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The Supremes Speak November 9, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.

supreme court


FITSNews – November 9, 2007 – Two days after we broke the story alleging some monkey business relating to the grading of this year’s S.C. Bar Exam, the State Supreme Court has finally responded … well, sort of.

In a statement posted to its website this afternoon, the Supremes say the whole flap started on Halloween when an unspecified error was first reported by an examiner to the Clerk of Court.

“On October 31, 2007, a scoring error reported by the examiner of the Wills, Trusts, and Estates Section, was communicated to the Clerk of Court,” the statement reads. “On November 1, 2007, the full Court was advised of the examiner’s communication and determined that owing to this error the results of the affected section would not be considered. This action, which was posted on this website on November 2, 2007, resulted in twenty additional examinees receiving overall passing scores.”

Accompanying its statement, the Court also published an updated list of those individuals who passed the bar exam (which includes a disproportionately high percentage of white dudes with roman numerals behind their names), along with a breakdown of the passing percentages from the University of South Carolina (91.5%), Charleston Law School (69.9%) and all other schools combined (79.4%).

We applaud the Court for releasing all of this information, but chances are it’s only going to stoke the conflagration, particularly now that the mainstream media has gotten a hold of the story.

Speaking of which, thanks a whole helluva lot to La Socialista for refusing to throw some love the FITS’ gals way in their front-page story this morning. Especially you, news columnsit John Monk.

We thought all those venti mocha frappucinos we shared together at Starbucks’ meant something, dude …



1. anon - November 9, 2007

They also posted a consolidated list of the 6-section passers along with the second tier passers. Who wants to cross check and make a full list?

2. Anonymous - November 9, 2007

Does this mean they deny that the legislator and circuit judge called them?

3. a proud week for SC - November 9, 2007

ahhh, the passive voice. no one actually did anything. it just happened.

(not an original thought of my own, but worth conveying).

4. More Information Please - November 9, 2007

OK, why would a scoring error result in the throwing out of an entire section of the exam? Can’t the Bar Examiners simply correct a scoring error? Furthermore, Representative Harrison (and might I remind you, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee) admitted that he talked to George Hearn (whose wife just happens to be Judge Kay Hearn on the S.C. Court of Appeals and who is VERY interested in sitting on the Supreme Court) about this this section of the bar. How in the world could Catherine Harrison and her father know about the scoring error? Mr. Harrison inquired only as to whether there was an unusually high failure rate, and it just so happens that there was was a scoring error… hmmm? Looking at the high percentage of test-takers who passed the exam, it certainly does not indicate that there was an unusually high failure rate overall. I want to know what this “scoring error” was all about.

5. Wow - November 9, 2007

It’s not about the schools’ respective passage rates. The troubling issue in the episode is the possibility that political influence inserted itself into an allegedly-anonymous process. Two members of the bar have admitted–to the State newspaper–that they contacted a bar examiner, which is a direct violation of the no-contact rule. I’m certainly not a fan of CSOL, but this isn’t about that school.

6. Ridiculous - November 9, 2007

The Supreme Court would have served itself better by giving NO explanation. Embarrassing.

7. usclawstudent07 - November 9, 2007

So we’re supposed to believe that three months after the exam was taken, after two examiners reviewed the failed tests, and a week after the results were released, that the T&E examiner woke up one morning and realized that there was a mistake??? Oh and that mistake happens to benefit one of the state’s most powerful legislator’s daughters.

If you believe that, I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge

8. Anny - November 9, 2007

This is the worse explanation ever. George Hearn, Jim Harrison, Judge Burch and whoever else violated the no contact rule should be put before ODC. Regardless of any error this would have never happened if some regular person would have called them to question it. In fact, if an average Joe had they would have gotten in serious hot water.

This remark by the Court is just absurd. We should demand an answer and that people be held accountable for this mockery.

9. 6-section Bar Passer - November 9, 2007

I’m with Wow. I don’t think this has anything to do with bolstering CSOL’s passage rates — I doubt they improved much with the 20 tier-2 passings, and it may even be true that USC’s passage rate benefited more than CSOL’s. In any case, the passage rate to me is immaterial. I also think it’s illogical to ‘blame’ the 20 in question for the fact that the Supreme Court decided to pass them. The issue, in my mind, is that Rep. Harrison blatantly violated Rule 402, and then had the stones to feed total BS to The State (newspaper) as to why his actions were in compliance.

10. 6 section roman numeral passer - November 9, 2007

As a 6 section passer of the SC Bar Exam this July…there’s nothing wrong with being white and having roman numerals behind your name…just because I’m named after my dad and grandfather doesn’t mean that I got special attention.

11. FITSNews - November 9, 2007

6 Section Dude,

It was a joke. Sic Willie is white and has roman numerals behind his name as well. Three of them, in fact.

Of course you know what they say about “the higher the roman numeral, the worse they are in bed.”

In fact, we’ve been waiting for months for an excuse to make that joke, so thanks!!!


12. Billy Chappel - November 9, 2007

It my understanding that the rule does not prohibit a parent, student or anyone else from contacting the Bar Examiners about the pass fail rates of the exam…it’s public information. Besides…what’s the motivation of an examiner admitting to a mistake? This person is a practicing lawyer not an employee of the court or court administration.

13. Anny - November 9, 2007

Sic: We all appreciate you staying on this. Do not let this die. You have always tried shined a light on what these “jokers” in Columbia are doing and we have finally got them. Someone needs to own up to this complete travesty. South Caroline can do better than what Toal and Harrison are doing here.

14. 6-section Bar Passer - November 9, 2007

Billy Chappel:

After a second reading of the rule I believe you are correct in that a question about the passage rate of the T & E section would not constitute “grading procedures” under the rule. But, I still have a problem with Rep. Harrison’s actions. He used his position in the GA to illicit information from the bar examiners for his daughter’s benefit, and in doing so made a thinly – veiled suggestion that the T & E section should be thrown out. This, in my mind, is inappropriate conduct.

15. Some one who cares - November 9, 2007

I’m amazed. I’ve been watching all of this unfold here for days now. People honestly believe that there is some GRAND conspiracy at play. I’m guessing these are the same people who believe that Bill Clinton was the victim of a “vast right wing conspiracy”.

It’s pretty accepted truth that the simplest explanation is often the correct one. So what seems more likely to you guys, that the five justices of the Supreme Court (one of whom, Beatty, isn’t exactly known as a friend of Harrison’s) the Board of Bar examiners and a Circuit Court judge from (by God) Pageland, SC (nearly 15 people by my count) ALL got together in a clandestine effort to pass the daughters of a judge and a legislator OR that an actual error was made. I guess maybe OJ really was framed, the moon landing really was fake, George Bush really did blow up the World Trade Center and the guy on the grassy knoll really did exist.

As for rule 402, you guys that claim to be lawyers need to learn to read the ENTIRE rule. It is not a “no contact rule” at all. It is limited to contact about the questions and grading procedures. I passed a bar exam once in my life, perhaps the only bar I’ve ever passed, and I did it by considering all the information not just what I wanted to see to help me draw my conclusion. If that’s the way I worked I’d have a job with the State (a la john Monk).

Let it go folks. The notion that a legislator and/or a circuit court judge even have enough sway over the members of the Supreme Court (four of whom will not face reelection by the way) is foolish and if you’d get off you high horse long enough to think about it you’d see that.

16. anonymous - November 9, 2007

Some one who cares…is that you George?

The rule is very clear–First, Rule 402(5)(i) states: 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. That is pretty clear an unambiguous. That rule was clearly not followed here. The results were clearly not final.

Rule 402(i)(7) is also pretty clear. It states: (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.

It is pretty clear that you are not allowed to contact them regarding the questions (which seems to have happened here), the grading (which seems to have happened here) and the applicant’s answers (which seems to have happened here). I don’t know how else you can read that rule other than the obvious way. There is no question George Hearn is a member and there is no question that James Harrison was acting as his daughter’s agent when he contact George Hearn about the grading of the bar exam!! Get real. Your claim it is not a “no contact” rule but that is precisely what it was–as indicated by its title no less.

Yes, 4 of them will not face re-election so they have nothing to lose by going along with throwing out the T&E exam. They don’t stand not to lose anything. And the connection was made earlier and is obvious….Harrison is a powerful member within the legislature, George Hearn is the head of Bar Examiners, Kaye Hearn wants one of the spots that is coming up on the SC Supreme Court. If you think back-alley deals aren’t being made, you aren’t being realistic, you are being naive. I bet you think there was no deal in the early to mid 90’s where the black caucus traded redistricting votes to the republicans in exchange for putting black lawyers on the bench (ala Beatty and Danny Martin).

17. lsb - November 9, 2007

this isn’t anything controversial or conspiracy-based. i’m just wondering if others know specifically what sections they passed or failed beyond their scaled MBE score. all i got was a letter telling me i passed the exam–how do you know how many sections you passed? i know i passed the mbe. so, after that, i could potentially fail one section, right? noone told me whether i “rocked them all” or failed t&e or whatever. is that unusual? [i’m prob not thinking this through- please excuse me if answer is really obvious]

18. Some one who cares - November 9, 2007

First of all… “regarding the questions on any section of the Bar Examination, grading procedures, or an applicant’s answers” That’s called a qualifier……

Asking George Hearn, Jean Toal or any one else what the pass/fail rate of a section is/was doesn’t qualify.

Believe me, I know all too well what back room deals take place. I’d venture to guess much better than you do. That’s why I’m sure there isn’t one here. Wht would the four members that won’t face reelection and the one member who doesn’t like Harrison have to gain…nothing. So why risk it?

As for Hearn, he didn’t support her the last time, what makes you think he will this time.

Aside from all of that, like her or hate her (I’ll reserve how I feel) Jean Toal ain’t dumb!! She’s not going to reduce the results of “back room deal” as you call it to a written order……

19. lsb - November 9, 2007

nevermind, i am dumb. you would have to pass at least 6 to pass in the original group, and these new passees only passed 5 sections. i was having trouble w/ the “6 section bar passer” handle.

20. usclawstudent07 - November 9, 2007

Some one who cares,

Wow. Just wow.

The partners in my law firm who graduated with Justice Toal and have worked with her professionally for 35 years even think there’s foul play.

But you just keep on believing buddy. Your naivete is inspiring.

21. Regina - November 9, 2007

Someone who cares:

I think maybe you care too much

22. anonymous - November 9, 2007

I guess we can just agree to disagree–and that’s okay.

What I do find odd is that everyone I know says there was nothing unusual about the T&E section and yet Catherine Harrison “worked really hard” with her friends to bring this to light. I am trying to figure out what in the world she brought to light when everyone I know says there was generally nothing flawed about the section. And how would SHE know that the T&E examiner had made a scoring error if she didn’t know what the scores were?

Does anyone know who the T&E examiner was? I mean, the announce themselves at the start of the Bar so it’s no big secret. I just haven’t heard.

23. much ado about - November 9, 2007

ha, i didn’t even mean to get involved, but:

“The partners in my law firm who graduated with Justice Toal and have worked with her professionally for 35 years even think there’s foul play.”

hey jerkoff, if the partners in your firm told you the moon was made of swiss cheese, would you eat it? (’cause i would)

there are plenty of bad things you can say about justice toal and whoever else, but one does not generally get to be on the court, or especially be a female chief justice in grand old SC, without earning a certain reputation for integrity. i highly doubt these so-called backroom deals or whatever influenced Jean Toal in any way.

“Wow. Just wow.”

I am wowed by your supreme knowledge (no pun intended) of what’s really going on, usc law student ’07. you must have learned a lot in the past couple of months.

24. Yahoo - November 9, 2007

The Budget and Control Board is behind this. Just mark my words.


25. Insane - November 9, 2007

It is insane that this has all panned out as it has. I mean can you just imagine the conversations that went on that we will never hear about.

Regardless if the WTE question was the worst ever and the grader did the worst job ever, this is completely and totally and utterly unexcusable conduct by the Supreme Court.

I challenge any of the lawyers that read this to go on the record in The State defying a Rule of the Court (No Contact, No Appeal of Bar results, here) and walk away with a law license.

These people must be punished too.

This is worst I have ever seen in SC politics and back-rook deals.

“Will you change the bar results so my daughter will pass?”

“Sure. Anything for you!”

26. realist - November 9, 2007

Someone who cares,

Your explanation is perfectly reasonable. You just left out one thing. You forgot to explain what the daughter of the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee meant when she posted on her Facebook page under the title “Supreme Favors” – “no, its not a joke. if the court was going to overturn the scores on their own they would have done it before the results were first announced. it took some effort.”

Do you have an answer for that one Captain Reality?

27. It’s Who You Know « Not Very Bright - November 9, 2007

[…] ones that have been given so far are not very satisfying. Read the story at FITSNews here, here and here. And the State’s story is here. Kudos to FITSNews for breaking this one, and for staying on […]

28. eldon wedlock - November 9, 2007

your mother.

29. Silence Dogood - November 9, 2007

Billy Chapel, “It my understanding that the rule does not prohibit a parent, student or anyone else from contacting the Bar Examiners about the pass fail rates of the exam…it’s public information.”

Well, for the public information aspect of it, I can’t imagine why you would contact the Supreme Court about it (since it’s already public information), unless of course you were questioning that information and wanted it addressed i.e. reconsidered. It is public information for instance exams which numbers did not pass the bar, by your reading of the rule, one could contact the S.Court or the bar examiners about that too. “Hi, I am exam number 44 which didn’t pass, which is public information, so could you look over that exam again, thanks.” However, such an incredibley tortured reading of the new rule in order consture it allow precisely and exactly what it was meant it prohibit is ludicrous. However, with such rationalizations to get around explicit rules, I can’t help but think whoever really believes that is or will be a fantastic lawyer.

30. truth, justice, and the American way! - November 9, 2007

Maybe Shakespeare got it wrong when he said, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” When he said Denmark, did he really mean South Carolina?

This entire fiasco is shameful. It casts a dark cloud over the State Supreme Court, the South Carolina legislature, the South Carolina Bar, and the role of our state Bar Examiners. The INTEGRITY of our entire state legal system has been called into question.

Wake up, people! This is no conspiracy theory. This really happened. Wasn’t it James Pettigrew who said, “South Carolina is too small to be a country and too big to be an insane asylum.”? What’s going on now is really insane. Is South Carolina destined to remain a backwards state in the eyes of the rest of the nation? While part of me wants to say this is, “laughable, man,” this is actually a tragically sad state of affairs.

We deserve better. Unless people are held accountable, our system will suffer, the same old status quo will continue, and we will deserve exactly what we get. The joke will be on us.

31. Inquiring - November 9, 2007

Someone who cares,

Great explanation. You just forgot to explain one issue. Why did the daughter of the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee post on Facebook under the title “Supreme Favors,” “no its not a joke. if the court was going to overturn the results on their own they would have done it before the results came out. it took some effort.”

Got an explanation for that one Captain Reality?

32. The Truth - November 9, 2007

The list of newcomers:

2. Samantha Sarratt Adair
6. Rachael Anne Akers
19. Evelyn Belicia Ayers
24. Elizabeth Anne Baker
35. Shaheena Ramona Bennett
62. Kendall Renee Burch
122. Sherod Hampton Eadon III
133. Kristen B. Fehsenfeld
172. Matthew Cline Halverstadt
180. Samia H. Hanafi
187. Catherine Salley Harrison
219. Ittris J. Jenkins
229. Renee Sara Kart
263. Cooper Clanton Lynn
361. Rosalind Latrice Sellers
363. Stephen Fulton Shaw
374. Melissa Diane Spivey
418. David Edward Wells
429. Warren Westbrook Wills
436. Courtney Dione Wingate

33. The Judge - November 9, 2007

I go back to my comment that I placed on another of will’s post the other day about Charles Durning’s portrayal of the Governor in The Best Little Whorehouse of Texas.

I think that it is even more appropriate for the situation at hand, to quote: “In the hope for better government…I’ll dance a little side step, now they see me, now they don’t!

Watch the video on YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mNDHTfdn1A

34. ANONYMOUS - November 9, 2007

I would just like to let roman number guy know that no one is impressed that you have a III after your name. Anyone can do that and no one cares. I am a prosecutor and see the biggest rednecks in the state that have a III or IV after their name. So stop taking pride in your self-appointed importance.

35. usclawstudent07 - November 9, 2007

Much ado about,

You missed my point (not surprising given the mental acuity you demonstrate). My point was that even those who know the chief justice think something is strange.

Unless you are the chief justice, I am surprised by your lack of curiosity. I guess if the Chief Justice told you that she threw out the results of the State Bar Exam without explanation and it resulted in the most powerful house member for her respective field getting a basically unheard of break, you would just believe that.

Oh wait.

36. utah - November 9, 2007

only 2 of the 20 are usc law grads. not saying the rest are from csol, just that only 2 went to law school in columbia.

37. A lawyer - November 10, 2007

I’m not a fan of this blog, but you’re doing the state of SC a favor by keeping this story alive. There’s more here. There’s a reason the explanation from the court makes no sense. Keep digging.

38. Skeptic - November 10, 2007

How C.J. Toal is dealing with this, at least as interpreted in The State newspaper’s article on Saturday morning, is very disturbing. She appears to have a total lack of perspective on why this–along with the Supreme Court’s silence–is such a big deal.

If people are concerned enough, they should consider filing complaints against Harrison and Judge Burch with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. There are certainly grounds for concluding that they may have violated the Supreme Court’s anti-contact rule. I’m not sure what Rules of Professional Conduct may have been violated, but their disregard of the rule would certainly reflect on their character and fitness.

39. Billy Chappel - November 10, 2007

Silence Dogood… I think Franklin would be angry your using your screen name. There is no other way to read the law or the rules of the court…the rule does not prohibit communication. it prohibits discussion of what the questions will be(or were in this case), the way they were graded or what a persons answers were. any other information i.e the pass fail rates, comparisons between schools, the weather the day of the exam…are allowed. Otherwise the rule would say…”all communication is prohibited.” If you are a lawyer they should have flunked you instead.

40. Anonymous - November 10, 2007

What’s the deal with George Hearn suddenly getting a bad rap? Anyone who has taken the bar exam knows that he’s the one silver lining to the very big cloud of taking that god-forsaken test. Everything I’ve read has said it was the Supreme Court that made the decision to admit these additional students, not the bar examiners themselves. In fact, according to the quote attributed to Judge Burch in the State newspaper yesterday, when he contacted George Hearn:

“Hearn ‘told him there was no appeal process.'”

41. Anon - November 10, 2007

I am not a recent law grad and I passed the bar over 15 years ago and am a current Bar member, and even I know this stinks. First, given that there is no appeals process, what would possibly make the examiner go back and look for an error after he turned the results in unless he was contacted? The explanation given defies logic. I agree with the earlier statement that if a regular Joe attempted this, he would be facing an ethics investigation right now. Basically, Harrison and Judge Burch have claimed either ignorance of the rule (Judge Burch stated that he knew he couldn’t contact the Supreme Court but did what he could) or that what they did didn’t violate the rule (Harrison claims he didn’t contact on behalf of an individual (i.e. his daughter) but was asking a general question. Yeah, right. I wonder if these defenses would have flown in Judge Burch’s courtroom — “I’m sorry your honor, I was unaware that was a crime.” This whole thing is ridiculous and taints the entire Bar membership — we should all be ashamed to be members of such an organization that would do this. I know I am.

42. Anon - November 10, 2007

On second thought — the Bar membership didn’t do this — the Supreme Court and a few corrupt members of the Bar did — I think the majority of lawyers are outraged — I know all of the ones I have talked to our.

43. South Carolina Supreme Court is still Sketchy | emplawyernot.com - November 10, 2007

[…] he failed some important peoples’ children? Oops. Not cool, Will. As one commentor to the FITS follow-up noted, “why would a scoring error result in the throwing out of an entire section […]

44. Believe It Not - November 10, 2007

You don’t have to be a lawyer to be an idiot, but it helps. Hey guys, save that law school tuition. sic(k) willie proves that it can be done naturally. He’s a natural born idiot. 🙂

45. Daddy...please help! - November 10, 2007

If these Judges, lawmakers and lawyers get away with this it will be one of our State’s darkest days.

The really sad thing is that not a single lawyer in the State is dumb enough to speak. They know what will happen.

I am pretty sure that the Bar/ODC has to respond to lay complaints of lawyer misconduct. That would be enough to get the investigation going.

As for many of The 2O they are not to blame and everyone should be careful if they suggest that all of them were involved in it.

I challenge anyone to come up with a scenario, based on all that we know, that does not involve special treatment or the breaking of Court Rules.

Toal is so arogant to believe they can just say “No comment” and then she go back to boozin’ it up. She and the Court truly believe they are above public scrutiny.

46. Anon - November 10, 2007

Boring — Is that you Catherine?

47. Silence Dogood - November 10, 2007

Billy, Thank you for purporting to know what Ben Franklin do (WWBFD?).

Rule 402 (i)(5) states “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.” I guess upon second reading of that it still doesn’t seem to say to me, “but if you failed and think a section was overly burdensome or flawed, feel free to bring that to our attention, this rule only for individual answers.” Is that how you are reading it? Or did you read it at all? Why did they call it “Regrading or Other Review?” if all they meant to prohibit was regrading.

(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.

So by your reading of that, since you cannot contact any of them regarding the questions themselves, you read that to mean they could contact them about all the question in an entire section? Interesting logic.

I have no idea what kind of attorney you are or if you are one at all, but I wouldn’t dare presume I have the foresight you do, which would allow me to make a proper opinion of what kind of an attorney some one is by reading a few comments on a casual blog message board. I am little hurt you sumised I was a bad attorney though, if I were one, I had noted that such a twisted reading of the rule as you would intend to implement suggested that you would be a fantastic attorney. Why the hate?

48. Regina - November 10, 2007

Hey Fits:

The Greenville News is reporting that they spoke to Dan Shearouse, Clerk of the Supreme Court, who informed them that it’s not the first time a bar section has been thrown out.

He’s right.

In 1997, the year I took the bar, the examiner in charge of the UCC / commercial paper section screwed up and submitted a question from the insurance section of the 1996 exam. The mistake was discovered DURING THE EXAM (not after grading!) and the section was booted.

We benefitted, of course, but it was from ordinary SC incompetence, not dirty backdoor fixin’.

49. Unreal - November 10, 2007

I mean I am just shocked by the whole thing. Somone is hiding something. I agree above that the best course is for a non-lawyer to file a complaint.

50. CSOL 2L - November 10, 2007

I think that 5 of the new passers were from CSoL, maybe 6.

51. Anon - November 10, 2007

Does anyone have any idea how to go about getting this story to the national media? I think that, say, the Washington Post would be very interested in this story and about the actions of Justice Toal, Jim Harrison, and George Hearn.

52. Anon - November 10, 2007

The Wills, Trusts exam grader was an attorney from Laurens who was on the Board of Examiners. Apparently he is not going to regrade Wills, Trusts again in the future.

53. Anon - November 10, 2007

Regina — thanks for clarifying the misleading comment made by our clerk. I wish you would contact The Greenville News and report that as well — anonymously, since we are obviously all afraid of the long arm of the judiciary in this situation. As you pointed out, any kind of an error such as the one made in 1997 would have been discovered IMMEDIATELY and not after the results came out.

And Silence Dogood — your are absolutely correct in your reading of this rule in my opinion, and I have been practicing for over 15 years. As licensed members of the bar, we also have an ethical obligation to report violations of the rules of ethics, although what good it would do to report what our Chief Justice of the Supreme Court already knows about and has rubber-stamped is beyond me. This whole thing is shameful and makes me mad as hell, but what are we going to do about it? I can tell you one thing, anyone who is brought up on ethical violations in the future should raise this as a due process clause. And as mad as this makes me, I can’t imagine how mad it would make the other people who failed the bar and didn’t get their daddy to call about it and get it changed.

And Catherine Harrison — if you are out there — don’t think that there aren’t a lot of attorneys out there who know exactly who you are and what you did, and some of us have long memories. One day your dad won’t be in office to make the phone calls for you. GROW UP!

54. ticked off - November 10, 2007

Poster #53, you are right about how bad this is for those others that failed whose daddy is not a legislator. Some of those who failed probably failed only one essay… it just didn’t happen to be the Wills, Trust essay. How can the Supreme Court not allow those other failing essays to be regraded? I mean the Wills, Trusts essay wasn’t even regraded – it was just thrown out and all failing students of it were given a free pass. It seems like the least the Supreme Court could do is allow an appeal for those other students who failed non-Wills, Trust essays.

I also find it very interesting that George Hearn’s wife, Kay Hearn, is trying to get on the Supreme Court in the near future. George Hearn, again is the head of the SC Board of Examiners. Mr. Harrison, keep in mind, has a whole lot of say when it comes to appointing Supreme Court justices (head of the Judicial Committee). Mr. Hearn would seemingly have a very sufficient motivation for helping Mr. Harrison out.

55. anonymous - November 10, 2007

Well, here are all the lawyers from Laurens, according the Bar. Anyone know who it is? I know several of those lawyers are very political.

Bryan Christopher Able Laurens, SC Laurens
James E. Bryan, Jr. Laurens, SC Laurens
Rhett D. Burney Laurens, SC Laurens
Charles L. Compton Laurens, SC Laurens
W. Reid Cox, Jr. Laurens, SC Laurens
John R. Ferguson Laurens, SC Laurens
Richard Calvin Hill Laurens, SC Laurens
Donald Bruce Hocker Laurens, SC Laurens
Laura Jo Bardsley Houck Laurens, SC Laurens
James W. Johnson, Jr. Laurens, SC Laurens
Nancy Holland Mayer Laurens, SC Laurens
William G. Mayer Laurens, SC Laurens
Albert D. McAlister Laurens, SC Laurens
Paul W. McAlister Laurens, SC Laurens
Joseph W. McGowan, III Laurens, SC Laurens
Chad Alexander Mitchell Laurens, SC Laurens
Saundra S. Moore Laurens, SC Laurens
Clyde Louis Pennington, Jr. Laurens, SC Laurens
Andrew Raynal Laurens, SC Laurens
Thomas J. Thompson Laurens, SC Laurens
Richard T. Townsend Laurens, SC Laurens
John Michael Turner, Jr. Laurens, SC Laurens
John Michael Turner, Sr. Laurens, SC Laurens
Matthew Price Turner Laurens, SC Laurens
J. Edward Wells Laurens, SC Laurens
Robert W. Whitesides Laurens, SC Laurens
Gary Lewis Williams Laurens, SC Laurens

56. anon - November 10, 2007

#52, it would be interesting to know if it was the SCt’s decision not to let him be an examiner again or whether after they threw out his section, his said, screw this, I’m not doing this again.

57. anon - November 10, 2007

#52, did you take the Bar? If you heard or saw the name again, would you remember it? If so, go the Bar’s member directory and look up all the Laurens lawyers–one of them is an associate probate judge, so I wonder if he did the T&E

58. Anon - November 11, 2007

About the WTE examiner — I don’t know who it is, but if I were him/her, I would have quit about the time that they told me that (1) they were throwing out my entire section and wasted huge amounts of my time so that someone’s daddy would be pacified and (2) that they were going to blame the whole thing on me as a “scoring error” (i.e. my fault). I don’t believe these examiners receive any compensation for their time — good luck finding future scapegoats.

59. new info for ya - November 11, 2007

here’s some new information for ya. and boy, it’s a doozy.

kendall burch, the daughter, now bar-passer, sent an email out on oct. 30 (the day before the sc supreme court says the bar examiner came forward to say there was an error on the WTE section), through her govt email which she has as a judicial clerk (which also means the email is attainable through a FOIA request), to several people she thought failed the WTE section. in it, she talks about how her daddy and harrison’s daddy had contacted the powers that be, and that if she could get enough people together who had failed WTE, they might be able to petition to have that section thrown out. she also alluded to the fact that the bar examiner for that section wouldn’t be coming back.

now, here’s some questions for ya:

1) how did daughter-burch, presumably through daddy-burch, know that the examiner was going to be booted the day before he supposedly even came forward to inform the court of the “error” on the section?

2) why isn’t anyone talking about the ethics violations of those new passers who did contact the court or the bar examiners themselves, as seems obvious from daughter-harrison’s facebook posts alluding to all the “hard work” they did?

3) also, the SC supreme court says most states don’t allow challenges to bar results — can someone find out what the actual number of states is that do allow challenges or regrades?

if you ask me, the whole stinkin mess goes back even farther, when, in may of this year, the SC supreme court changed the rules to disallow challenges to bar results, right before the first graduates of CSOL had their first chance to even sit for the bar. now, i am not biased either way towards USC or CSOL, as my allegiances lie in other states, but everyone in SC knows there have been CSOL-haters since the school was just a twinkle in some old, crusty, white dudes’ minds. and it’s also no secret that toal is a CSOL-loather. the conspiracy theory that this was a dirty plot to boost CSOL’s bar passage rates is moot, because in reality, USC came out with more passers due to the booted section. and the disparity in the passage rates between USC and CSOL is what’s really suspect, considering they all took the same bar review course, and CSOL held their own bar review seminars separate and apart from the official review course. unless, of course, USC grads are provided with additional outlines and review materials from their professors that also teach for the bar review course, as has been told to me by several people who took the SC bar review and exam during the last several years (although not from this summer’s exam) and who graduated from law schools other than USC.

there are just a lot of things in SC that make you go hmmmmm. maybe it’s time for me to move back to where i came from! you can bet there’s more to this story that’ll be coming out soon. what will be interesting to see is whether any charges of ethics violations are brought forward, or, as seems typical of this state, swept under the rug. the real losers here are those that failed other sections of the exam and have no recourse to challenge their results. see, the supreme court, because of the new rule it made in may, couldn’t technically review any individual’s exams, they could only throw out the entire section. but it seems clear that at least some people, whether the test-takers or the daddies, were in violation of the no-contact rule. the no-challenge rule is, i think, stupid to begin with. i mean, come on, like there are SOOOO many people taking the bar in SC that allowing people to have their exams regraded would present such an administrative burden? or is that even the reasoning behind disallowing challenges? there was no reasoning given, really. but if the supreme court isn’t going to enforce certain rules, then those rules should not exist.

60. Anonymous - November 11, 2007


Let’s not take our eyes off the ball. This has nothing to do with the bar examiners themselves. Their responsibility ended when they submitted the scores to the supreme court. As we know from the October 26th announcement, the examiners chose NOT to pass those twenty people, including Harrison’s and Burch’s daughters. These addiitonal people passed because our supreme court decided to throw out the WTE section, not because the examiners threw the section out.

It seems to me like George Hearn and the other examiners are receiving the “Richard Jewell” (security guard at the Atlanta Olympics bombing) treatment. They were AGAINST passing these additional folks and yet are taking the fall for it in blogland.

61. anonymous - November 11, 2007

The reason for the disparity in the scores between CSOL and USC Law is probably partially due to the fact that it’s the first year the Charleston law school had students take the bar. Most brand new law schools don’t get 90% passage rates. Also, CSOL most likely took students with lower LSAT scores and GPAs than USC Law. I mean no disrespect to CSOL its just the truth.

62. Skeptic - November 11, 2007

I agree with the write of post #60. Accountability for this situation begins and ends with the five justices of the Supreme Court, the public officials who purportedly violated the anti-contact rule, and those who failed the bar exam and apparently had their well-connected family members lobby on their behalf.

Being a member of the Board of Law Examiners is, I would imagine, a very time-consuming position. I also imagine that, as with other public service endeavors, the testers/graders are not compensated (or compensated only a nominal amount). Those folks provide an important service to the profession and to the state, and should not be thrown under the bus and made scapegoats for this mess.

63. Anonymous - November 11, 2007

Kenneth W. Poston, an attorney in Greenwood, was the one on the Board of Bar Examiners who wrote and graded the “mis-scored” Wills, Trusts section.

64. atticus finch - November 11, 2007

think about this for a minute back to the harrison clan. There is a rule (a regulation if you will) that a bar may not operate within so many feet of a church or place of worship in South Carolina. Maybe that has changed, but papa harrison is partner in some bar/restaurant in columbia that is right next door to a church in downtown columbia. How did he get that to happen? Two guesses:

1) He is the former chief counsel to the now defunct Alcohol Beverage Control Commission
2) He is the chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary committee.

at the end of the day it was nothing to get his daughter flossed through the teeth of the bar and made into an official lawyer, quite frankly we should go back to the days where we could study at home and take the bar and forget about law schools all together.

65. anon - November 11, 2007

My concern with the T&E examiner has nothing to do with whether he was in on it or not. I don’t think he is by the fact that he obviously graded it right the first time and didn’t give a rat’s ass about who failed it. I was only wondering what his background was–in other words, how unlikley is it someone who had a T&E background with “mis-grade” a T&E exam. Apparently, Mr. Poston has quite a T&E background, thus making it all the more likely this rap was pinned on him.

As for the Hearns, don’t underestimate their political connections and political desires. They are second to none and getting Kaye Hearn on the SCT is a top priority for them, I assure you. She may not get her seat this next go round because of all this flap,but I assure you by the time the third justice retires, she’ll have her spot.

I feel sorry for the examiner. I sure as heck would quit too if they did this to me.

66. Anonymous - November 11, 2007

One poster (#36) says 2 of the 20 who suddenly passed were from USC, while another poster (# 50) says 5 or 6 were from CSOL. Were the other 12 to 13 from out of state schools, or does someone have their facts wrong? Also, which law school did the two “connected” test takers go to?

If ONLY 20 of the 500+ test takers were harmed by the “improper” grading of the WT&E section, does that mean that all those who initially “passed” should have failed?

Good thing SC got rid of the “appearance of impropriety” ethics standard, because even if everything was on the up and up, there a several players in this saga who have given the “appearance of impropriety”.

This is not a good day for the legal profession or the South Carolina. : (

67. Anon - November 11, 2007
68. Anonymous - November 11, 2007

FWIW, George Hearn was against the idea of throwing out the WTE section. Several people are hitting the Hearns pretty hard with speculation, but the fact of the matter is that, for better or worse, George disagreed with the Court.

69. The Bar Exam « Not Very Bright - November 11, 2007

[…] 11th, 2007 by notverybright Giving credit where credit is due, FITSNews and its commenters have done a good job of staying on top of the bar exam fiasco. I thought it would be helpful to […]

70. Jimmy Byrnes - November 12, 2007

If that is the case and the Hearns are against the whole situation, if they want to save face for the whole bar and the legal profession in South Carolina, then Judge Kay Hearn will not offer for the State Supreme Court for the next two seats that come available and Jim Harrison will not run for re-election!

Dum Spiro Spero!

71. anon - November 12, 2007

#66, Harrison went to USC and Burch went to CSOL.

72. CSOL 2010 - November 12, 2007

I cross-checked the now-infamous Twenty against the CSOL Student Directory and found that SEVEN of the Twenty are CSOL Alumni. For what it’s worth…

73. Anon - November 12, 2007

Would it make a difference to anyone if it was revealed that the fail rate on the recently thrown out WT&E section was 75%? How about 99%?

74. Nat - November 12, 2007

If that WERE indeed the case, don’t you think the SC Supremes might be more open in their response to the public outcry?

75. Anon - November 12, 2007

Nat, you are trying to apply logic to an illogical situation. That being said, you are correct that a reasonable person (assuming they care about public perception of the SC Bar and the SC Judicial system), with that information would reveal it to put a stop to the rumor mill.

76. anonymous - November 12, 2007

What will be interesting is who will show up tomorrow at swearing in. I doubt anything will be said but I’m interested to see the reaction to any of the accused being sworn in.

77. The Latest « Not Very Bright - November 13, 2007

[…] the bar examiner for the Wills, Trusts, and Estates section.  According to comments left here, that examiner is Kenneth Poston of […]

78. Anon - November 13, 2007

Looks like the story is dying out. It had a good run, but that’s the way things work.

79. SickOfYouBlamingCSOL - November 14, 2007

Wow: What in the world did CSOL do to you that would make you say, I’m certainly not a fan of CSOL… ?It’s a friggin law school for goodness sake not some sexy blonde that stole your cheating boyfriend or girlfriend! Get a grip! It’s a law school that afforded more people in this country the opportunity to get a legal education when USC snubbed its nose at qualified applicants-even some with roman numerals behind their names.

80. SickOfYouBlamingCSOL - November 14, 2007

Utah: Get your story straight! 6 listed above belong to CSOL! 2 from USC? that’s Bogus! Ever thought that maybe people took the bar exam didn’t graduate from a law school in SC? That does happen you know! Jeez louise!

81. Silence Dogood - November 14, 2007

“Looks like the story is dying out. It had a good run, but that’s the way things work.”

Anon, are you serious? There are three times as many blog articles coming out on this story this week than last week. Today there was yet another story in the state paper, as well as an editorial in the Aiken paper? If anything the story might be picking up steam, check out the blog notverybirght.wordpress.com listed above for more on the most recent news coming out about this. Also, as legal blogs and legal news sources from around the country start to pick up on this sit back for S.C.’s legal community to get even more bad press based this.

82. SC - November 14, 2007

You’re right SD, here’s an ABA Journal story on it. How embarrassing for the state.


83. utah - November 15, 2007


I would respond to your comment, but I can’t make heads or tails of what you’re mad about. I stated that 2 of the 20 went to USC. That is accurate. Perhaps a class in reading comprehension would do you well.

84. Anonymous - November 16, 2007

For all you people that think there is no conspiracy occurring within the S.C judicial community, you are shockingly naive. However, all attorneys in S.C. should refrain from making any type of complaint to the Supreme Court or the ODC. I’m familiar with the ODC branch of the S.C. Supreme Court and I can tell you that they only apply the Jucicial Code of Conduct to those attorneys and judges that do not have sufficient political connections. I know a judge that committed multiple ethics violations over a period of several years. This judge also violated numerous defendants’ due process and constitutional rights too many times to count. A complaint was filed with the ODC and the judge has allegedly admitted to every action listed in the complaint. It has been over a year and a half since the complaint was filed, but no action has been taken against this judge. Keep in in mind, everything was well documented and the judge has admitted to it all. The judge is very well connected and friendly with Jean Toal. So, don’t expect any disciplinary action to be taken against any of the attorneys or judges involved in these bar results shenanigans. The good ole boy system in the S.C. legal community takes care of their own and will retaliate against any attorney foolish enough to make a complaint to the OCD about this situation. This latest scandal is just one of many in S.C., it just has the distinction of being widely publicized.

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