Monday, January 28, 2008


I have not paid much attention to the S.C. Bar Exam scandal. To me it simply sounded like business as usual in our small state; A couple of well connected people worked the system to benefit their family or friends.

It has seen noteworthy focus at Not Very Bright (use the search feature to find the articles), and every major paper has at least mentioned it.

The crux of the story is, due to a scoring error on one section of the test, 1 person passed the test who should not have. To correct this error the supreme court justices decided to toss that section of the test and as a result, 20 more people passed.

Two of those who has failed but due to this action have now passed the bar just happened to be children of well connected and powerful members of our political/legal system. To make matters worse, it is rather apparent from post seen on facebook pages (or similar social interaction networks) that the students who failed where aware that efforts were being made to 'fix' the situation.

To me this is depressing, disgusting, but nothing new.

What I find interesting is the reasoning provided to try to explain this away.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal said the court was faced with three “pretty unpalatable choices” — one of which almost certainly would have brought a lawsuit the court wanted to avoid.

“You might have made this decision differently,” Toal told about 300 attorneys and guests at the S.C. Bar’s annual convention. “But one thing of which you can be absolutely sure is this: Your Supreme Court made this decision with the sole motivation of trying to be fair.


How is this fair?

What of all the other lawyers who did pass? Passing the bar is suppose to indicate that a standard has been achieved. Now we have twenty lawyers who are clearly deficient, but approved.

What about the people of the state? We place our trust in a system that is suppose to assure that those taking pay for their services are qualified. Now we have at least 20 who should have an asterisk by their names. How often are these games played, and how many lawyers have not actually passed the bar? It is now a legitimate question.

I work in a profession where certifications are vital. The integrity of the system is upheld above all else. Without strictly upheld standards, the certifications become useless. What is The Supreme Court telling us about the lawyers in our state?

For the South Carolina Supreme Court and as a result the S.C. Bar, it appears certification is not about competency or integrity, but fairness. And not fairness for the people of the state, or those who have followed the rules, but for the 21 students who did not have what it takes to pass the test without outside intervention.


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