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July 06, 2007

Christian Flunks Bar Exam; Blames The Gays

Hi all!  Lindsay gave me a set of keys to this place while she's away.  I only wish that my first guest-post here could have been under better circumstances.

I'm zuzu; until recently, I blogged over at Feministe.  I'll eventually have a new blog, once the design is finished.

But not having a site of my own doesn't stop me from dishing out some well-deserved mockery, this time to one Stephen Dunne, a Massachusetts man who's blaming his failure to pass the Massachusetts Bar Exam on the gays:

A Boston man who failed the Massachusetts bar exam has filed a federal lawsuit claiming his refusal to answer a test question - related to gay marriage - caused him to flunk the test.

   Stephen Dunne, 30, is suing the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, claiming the “inappropriate” test question violated his religious convictions and his First Amendment rights. Answering the question, Dunne claims, would imply he endorsed gay marriage and parenting.

    The suit also challenges the constitutionality of the 2003 SJC ruling that made Massachusetts the nation’s first state to legalize same-sex marriage.

  Dunne, who describes himself as a Christian and a Democrat, is seeking $9.75 million in damages and wants a jury to prohibit the Board of Bar Examiners from considering the question in his passage of the exam and to order it removed from all future exams.

    “There’s a different forum for that contemporary issue to be discussed, and it’s inappropriate to be on a professional licensing examination,” Dunne told the Herald. “You don’t see questions about partial-birth abortion or abortion on there.”

Oh, Stephen.  Stephen.  People flunk the bar exam all the time.  I've worked with people, had law school classmates, who failed two or three times.  It sucks.  And what sucks worse is that you never really know which questions you got wrong. 

But, honeypie -- none of the people I know who failed the bar simply refused to answer questions because answering them might imply that they approved of, say, the death penalty.  Because that -- well, that would be just stupid.  And who's got the time to quibble when there are so many other questions to get through? 

And in any event, failing the bar exam isn't $9.75 million worth of suck.  Very little is $9.75 million worth of suck.  I don't even think Abner Louima got $9.75 million, and he was violently sodomized with a broomstick in a police station and lost large portions of his intestines. 

You . . . failed the bar exam.

I mean, you did study law, right?  You learned how laws work?  And how court decisions work?  And that knowing what the law *is* and how it works doesn't mean that you approve of the outcome.  Right? I mean, just because I could tell you how the Supreme Court voted in, say, Bush v. Gore doesn't mean that I *approve* of the outcome. 

Let's take a look at the question that got under your skin:

    Dunne scored a 268.866 on the bar exam, just missing a passing grade of 270. The exam question at issue concerns two married lesbian attorneys and their rights regarding a house and two children when one decides to end the marriage.

    “Yesterday, Jane got drunk and hit (her spouse) Mary with a baseball bat, breaking Mary’s leg, when she learned that Mary was having an affair with Lisa,” the bar exam question stated. “As a result, Mary decided to end her marriage with Jane in order to live in her house with Philip, Charles and Lisa. What are the rights of Mary and Jane?”


Um . . . that's it?  That's the question?  A question that you might have found perfectly acceptable had "Jane" been changed to "John"? 

It's a domestic-relations question, Stephen.  It's not a legality-of-gay-marriage question.  And in any event, I don't see where you have to approve or disapprove of Mary and Jane, you just have to determine their respective rights to marital property.  Under the law.  As it stands.  In Massachusetts.  Where you live.  Which recognizes the legality of Mary and Jane's marriage and does not distinguish between the rights of Mary and Jane under this fact pattern or Bill and Ted or Bob and Alice, for that matter.

Though, about that score: seems to me that if you failed by that slim a margin, you must have gotten some other questions wrong, and so an injunction barring the bar examiners from considering that question in calculating your score isn't actually going to help bring your score up to 270.  Perhaps you could try harder next time out.  Pay a little more attention to the procedural questions, maybe. 

But, oh, how I wish I could get my hands on a copy of the complaint in Stephen Dunne v.  Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, No. 07-11166 (D. Mass.)  [That would be a hint, gentle readers.]

Because how can I not want to see the full complaint when the excerpts provided in the Boston Herald are so tantalizing?

Dunne claims the question was used as a “screening device” to identify and penalize him for “refusing to subscribe to a liberal ideology based on ‘secular humanism,’ ”according to his lawsuit.

    “Homosexual conduct is inconsistent with (Dunne’s) Christian practices, beliefs and values, which are protected by the First Amendment,” the lawsuit states.
    “I respect people with alternative lifestyles, and we must do that in a civil society,” Dunne said. “I just have a different opinion that millions of people share with me, and I believe that my opinion should be respected just as much as (pro-gay) opinions. I have no intent in spreading hatred or discrimination.”
    In his court documents, Dunne described homosexuality as a “voluntary human behavior that is changeable.”
     “Societal recognition and perpetuation of rampant homosexuality is neither prudent nor wise,” his lawsuit states.

Well, Stephen, seems to me that being a WATB is also voluntary and changeable. 


H/T: Alas, a Blog, via Shakesville.


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I believe he's representing himself in the case -- I guess he couldn't even find a fellow fundamentalist lawyer to agree with his position.

I failed at medical school because of the homosexual agenda. On anatomy tests I refused to identify the poop chute as the rectum because calling it anything else besides "poop chute" implies that it can be used as both an exit AND an entrance. Well not on my watch, brothers and sisters.

Did I write, "I failed at medical school"? Oops! Should've been "I fail at life."

If he's representing himself, as the saying goes, then he has a fool for a client.

Didn't they teach him about that in law school? For that matter, didn't they teach him about Rule Eleven?

I thought it was us candy-ass liberals who are supposed to do all the whining. If I had only a dime for my every failure, I'd have at least $9.75 million by now.

It's called life Mr. Dunne. Go say a prayer and move on.

For that matter, didn't they teach him about Rule Eleven?

You know, I don't know if that applies to pro se litigants, and he's obviously not an admitted attorney.

And I don't hold out very much hope for him getting a job after this move.

heh. i burst out laughing when i heard this idiot's stunt on the radio. congrats, guy - not only did you fail the bar, but now everyone knows that you did and that you're a poor loser, to boot. good thinking on that one.

Here is a link for the full text of the complaint:

via Metafilter.

Thanks, Jenny!

It's even better than I thought. He's being forced to accept the irreligion of Secular Humanism in violation of the Establishment Clause!

The gay-marriage law amounts to a sociopolitical tax with discriminatory economic consequences for out-of-state residents!

Oh, this is just too good.

One less idiot lawyer available to ascend to the heights of government service in order to create criminalized policy differences and biblical interpretations of established law?

Boo hoo hoo, played on my tiny violin.


For the curious among you, a photo of Mr. Dunne can be found here. (Scroll down to the bottom of the page; he's the first one on the left.)

Isn't it a bit late for this guy to be angling for a job as a US Attorney? Or is he just trying for a job as a Fox Noise legal analyst reporting on the pink pistol gang?

Zuzu: Funny post but I think you might be wrong on one point. Namely, this question likely did mean the difference between his passing or not passing. I know in NY and NJ each essay question is worth around 6 or 7 points. Depending on your answer you can get any or all the points. I have to guess that he'd have been able to get the 1.14 points he needed to pass if he had done even a marginal job of answering the question. Now that's funny!

Zuzu: Funny post but I think you might be wrong on one point. Namely, this question likely did mean the difference between his passing or not passing.

Oh, I don't doubt it, but he'd have to have actually answered it to get the credit. He's essentially asking for a mulligan on that question to boost his score. Because otherwise, there's no way he gets to 270.

And he's estimating his damages for future loss of income and business opportunities due to having to re-take the exam at $2.5 million.

Mind you, he's currently, according to the complaint, in business school, working on his MBA. So there goes the proof on that score.

Mr. Dunne brings to mind Ted Haggard.

I suppose he's claiming he never wanted to join a gay Bar?


"Namely, this question likely did mean the difference between his passing or not passing."

Assuming he made errors in addition to the question he didn't answer, then any one of those would have made the difference. The only way the gay marriage question makes the difference is if you assume his other errors were unavoidable.

If he'd studied harder, he could have skipped the gay marriage question and still passed the bar.

Reminds me of a guy I read about who went to my law school (University of Ottawa). He kept asking a female classmate out, so she went to the Assistant Dean and had him approach the guy and tell him to back off, so the guy sued the woman, the Dean and the University for defamation, claiming he'd been accused of sexual harrasment.

He even tried to take it all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, and wasn't granted leave, so now pretty much every lawyer in the country has heard of this guy. I had two big law firms ask me about him during my interviews in another city this year.

Oh, man. In Passachusetts, no less. Hilarious.

Passachusetts, indeed. There are twelve essay question in Six hours, and only ten of them count. Very vanilla issue-spotting. I managed to pass in spite of cutting off nearly all studying two weeks before the exam.

What a fool. He does not even know to put the title pro se below his signature on the complaint. The complaint itself is rambling and incoherent, the sign of a deluded mind.

Don't count him out of a job in the Bush White House. This may be the most lurcrative failing grade he's ever made.

If "Secular Humanism" is a religion, can I sue my boss for religious discrimination if she fails to give me time off from work to go see "Spamalot"?

He's a Democrat? Right. "Liberal ideology??" The Buzz Words are strong with this one.

Zuzu -

Way to stick this pig, but I want more blood on the ground.

1) You KNOW that this punk did not turn his exam in early for skipping a question. No, undoubtedly he took that time and spent it on other questions, racking up more points than he otherwise would have done. So he wants two bites at the apple - not only does he get to answer the other questions in greater detail and rack more points, but he wants a freebie on the question he did not like.

2) His claim that substantive due process jurisprudence on abortion is not tested on bar exams is absolutely asinine, and justifies his permanent exclusion on character or competence from the practice of law, take your pick.

3) Areas of controversy or local peculiarity are MORE likely, not less likely, to appear on bar exams. Small xample: in my beloved Maryland and in DC, contributory negligence not comparative is the law - contrary to most of the rest of the country. How often is contrib tested in MD? Essentially every time.

4) If I think that it was immoral for English Catholics and Anglicans to invade the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River watersheds, slay substantial numbers of the Nanticoke, Pocomoke, Piscataway and Lenni Lenape nations (among others), seize, settle and subdivide the lands and waters that those nations cultivated, hunted and fished and to parcel such lands and waters into Deeds in the name of an English "Rex" as a Crown Colony, and immoral for us modern Yanks to take title and possession under chains of title leading back to the titles of "Rex", can I skip every real estate question on the Bar Exam that references Blackacre or Blueacre unless its name is changed by the exam proctor with White-Out to Piscataway-acre?

5) To continue the theme, can I be required to answer questions about criminal law or procedure if I think it's immoral to commit murder, robbery or larceny? For me, this is not a theoretical question, since I am deeply morally opposed to all three crimes and can show a 30-odd year history of moral opposition to such crimes, starting with my early following of Superman at age 4.

I could go on, but I want to see this moron laughed all the way to permanent exclusion from all Bars. How can he have standing and the federal court jurisdiction, anyway, to challenging the Mass. the same-sex marriage ruling? To quote Atrios, the stupid, it burns!

Hi Zuzu.

"until recently..." er, uh, I will try not to ask.

speaking as a person who lives in MA and might ever need a lawyer I can only say I am relieved at this turn of events. If he promises only work for the "traditional marriage" lobby, I'd let him practice.

"Secular Humanist's [sic] are Atheists."

And Fundagelical Homophobe's are Chuckleheads.

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