In general, I think that once somebody has served a sentence or been pardoned for a crime, he should be free to get on with his life, get a job, maybe even practice law if he wants to. A past criminal record doesn't necessarily mean somebody is unfit to practice law today.
Possible exception: convicted terrorists.
Parminder Singh Saini conceded recently that he had "no legitimate right" to hijack a plane in 1984, taking 270 hostages and seriously wounding the flight crew. "It's not legal" to do these things, Saini said, and it's good that he has thought about the legal issues because he was talking to examiners who are deciding whether he should be allowed to practice law in Canada.
Apparently, some people think Saini should not be granted a license just because, in 1984, he and four others hijacked an Air India plane, shot and stabbed the flight crew, and held 270 people hostage for two days. Saini, who personally shot the flight engineer in the back, was sentenced to death but was released 10 years later on condition that he leave the country.
Permanent exile is a really good idea in that situation because it's not like a terrorist would ever, let's say, get a fake passport.
Saini showed up in Canada shortly thereafter, with a fake passport. He lied about his name, his record, and his family to get into the country, and after he was caught a few months later, immigration judges found that he was a continuing threat. One remarked that Saini showed an "almost total lack of credibility and trustworthiness" as well as "a continuing ability and willingness to engage in unlawful behavior. . . . I do not trust his assertions that he no longer believes in the use of force to achieve his aims." The judges ordered him deported. This would have been, let's see, about 14 years ago, and yet, via numerous appeals, Saini is still in Canada, has gone to law school, and is now hoping to be allowed to pass the bar.
He does have some supporters, who say that a lot of time has passed and claim that Saini has changed his ways. And after all, he did tell the bar examiners that he now realizes hijacking planes and shooting innocent people "is not legal." That is true. That is a correct legal analysis of the legal status of hijacking planes and shooting innocent people. Personally I would be looking for maybe a promise not to do it again, but I'm no Canadian bar examiner.
The tribunal has apparently taken the question of whether to admit Saini to the bar under advisement. The chairman was quoted as saying that the decision "isn't easy." Maybe not. On the other hand, of the 98 people who have commented on this story on the Toronto Star's webpage, exactly one supported Saini's position. And that guy was being sarcastic.Link: Toronto Star