United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
November 6, 2018
from the United States District Court for the District of
Columbia (No. 1:16-cv-02049)
G. Boyce, appointed by the court, argued the cause on behalf
of the amicus curiae in support of the appellant. Chad I.
Golder, appointed by the court, was with her on brief.
Clarence Jackson, pro se, was on brief for the appellant.
E. Pittman, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the
Attorney General for the District of Columbia, argued the
cause for the appellees. Karl A. Racine, Attorney General,
Loren L. AliKhan, Solicitor General, and Caroline S. Van
Zile, Deputy Solicitor General, were with her on brief.
Before: Henderson, Griffith and Wilkins, Circuit Judges.
LeCraft Henderson, Circuit Judge.
2010, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Committee on
Admissions ("Committee") denied Clarence
Jackson's application to sit for the D.C. Bar Examination
("Bar"). Since then, Jackson has challenged that
decision and, in turn, the handling of his challenge. His
case reached the federal district court in 2016. The district
court dismissed his complaint based on three alternative
doctrines: the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, the
Younger abstention doctrine and the doctrine of
res judicata. Because none of the three doctrines
applies, we reverse.
Jackson sat unsuccessfully for the Bar four times. In 2010,
he applied to sit a fifth time. He failed to pay the required
fees or to provide proof of law school graduation and the
Committee denied his application.
years later, Jackson sued the Committee in the D.C. Superior
Court ("State Complaint"). He alleged that the
denial of his application violated the Fourteenth Amendment
to the United States Constitution, constituted a breach of
contract and resulted in the intentional infliction of
emotional distress. On April 1, 2016, the Superior Court
granted without explanation the Committee's motion to
dismiss the State Complaint.
around April 5, 2016, Jackson submitted a petition to the
D.C. Mayor's Office in an apparent attempt to seek review
of the decision denying him a further opportunity to take the
bar exam. The Mayor's Office denied his petition on the
ground that he had already filed a lawsuit making the same
claim. Jackson then petitioned for review in the D.C. Court
of Appeals, but his petition was denied as untimely.
April 7, 2016, Jackson asked the Superior Court to explain
why it dismissed the State Complaint. The request remained
pending for more than one year.
interim, Jackson filed the instant complaint ("Federal
Complaint"). This time Jackson sued both the Committee
and the Mayor's Office ("Defendants"). He
alleged that the denial of his application and the rejection
of his challenge to that denial violated the Sixth,
Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, 0F  as well as the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. §
12101 et seq. He also reasserted his breach of
contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress
claims and asserted a claim for negligent infliction of
emotional distress. In March 2017, the district court granted
the Defendants' motion to dismiss the Federal Complaint.
The district court construed the Federal Complaint as a suit
against the District and characterized the claims contained
therein as "effectively the same as those advanced [in