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Law school reject sues to take bar exam

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An Indianapolis man is suing the state Supreme Court justices and Board of Law Examiners because he believes he should be able to take the bar exam even if he didn't go to law school.

Clarence K. Carter claims Admission Rule 13, which provides the educational requirements to sit for the exam, violates his rights to due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

Rule 13 establishes the minimum educational prerequisites someone needs in order to take the bar exam: graduating from an American Bar Association-approved law school, completion of the law course required for graduation, and completion of two cumulative semester hours of legal ethics or professional responsibility at an approved law school.

Carter applied to 13 ABA-approved law schools between September 2007 and May 2009 and was denied admission to all of them.

The case, Carter v. Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court for the State of Indiana and Executive Director and Members of the State Board of Law Examiners for the State of Indiana, No. 1:10-CV-41, was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division.

Carter believes Rule 13 violates his due process rights because the rule unconstitutionally prejudges him as "being unfit and incompetent to practice law" here, doesn't allow him the chance to prove his fitness, and believes the educational requirements have no connection to his fitness and ability to practice law in Indiana.

Carter also argued the rule arbitrarily excludes him from the chance to qualify to practice here because of the law schools' admission denials. The suit alleges the rule unconstitutionally denies equal opportunity to qualify to practice law here to those who can't get into law school or can't afford to attend law school.

Carter wants Rule 13 declared unconstitutional, prevent Rule 13 from being enforced, and allow Carter and others who haven't attended law school to prove fitness and capacity to practice law in Indiana.

This is the third suit filed in the past year dealing in some way with fitness and character to join the bar. In December 2009, a lawyer in good standing in Kansas who lives in Fort Wayne filed suit against the BLE in Bryan J. Brown v. Dr. Elizabeth Bowman, Terry Harrel, et al., No. 1:09-CV-346, because he believes the board was biased and discriminatory based on his religious beliefs when it referred him to the Indiana Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program. In July 2009, a Porter County woman filed a federal suit against the BLE in Jane Doe, et al. v. The Individual Members of the Indiana State Board of Law Examiners, No. 1:09-CV-842, charging that certain questions regarding fitness violate her ADA rights relating to mental health.

On Jan. 8, 2010, Magistrate Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson in Doe denied in part the BLE's motion for a protective order to prevent the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana from getting confidential information about bar applicants' answers to questions.

Magistrate Judge Magnus-Stinson found the plaintiffs made the requisite showing that "the need for truth" outweighs the importance of the confidentiality policy set forth in Indiana Admission and Discipline Rule 19(3) because the plaintiffs only want anonymous aggregate statistical data from the two most recent bar exams. She ordered the BLE to provide the specified information no later than Jan. 29, and that the plaintiffs must not disclose this information without giving the BLE advance notice in case it wants to prevent the disclosure.

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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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