Wendall C. Robinson may not be able to pass the D.C. Bar exam, buthe already knows how to file lawsuits.
Robinson, a 1978 graduate of theGeorgetown Law Center and a recent Fulbright scholar, first filed suit seeking to change a rule affecting the bar exam, which he has twice flunked. Now he has charged in a second suit that Chief Judge Theodore R. Newmanof the D.C. Court of Appeals slandered and defamed him by questioning his mental capacity to pass the exam.
On July 20, the day a hearing on thefirst suit was scheduled in U.S. District Court here, Robinson says in thesecond suit that he met Newman in the first floor lobby of the D.C. Courthouse and that the judge, "in a loud and boisterous manner slandered" him "in front of numerous witnesses" by telling him, "You can't pass the bar exam because you are dumb."
Robinson, 34, acting as his own attorney, says in the second suit that the judge's reported remarks "will adversely effect (sic) his ability to pursue his chosen profession in the future" and has asked for $2 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages.
Robinson says he sued Newman, the rest of the court of appeals and bar admissions officials in the first suit because they control the rules governing who gets into the D.C. Bar.
"If I were the chief judge," says Robinson, "I would never take a suit personally. I don't know if he took it personally, but he certainly reacted personally."
Newman declined to say whether he made the remark about Robinson's ability to pass the bar exam, adding, "If in fact I have been sued, it would be entirely inappropriate for me to comment about pending litigation."
D.C. Bar exams are divided into two parts, an essay section and another with 200 multiple choice questions. To pass the exam, a prospective lawyer must average 70 percent.
Robinson said that he flunked both parts the first time he took the test, in July, 1978, but that he received a passing 71.1 on the essay portion of the second test last February, while failing the multiple choice section with 61.1.
Under the D.C. Bar testing rules, a test-taker who passes the multiple choice section, but not the essay portion, can use that passing score when the essay section is taken again. But the rules don't allow a passing essay score to be held over and balanced against future multiple choice test results.
Robinson thinks that's "unfair, if not illegal" and filed the first suit to overturn the rule.
Alexander Stevas, clerk of the D.C. Court of Appeals, said others have questioned the rule as well.
"It's a reasonable request, " he said. But he said that no one so far has petitioned the bar admissions committee to change it. CAPTION: Judge Theodore Newman... charged with slander