Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Intervenors Move to Join in Opposition to Disclosure of Bar Data
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Twenty-three people who have taken the California Bar Exam have filed a motion to join a suit in support of the State Bar’s refusal to turn over State Bar records for use in evaluating law school admission policies, State Bar officials said yesterday.
The proposed intervenors, who are mostly Latino and African American, each applied to take the California Bar Exam at some point between 1972 and 2007, and claimed that they provided personal information to the State Bar because they were promised the information would be used for internal purposes only and not released to anyone outside the State Bar, the organization said in a release.
UCLA law professor Richard Sander, joined by the California First Amendment Coalition and civil rights activist Joe Hicks, petitioned the California Supreme Court in August to direct the State Bar to hand over the bar exam results, gender, race and law school academic credentials of applicants. They asked that the data be redacted to protect the privacy of test takers.
After the state high court declined to hear the case, Sander and his co-plaintiffs filed suit in the San Francisco Superior Court, seeking the information to substantiate Sander’s theory that affirmative action hurts minority law school students.
Sander has claimed that placing unqualified minority students in elite law schools results in lower bar pass rates than if they attended schools where their admissions credentials match those of their classmates, in what he calls a “mismatch effect.”
The State Bar has argued it has no legal right to release such information without the consent of the bar exam applicants and that applicants were assured that the information was confidential and would be used only by the bar to assure the exam’s testing validity.
In their motion, the proposed intervenors claim to “have an independent, substantial and direct interest in the outcome of this case and in making sure that they can be heard.”
They maintain that the disclosure of their personal information would violate their right to privacy under the California Constitution and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and that the State Bar is “legally and morally bound” to protect the confidentiality of that information.
James Chadwick, a partner in Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton’s Menlo Park, Calif. office who represents Sander and others in the case, said that the intervenors are the same group who moved to intervene in the Supreme Court case as well.
“We expected that the intervenors would seek to be involved again,” he said yesterday, although he opined the movants were “misguided” and basing their motion “on a premise that is basically incorrect.”
While he said his clients “were not concerned about the issues [the intervenors] are raising,” Chadwick said his clients had not yet decided how to respond and that he will probably be seeking an extension to file a response.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company