California licensees can face license discipline or denial not only for allegations of wrongdoing or criminal convictions, but also due to prior discipline of licenses held in other states. Although this can happen among any of the professions, the most common professions where other state discipline impacts a California license are physicians and nurses. It does not matter if the California licensee lives in another state, and the discipline happened also outside of California, as long as they have among their licenses a California license, the California licensing agency has jurisdiction to seek discipline (or use other state discipline as a ground for denial).
In the case of Marek v. Board of Podiatric Medicine, (1993)16 Cal.App.4th 1089, a California court of appeal found that a California licensing agency does not have to prove the conduct underlying the other state discipline in order to discipline a California licensee. The Marek rule limits the ability of a California licensee or license applicant to challenge the disciplinary order previously handed down from another jurisdiction. Therefore, if a California licensee has suffered prior discipline in another state, the question is usually not whether the licensee will be disciplined in California, but instead how severe the discipline will be.
However, I must hasten to point out that the Marek rule should not be understood to mean that other state discipline can never be challenged, or that a California licensee must be disciplined in this situation. Even if there are grounds to discipline a license, the fundamental question of all California license discipline proceedings is the extent to which the public must be protected. It may be that the other state discipline merits no discipline at all in California. I can think of at least four scenarios where this might be the case. First, the unlawful conduct in another state is actually lawful in California. Second, the other state discipline is so remote in time that it is hardly relevant to the licensee’s current professional practice. Third, the record of the other state discipline has been somehow sealed, destroyed, removed, cleared, expunged, etc. Or fourth, California has no equivalent to the other state discipline.
This fourth scenario points to the other issue when a California licensee is being disciplined for prior discipline in another state. Typically, the California agency will seek equivalent discipline in California. This is sometimes a simple task, for example, to my knowledge all states issue reprimands and all states revoke licenses. However, another state may issue some type of order or decree that lacks a California equivalent. Likewise, a licensed professional may suffer discipline in several states but the degree of discipline may vary from state to state. Obviously, a license lawyer will argue that California should align its discipline with the least punitive of the other jurisdictions.
Other state discipline, despite the relatively simple rules of the Marek case, present challenging and potentially complex issues. Thoughtful analysis of the other state discipline can yield very positive results in the California matter.