CHARLESTON - A West Virginia man has filed a suit against the state Board of Law Examiners, seeking to have a successful Tennessee test bar exam count toward his West Virginia score.
Jason Barnette filed the suit Sept. 4 in Kanawha Circuit Court, against the West Virginia Board of Law Examiners and Lawrence M. Schultz.
According to the suit, Barnette took the West Virginia and Tennessee Bar Examination in February 2008. He claims he passed the Tennessee test, but failed the one in West Virginia.
Barnette claims he applied to retake the West Virginia exam, which consists of two major components and a multi-state bar exam, the MBE, as well as an essay part. Barnette requested that his MBE score from the Tennessee exam to be applied to his West Virginia State Bar Examination.
According to the suit, the board denied Barnette's request. Barnette claims the board has allowed other applicants in similar situations to apply their MBE scores to West Virginia exams.
"For example, an applicant who too the Virginia and Tennessee examinations simultaneously, failed the Virginia examination and passed the Tennessee examination, has been allowed to apply the passing Tennessee MBE sore to a future West Virginia examination," the suit says.
Barnette claims the board in penalizing him for taking the West Virginia exam at the same time he took the test in Tennessee, the suit says.
According to the Rules of Admission to the Practice of Law in West Virginia, an applicant who successfully completed a bar exam in another state within 13 months of the current exam can use that score in lieu of taking the multi-state bar exam in West Virginia.
Using that rule, Barnette claims his Tennessee score should be used. Barnette seeks a mandamus petition, allowing him to apply his multi-state bar examination score from his successful Tennessee score to his West Virginia State Bar Examination.
Attorney Jason L. Matthews is representing Barnette. The case has been assigned to Judge Charles King.
This is the second suit filed against the Board of Law Examiners in recent months.
In July, Shannon Kelly filed a suit in federal court demanding four days to finish the exam that most law school graduates finish in two days. He cited learning deficiencies as the reason.
Kelly had received a score of 253 last year, 17 points fewer than he needed to pass the exam. He had asked for four days to take the exam, but the board had granted three.
The Board of Law Examiners later asked that Kelly's suit be dismissed, saying the examiners didn't have to state their reasons for denying his accommodation request and that no formal appeals process exists for disability accommodations.
Kanawha Circuit Court case number 08-C-1703