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Woman Claims Bar Exam Was Flawed, Files Court Complaint

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

What causes of action, if any, does a law student have against bar examiners for failing her?

No, this is not a cruel bar exam question. It is a question in a lawsuit pending in a Mississippi court, where Zundria Crawford has filed a complaint over her failed bar exam results.

Crawford claims she didn't fail the bar, rather the bar failed her. Her complaint looks like a Hail Mary, but many other examinees who have failed may be praying it flies.

Judicial Immunity

Judge Denise Owens will decide whether Crawford can even proceed with her case in Hinds County Chancery Court, where the court must approve any complaint filed against a state entity. Assistant Attorney General Harold Pizzetta says it won't go forward because of judicial immunity.

But Crawford is undaunted, having already twice appealed the bar examiners' grading. Mississippi's Board of Bar Admissions apparently is the only one in the country to allow two appeals.

Under its appellate procedure, the board is required to provide copies of the exam questions, model answers, and the applicant's original answer. The review does not include multi-state bar exam questions.

Crawford claims the board misgraded her multi-state performance test, which accounted for 15 percent of her score. She says she received two points of 30 possible on the section; the board says she scored 16.

Not Alone

Fifty-six people failed the February exam, about two-thirds of the test-takers in Mississippi. It was one of the worst pass-rates in the country, even though the test is not very difficult compared to other states.

Crawford isn't alone as a student to sue over a failed exam, either. Tamara Wyche, a Harvard graduate, sued New York bar examiners after she failed the exam twice.

Wyche claimed the bar denied her accommodations for anxiety and cognitive deficits, and she passed the exam on her third try after being accommodated.

In any case, bar exams are tough all around. Last year, Oklahoma lowered its exam standards and California is considering the same.

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