Thursday, January 31, 2013

Another reminder to 1Ls that following instructions matters

In connection with the legal research and writing course I teach, I'm often looking for real-life examples from practice that illustrate the consequences of failing to comply with what students sometimes perceive as overly-technical rules on page length, fonts, citation form and the like.  Well, here's an example that should make their collective hair stand on end and turn white; a law grad was denied bar admission for failing to put down her pen after time was called on the bar exam. According to witnesses interviewed by the Kentucky bar officials who conducted the  investigation, the student in question continued to write for about 60 seconds after time was up.  That, and then lying about it, was enough to keep her from gaining admission to the bar.

From the National Law Journal:

The Ohio Supreme Court has refused bar admission to a graduate who witnesses accused of continuing to write down answers to the bar examination after time was called.

In a January 29 decision, the court denied admission to Jasmine Parker, a 2011 graduate of Northern Kentucky University Chase College of Law who sat for the Ohio exam in July 2011. The court found that Parker lacked the character and fitness to become licensed, but said she could reapply in February.

The decision followed an investigation by the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Commissioners on Character and Fitness. The panel reported accusations by two test-takers that they had seen Parker continue to answer three sets of questions on two separate days after test proctors announced that time was up.

One said that Parker continued to write for up to 60 seconds after the call; another that she had continued long enough to complete two lines of writing on her answer sheet. Both witnesses said they also had seen Parker continue to answer additional questions very briefly after time was called.

As a result of the investigation, the Ohio Board of Bar Examiners reviewed Parker's answers to four essay questions and awarded her zero points for the question with the highest-point value. Even so, she passed the exam.

. . . .

The Ohio Supreme Court, in an unsigned opinion, said it had considered Parker's response to the allegations of cheating. When initially confronted, she adamantly denied the allegations and said that her accusers were lying, according to a letter to bar examiners from the Ohio director of admissions. She said the accusations were malicious, false and unfounded, according to the director's letter.

However, during hearings that followed, she said that she didn't recall writing beyond the allotted time but said it was possible that she had done so.

Her conduct during the exam and her response to the investigation warranted rejecting her bar application, the court found. However, it also noted her regret.

"In light of Parker's sincere remorse and her maturation as a result of this experience, we permit Parker to reapply for admission to the bar on or after February 1, 2013," the justices wrote.


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