HARRISBURG — The state Supreme Court has struck down a petition filed by an attorney claiming the state Gaming Control Board was restricting her from taking another job.
Justice Kevin M. Dougherty authored the decision to reject the petition. The court found on May 25 that the plaintiff's claim that the gaming board's employment restrictions against attorneys were unconstitutional.
Susan A. Yocum is an attorney for the state Gaming Control Board, a government agency that regulates casinos and other gaming in the state. She wanted to accept a job representing gaming clients, but the board has certain restrictions that she claimed were hindering her career.
Yocum sought a declaration that the board's rules violated the Pennsylvania Constitution, which "vests ... exclusive authority to govern the practice of law." She also wanted a permanent injunction against the board's restrictions.
Yocum took issue with the gaming board's rule that says no employee of the agency "may directly or indirectly solicit, request, suggest or recommend to any gaming entity the employment of any person for a period of two years from the termination of the person’s employment by the Board."
The gaming board argued that Yocum lacked standing on its post-employment restrictions because she is still employed with the board. The agency said its restrictions are "hypothetical and speculative" and that her request for pre-inforcement review is premature. The agency also argued that its post-employment restrictions do not violate the separation of powers as circumscribed in the state constitution.
The article in the state's constitution that Yocum claimed the board violated states, "The Supreme Court shall have the power to prescribe general rules governing practice, procedure and the conduct of all courts ... including the power to provide for ... admission to the bar and to practice law. ... All laws shall be suspended to the extent that they are inconsistent with rules prescribed under these provisions."
The court found that the gaming board's restrictions apply to all employees, not just attorneys, and therefore are not unconstitutional.
The decision stated, "We conclude there is nothing to prevent attorneys from being subject to both the Rules of Professional Conduct promulgated by this Court under our constitutional authority, and consistent statutory provisions, such as the Gaming Act employment restrictions that apply to all employees of the Gaming Board."
The petition was dismissed, and Yocum was denied relief.