The Kentucky Supreme Court has rejected his efforts so far. AP — Guy Padraic Hamilton-Smith graduated in the top third of his law school class at the University of Kentucky , but the state Supreme Court blocked him from taking the bar exam because he is a registered sex offender. In the first case of its kind in Kentucky, the court rejected Hamilton-Smith's bid and a move by the state Office of Bar Admissions to create and endorse a blanket rule that would have kept all registered sex offenders from gaining access to the bar.
Minton wrote in the Dec. Hamilton-Smith, who was convicted of a charge related to child pornography in , has until Jan. In an email, Hamilton-Smith referred Associated Press questions to his attorney, who said the reconsideration request will be filed. Nationally, cases of felons seeking admission or re-admission to the bar are common. But situations of registered sex offenders attempting to do so appear to be rare.
Beyond a recent rejection in Ohio and an ongoing case in Virginia, legal experts and those who work to rehabilitate sex offenders couldn't recall a similar situation arising in recent years. But Shelley Stow of Reform Sex Offender Laws — a Massachusetts-based organization that seeks to ease restrictions on offenders and promote rehabilitation — said she wouldn't be surprised to see more cases out there. The Kentucky case brings up the question of how to treat someone who has admitted to criminal activity, wants to rehabilitate himself and serve others, but is still monitored by law enforcement, said Hamilton-Smith's attorney, Scott White, of Lexington.
Hamilton-Smith pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a child in March He received a five-year prison sentence, which was suspended, and was required to register as a sex offender for 20 years — until After disclosing the conviction and sex offender status on his applications, Chase Law School at Northern Kentucky University and Brandeis Law School at the University of Louisville both rejected him in But the University of Kentucky College of Law accepted him in and he graduated in Since graduating in , Hamilton-Smith has held a non-lawyer position for Baldani, Rowland and Richardson.
The Lexington firm has filed letters in support of Hamilton-Smith taking the bar exam, White said. But Hamilton-Smith still has not been cleared by the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions to take the exam that would allow him to practice law. White called Hamilton-Smith "a classic sex addict. White also said his client used law school as a redemptive and rehabilitative effort while owning up to his criminal conduct. Elizabeth Feamster, director and general counsel for the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions, did not return phone and email messages seeking comment from AP.
But in court filings, Feamster cited the seriousness of the charge as well as Hamilton-Smith's acknowledgement of sexual addiction and "destructive and harmful behaviors when it comes to sex and sexuality. Hamilton-Smith "was aware that he might be allowed into this profession," Feamster wrote. For the justices, the nature of the crime defines someone lacking in the "requisite character and fitness" to be admitted to the bar.