The Legal Beat
Bar Examinees Learn Another Test-Taker Tests Positive For COVID
Posted on Thursday July 30, 2020
And so it begins.
With over 20 jurisdictions holding in-person bar exams this week, many with nominal adherence to basic public health guidelines, it was inevitable that we’d learn that the novel coronavirus also managed to sit for the exam. We’re now hearing that Colorado is the lucky state to have the first news of a positive COVID patient taking the exam:
Colorado had an opportunity to join the enlightened Western states of Utah, Washington, and Oregon and just grant diploma privilege, but decided instead to go forward and characterize advocates as lazy people who “don’t want to take the exam.” In reality, the applicants pushing to call off the possible superspreader event were people who “didn’t want to expose themselves to a deadly virus.”
This will not turn out to be an isolated incident. We have bar exams relying on spot temperature checks despite knowing for months that the virus is highly contagious in pre-symptomatic patients. Those taking the test in other states assuredly exposed themselves too. And unfortunately they may not even get the heads up the Colorado applicants have.
Hopefully, the use of masks and copious hand washing kept the threat contained and no one else is going to get sick. But the unnecessary terror that the bar examiners just heaped upon 200 or so applicants is flat unacceptable.
And, yes, the blame should fall on the Colorado Supreme Court and its bar examiners. Given the timing, it’s
most likely [UPDATE: Sources say the applicant was asymptomatic and got tested for unrelated reasons… which means this went from being mostly the fault of bar examiners to entirely the fault of bar examiners.] that this anonymous student knew they were positive when they took the test and that was an ill-advised and dangerous move, but consider the hand they were dealt. The powers-that-be who are supposed to be protecting the profession stacked the incentives this way. They’re the ones who said, “Take this test now or you won’t be able to get your license in time to start work… in a global economic crisis where attorneys are getting furloughed and laid off.” In that universe, variations of “we told people not to come if they were sick” are basically the echoes of a bully declaring “stop hitting yourself.”
Generally speaking, it’s a cop out move to place all the blame on the least powerful actor for carrying through on a bad decision set up by the policies of the more powerful. The powerful should bear that responsibility. It’s a lesson the rest of us learned from Spider-Man.
In the meantime, everyone who took the bar exam this week needs to quarantine themselves from friends and loved ones now. After persevering through the most grueling examination of their lives, they can’t even trust themselves not to infect people they care about. That’s their prize for playing their parts in this hazing ritual.
All this risk and cruelty when there is no data supporting the necessity of the bar exam. It’s just a f**king game to these people.
Earlier: Amid Infection Spike, State Supreme Court Doubles Down On July In-Person Exam
Bar Exam Spokesperson Tells Newspaper That Folks Worried About Health Are Just Lazy
Hey, Law School Students! State Offering $18/Hour To Sit In The Middle Of COVID Superspreader Event!
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.