Enyart v. NCBE

For those of you who haven't heard, there has been a legal battle going on within California about whether a blind law student can receive certain accomodations to take the MBE portion of the bar exam as well as the MPRE.  Her requests seem reasonable:  a laptop with large type and a text-to-voice feature that will read the questions into her earbuds.  In fact, a federal court judge agreed and ordered the National Conference of Bar Examiners to provide the same.  (Read the order HERE.)

Now, the NCBE has filed an emergency motion with the Ninth Circuit to suspend execution of the court's order pending appellate review.  Among other reasons cited by the NCBE for failure to provide an accommodation to the plaintiff, Stephanie Enyart, are "security risks" for loading the questions onto a laptop and shipping it to California.  Really?  I am going to hire thugs to waylay the attache carrying the laptop so I can get a look at the MBE questions a couple days in advance?  Besides, haven't they heard of encryption?

As an attorney, I know that what gets reported in the media never tells the complete story, but from what I can determine, Anna Levine, the lead attorney for Enyart, is probably correct when she calls this act by the NCBE "flabbergasting . . . irrational and mean-spirited."

I guess the NCBE is worried about setting a precedent of having to accommodate everyone who claims a disability.  But, guess what, the law requires such accommodation, so long as it is reasonable.  We can argue over what is reasonable, but here, a federal judge has made that determination. 

The NCBE should be careful about its next moves.  Some state bars may call for a move away from the MBE as a form of boycott or protest.  Other states might call for use of a multiple choice test from an alternative vendor.

Could this be the beginning of the end?

[Photo by rafaelmarquez.]


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