‘I wished it was a prank’: Kentucky law graduates receive incorrect bar exam results

The thrill of passing the bar exam in Kentucky was fleeting for 15 aspiring lawyers, who discovered three days later that they had failed.

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According to the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions, 18 people were “informed incorrectly” by email about their bar exam results. Fifteen people who were told they had passed, had not; while three who thought they had failed the exam had passed, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Applicants who had taken the Oct. 5-6, 2020 Kentucky Remote Bar Examination were informed about a scoring error that was discovered after the test results were released on Monday, WHAS reported.

Valetta Browne, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Bar Admissions, apologized in a statement that was shared on the agency’s website Friday morning, apologizing for the incorrect results and pointing to an error in data entry.

“I know that no apology can undo the anguish and disappointment that these Bar examinees and their families have endured,” Browne stated in the release. “We sincerely regret this mistake, which was the result of a data entry error.”

The apology did not soothe the disappointment of the applicants.

“It’s like having all of your hopes and dreams, you succeed and got those and they’re like, ‘Oh no, we’re going to take that back,’ and it’s impossible to describe that kind of disappointment,” Timothy Poole told WLKY after receiving a telephone call Thursday. “I wished it had been a prank. That’s what it felt like at first, so after the phone call I even tried calling back the number and it was indeed the Kentucky Bar Association.”

Andrew Skomorowsky was similarly blindsided by the news. Believing he had passed the exam, he sent in his bar dues and looked forward to be sworn in as a lawyer on Dec. 18, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

Instead, a telephone call at 4:24 p.m. ET turned his world upside down.

“It felt like a punch in the gut,” Skomorowsky told the Courier-Journal. “I was deeply hurt, angry and embarrassed.”

Shannon Ragland, who runs the Kentucky Trial Court Review website, shared several messages of frustration and called the scoring error a “fiasco.”

“This sucks,” Ragland said in a post on his Kentucky Trial Court Facebook page. “Wrenching. Awful. The worst ever. The entire Kentucky bar is behind you. They are outraged.”

Brown said the error occurred when an applicant’s identifying information was entered twice into a spreadsheet, causing other scores to be assigned to the wrong person, the newspaper reported.

Kentucky state Rep. Jason Nemes tweeted that “Heads have to roll for this. It is incredible and unacceptable.”

Nemes added that he wants to hold a hearing to discuss the error, WHAS reported.

The Board of Bar Examiners and the Kentucky Supreme Court waived the application fees for February 2021 exams for those people who received a passing grade in error, the Herald-Leader reported.

Skomorowsky is not sure if he will take the exam for the fourth time.

“I probably will, but I don’t know that for sure,” Skomorowsky told WHAS. “This has been a pretty disheartening experience. I’m still reeling with the sensation that I was walking along and having a great week and then someone dropped a piano on my head.”

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