin may be complaining about actions by members of the board other than the casting of votes, such actions have no legal effect and therefore cannot be the basis of liability under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983.
To the extent Marin is seeking to hold the individual board members liable for the actions of the board, they are immune. The board members derive their authority from the Oregon Supreme Court. Under Hoover v. Ronwin, 466 U.S. 558, 570-73, reh'g denied, 467 U.S. 1268 (1984), the board members enjoy the same immunity as does the Oregon Supreme Court because the board's actions cannot be divorced from those of the court. The board therefore enjoys absolute immunity if the act of determining eligibility for bar membership is a "judicial act." We hold that it is. Determining whether a particular individual is suited to be a member of the bar is inherently a judicial function, one closely tied to the process of resolving the cases these members of the bar will be presenting to the courts. See Sparks v. Character & Fitness Comm., 859 F.2d 428, 434 (6th Cir.1988), cert. denied, 109 S.Ct. 1120 (1989).
B. Our affirmance of the district court's dismissal of Marin's complaint moots his appeal on the confidentiality issue as to any documents not currently part of the record. We must review, however, the district court's refusal to grant a protective order for the two documents that are already in the record. These documents are simply procedural orders of the Oregon Supreme Court directing the processing of Marin's application. They contain nothing confidential. The district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to issue a protective order.