A registered Kentucky sex offender wants to become a lawyer. The Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions denied his application and Guy Padraic Hamilton-Smith took his case to the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Hamilton-Smith, a registered sex offender in Kentucky since 2007, graduated from the University of Kentucky college of law in 2011. He had applied for acceptance into the law programs at Northern Kentucky University and the University of Louisville in 2008, but was rejected by both schools based on his status as a sex offender.
So what did Hamilton-Smith do that would keep two schools from accepting him and the State of Kentucky from allowing him to take the bar?
In March 2007, Hamilton-Smith pleaded guilty to possessing material on his computer that showed a child performing sexual acts. The material was recovered in the midst of a sea of adult pornography. It is not uncommon for large amounts of pornographic downloads to include hidden child pornography. But how the material arrived on his computer was not as important as his possession of it.
“The classic example is somebody who just downloads buckets of pornography. In that download, there just happened to be child pornography,” said Hamilton-Smith’s attorney, Scott White.
The Kentucky sex offender was sentenced to five years in prison (which was suspended) and will be registered as a sex offender with the state until 2027. In what he claims is an attempt to rehabilitate himself from a “sex addiction”, Hamilton-Smith pursued a career in law and joined Sex Addicts Anonymous. He finished in the top third of his class at UK and has been employed in a non-lawyer position with Baldani, Rowland and Richardson in Lexington, KY since graduating.
So why keep a law graduate out of the Kentucky Bar Association? Because they feel that his past moral decisions keep him from qualification.
Elizabeth Feamster, director and general counsel for the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions, stated in her court filings that Hamilton-Smith had admitted “destructive and harmful behaviors when it comes to sex and sexuality.” Law students are made very aware early on that behavior, ethics, and morals are as important to practicing law as is aptitude. The question is, can registered sex offenders ever be considered “rehabilitated”?
As the number of registered sex offenders in the US continues to rise, the need for them to pursue jobs and education will increase as well. Hamilton-Smith’s appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court was denied, but so was the Kentucky Office of the Bar’s attempt to ban all sex offenders from the Bar. The Court felt that each case should be decided on a stand alone basis. Hamilton-Smith has until January 13, 2014 to ask for a reconsideration.
What is necessary for a sex offender to prove that he or she has been properly “rehabilitated”? Do you think a registered sex offender could ever become a lawyer?