Thursday, February 27, 2020

"A Complex Scheme To Cheat" On Bar Exam

A second admission denial in the past two days from the Ohio Supreme Court. As in yesterday's decision, the court's denial prevents reapplication.

This one has an unusual feature - cheating on the bar exam.

The applicant reported issues with the exam software

On Wednesday morning, July 25, [applicant] Bonds approached [test official] Palmer before the start of the exam and told her that on Tuesday evening, he had difficulty uploading his answers from the afternoon. He explained that his screen went black and that when it reappeared, he could see his answers to questions one and two. He was concerned because his answer to question two appeared more like an outline than a complete answer. Bonds said nothing about questions three through six, but he told Palmer that he eventually had been able to upload his answers and that he had received a confirmation e-mail.

Palmer found Bonds’s account to be suspicious because once a test taker exits the Examplify program, the user’s screen displays the message, “You are closing your exam!” Then, when the test taker reenters the program to upload his answers in the evening, the computer screen displays a list of the questions to be uploaded on a bluish background—but the text of the answers is not visible.

Based on the irregularities Bonds had reported, Palmer directed her staff to obtain records from ExamSoft—which tracks every keystroke a test taker makes while working in Examplify and preserves periodic screen shots of the test taker’s work. Those records—which are part of the record in this case—overwhelmingly demonstrate that Bonds failed to follow the rules and instructions during the July 2018 bar exam. Specifically, they show that Bonds failed to exit Examplify when instructed to do so at the expiration of time for questions one and two on Tuesday, July 24. Instead, he kept the file for those questions open and typed into that file the ExamSoft passwords and his own summaries of exam questions three through six. At the end of the third hour, he failed to comply with Palmer’s instruction to exit Examplify and instead put his computer into sleep mode before leaving the exam site. From a remote location that evening, he resumed the exam, deleted the passwords and summaries, and began typing answers. At 7:04 p.m., Examplify was forced to close when the system detected an anomaly between the time kept by the software and the time kept by Bonds’s computer. Bonds reentered the program at 7:13 p.m., closed the file for questions one and two, and uploaded it at 7:17 p.m. He continued to work on the four remaining questions and uploaded the last of the remaining files to the Internet by 9:57 p.m.

Palmer testified that after learning of the irregularities contained in Bonds’s ExamSoft report, she searched for his name on Google and discovered a news article reporting that Bonds had been charged with theft in May 2017. After conducting additional research, Palmer confirmed that Bonds was convicted of unauthorized use of property in the Brunswick Mayor’s Court on May 31, 2017, and that the name, date of birth, and address for the defendant in that case matched the information on file for Bonds in the Office of Bar Admissions. Palmer then reviewed Bonds’s past applications for reexamination and noted that just days after he committed that offense, he signed his application for reexamination for the July 2017. On that application, he denied having exhibited any conduct or behavior since his application to take the February 2017 bar exam that could call into question his ability to practice law in a competent, ethical, and professional manner and swore that his answers were complete and true. He also failed to disclose his May 2017 conviction on the reexamination applications that he submitted for the February and July 2018 bar exams.

The court

we agree with the board’s finding that Bonds has failed to carry his burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that he currently possesses the requisite character, fitness, and moral qualifications to practice law in Ohio. Because Bonds’s dishonest conduct spanned a period of nearly 25 years, included a pattern of failing to provide complete and accurate information regarding his past, and involved a complex scheme to cheat on the July 2018 bar exam for which Bonds has failed to accept responsibility, we find no reason to believe that he will acquire the requisite character, fitness, and moral qualifications in the future.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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