After five years, woman who claims her failed bar exam was misgraded is still fighting results

Mildred Europa Taylor August 17, 2020
Zundria Crawford via Clarion Ledger

When Zundria Crawford took the Mississippi bar exam to become a licensed attorney in the state in 2015, the Board of Bar Admission said she failed. It’s been five years and Crawford has refused to take the exam again. She has rather filed many legal challenges in court, claiming her bar exam was misgraded.

Last week, the state Supreme Court denied the Cleveland woman’s motion for them to step aside from her case where she is attempting to appeal her failed bar exam, the Clarion Ledger reported. Her court motion says: “My God! The patients are running the asylum.” “What in the kangaroo-court is gong on here.”

Crawford first made a complaint in June 2017 in Hinds County Chancery Court seeking permission to file a lawsuit against the Board of Bar Admission and others, claiming the board didn’t properly grade her exam based on model answers.

State rules say one must require approval from a court to file such a lawsuit against a state entity. Hinds County Chancery Judge Denise Owens, however, denied her the right to file a lawsuit against the board.

“Crawford filed a show cause motion to hold Owens in contempt for allegedly failing to rule whether to allow her to supplement the record when the case was sent back to the judge. The state Supreme Court denied Crawford’s motion to hold Owens in contempt,” according to the Clarion Ledger.

When Crawford first filed a complaint in June 2017, Hinds County Chancery Judge Owens in her ruling said “all failing bar exam applicants were treated in the exact same manner.”

Crawford was then given 45 days from that 2017 ruling to file any briefs in the case. That same year, during a hearing in Hinds County Chancery Court, Assistant Attorney General Harold Pizzetta argued Crawford could not sue the board because it has judicial immunity. 

Pizzetta added the board gave Crawford “a detailed explanation of her scores and afforded her the opportunity to request copies of the examination questions, her answers, model answers and analyses.”

Crawford appealed to the board the grades she received on four Mississippi State Essay (MSE) questions as well as the grade given her on the Multistate Performance Test.

The board appointed a three-member committee to look into her complaints. The committee “determined that her answers to MSE questions … had not been substantially misgraded to an extent that the result of the examination was affected, and her appeal was denied,” Pizzetta said in a court document.

Most people who have failed the exam did retake it but Crawford has refused, saying she believes she passed it and that she was deprived of her rights. She further argues that her case “will affect all applicants for the Mississippi Bar.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 17, 2020


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