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BLE will strike broad question, revise other

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The Indiana Supreme Court’s Board of Law Examiners is cutting one controversial question from its annual bar exam application and will revise another in order to comply with a federal judge’s recent ruling.

U.S. Judge Tanya Walton Pratt in the Southern District of Indiana ruled Sept. 20 that Question 23 on the state’s bar exam application violates the Americans with Disabilities Act because it too broadly asks potential lawyers about their mental health back to age 16. She also ruled that three other questions were permissible because they focused more specifically on medical history and mental and psychological conditions that might impact one’s current practice of law.

Her ruling in the case of ACLU-Indiana – Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis Chapter, and Amanda Perdue, et al. v. The Individual Members of the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners, No. 1:09-CV-0842, granted and denied summary judgment motions from both sides, and the attorneys today filed a joint submission of proposed judgment as the judge had requested.

The submission addresses the specifics of Judge Pratt’s ruling but doesn’t waive the right for either party to appeal her decision on the questions.

Indianapolis attorney and BLE chair Jon Laramore said the state will immediately stop using Question 23 on the applications for the February 2012 bar exam. The applications are posted online and will be revised as soon as possible, although he pointed out that any applications downloaded prior to that change would still include the question at issue. If anyone submits an application with answers to that question, the BLE will disregard those responses, Laramore said. The BLE will revise Question 22, although final language hasn’t yet been approved, he said.

“We believe that the revised question, along with other questions on the application, will allow us to obtain all the information we need to evaluate applicants’ character and fitness,” Laramore wrote in an email to Indiana Lawyer.

Judge Pratt will issue a final order in the case, and from there the parties will have an opportunity to appeal to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Both Laramore and the ACLU of Indiana’s legal director Ken Falk said no official decisions have been made on the possibility of appeal at this time.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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