RE: Amendments to Rule 402, SCACR
The South Carolina Board of Law Examiners is responsible for preparing and grading the essay portion of the South Carolina Bar Examination. Before determining that an applicant has failed an essay section of the examination, the Board conducts an extensive internal review process. This process includes the grading of the failing section on at least two separate occasions with the applicant being given the benefit of the highest score.
Under our current rule, applicants are allowed to review and seek re-grading of their papers. In this regard, South Carolina is one of only a very few states to allow for review and re-grading after the examination results have been released.
In our opinion, the internal review process conducted by the Board is more than sufficient to insure that any error in grading is determined before the examination results are released. Therefore, we have decided to delete the current provisions allowing for review and re-grading after the results are released, bringing this jurisdiction in line with the overwhelming majority of other jurisdictions.
Accordingly, pursuant to Article V, §4 of the South Carolina Constitution, Rule 402(i), SCACR, is amended to read as follows:
(i) Bar Examination.
(1) When Given. The Bar Examination shall be conducted twice each year on the last consecutive Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in February and July.
(2) Content; Grading; Passing. The Bar Examination shall consist of seven (7) sections. Six (6) of these sections shall be composed of essay questions prepared by the Board of Law Examiners. The Chair of the Board shall assign a member of the Board to prepare and grade or supervise the preparation and grading of each essay section. The Multistate Bar Examination shall be the seventh (7th) section. To pass the Multistate portion of the Examination, an applicant must attain a scaled score of at least 125. To pass an essay section, the applicant must obtain a score of seventy (70). Once an applicant reaches seventy (70) points on an essay section, that section will receive a passing grade and will not be graded further. An applicant must pass six (6) of the seven (7) sections to pass the Bar Examination; provided, however, that an applicant who receives a scaled score of 110 or less on the Mulitstate Bar Examination shall fail the Bar Examination without any grading of the essay questions. The Board shall notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court of the results of the essay sections.
(3) Anonymous Grading; Prohibited Comments in Answer Sheets and Booklets. Applicants taking the Bar Examination shall be assigned an identification number that shall be used for the purposes of taking and grading the Examination. Except for the identification number and any other information the applicant may be directed to provide by those administering the Examination, answer sheets or booklets for the Examination shall contain no other information revealing the identity of the applicant. Any reference to the applicant's economic status, social standing, employment, personal hardship or other extraneous information in the answer sheets or booklets is prohibited.
(4) Notification of Results. The Clerk of the Supreme Court shall send a letter to each applicant advising the applicant whether the applicant passed or failed the Bar Examination. Additionally, the names of those passing the Examination and the identification numbers of those failing the Examination shall be posted on the South Carolina Judicial Department Website.
(5) Access to Examination Answers; Re-grading or Other Review. No applicant shall be given access to the answers the applicant submitted during the examination. The results reported by the Board of Law Examiners are final, and no applicant shall be allowed to seek re-grading or any other review of the results of the examination.
(6) Request for Verification of Multistate Bar Examination. While no review or inspection of the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) will be permitted, an applicant may request a hand grading of the MBE. Any such request must be filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court along with the applicable fee within fifteen days of the date of the letter of notification in (4) above.
(7) Prohibited Contacts. An applicant shall not, either directly or through an agent, contact any member or associate member of the Board of Law Examiners or any member of the Supreme Court regarding the questions on any section of the Bar Examination, grading procedures, or an applicant's answers. This provision does not prohibit an applicant from seeking verification of the MBE score as permitted by (6) above.
(8) Cheating on the Bar Examination. An applicant who cheats, aids or assists another applicant in cheating on the Bar Examination, or attempts to cheat or aid or assist another in cheating, shall be guilty of contempt of the Supreme Court of South Carolina and may be punished accordingly. In addition, if it is determined that an applicant has cheated or aided or assisted another in cheating, the applicant shall fail the examination and the Court may prohibit the applicant from reapplying for up to five years. Further, if the applicant has already been admitted, the Court may vacate the admission or discipline the lawyer under Rule 413, SCACR.
This amendment shall be effective June 1, 2007, and shall apply to all bar examinations conducted after that date.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/Jean H. Toal
s/E.C. Burnett, III J.
s/Costa M. Pleicones J.
John H. Waller, Jr., not participating.
Columbia, South Carolina
March 12, 2007