Status conference set on suit filed by disability advocates

A federal judge has scheduled a status conference early this month on a suit filed by disability advocates seeking double time for a dyslexic law student to the take the bar exam.

Lawrence Ashe Jr., an Atlanta attorney hired by the State Bar to handle the case, said the court has not certified a class nor set a time-table to determine if the case is appropriate for class action treatment.

“We think individual disabilities are just that — individual,” Ashe said. “This is not an area where ‘one size fits all’ is appropriate.”

Attorneys for law school graduate Robert Mueller sued the Committee of Bar Examiners in September after it denied Mueller’s request that he be given double time to take the exam.

After hiring its own expert, the committee gave Mueller time and a half. He failed one bar exam and asked that a second not be graded.

Ashe said a large majority of applicants receive the accommodation they request, but whenever there is doubt or insufficient documentation of a disability, the bar turns to outside professional experts.

Testing accommodations were granted to 305 applicants in 1997, down from 335 the previous year, but up significantly from 91 in 1990.

The suit, filed by Disability Rights Advocates of Oakland, accuses the committee of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the plaintiffs’ civil rights under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.