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California Supreme Court Allows Disabled Law Student to Take Bar Exam

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The California State Bar initially refused a disabled law student to take the bar exam, but thankfully, the State Supreme Court sent last-minute approval for her to take the test last Monday, July 27.

Sara Granda, who graduated from the University of California, Davis last May, and who had been studying for the bar exam ever since, had arranged for accommodations for her handicap in advance. However, the California State Bar claimed there were “registration problems”—that she had not properly registered by the June 15 deadline—and that she would not be admitted to take the bar exam as planned.

The state had agreed to pay the approximately $600 fee for Ms. Granda, as part of her disability support, which she had confirmed with the state bar. However, the online registration requires the fee to be paid with a credit card. Ms. Granda lives solely on her disability benefits and has no credit card, so the application was never processed—even though she had discussed the complex negotiations for the fee with the state bar in advance.

The case caught the attention of The Sacramento Bee and then also received notice from the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who sent the letter to the State Supreme Court. The court’s order was made without explanation, but Gail Murphy, a bar association official, said applicants whose fees were paid by a state agency normally asked for the registration forms on paper and that the law governing the exam prohibited bar examiners to accept applications past the deadline.

Granda stated that she is tired of being on public assistance, and looks forward to beginning her career as an attorney. She was paralyzed from the neck down after an automobile accident in July 1997, and breathes with the help of a ventilator. She earned her law degree with the help of aides.