Stephen Dunne failed the 2007 Massachusetts Bar Exam and claims that it was all because there was a question on the exam in which a gay married couple was the factual backdrop. Dunne apparently scored a 268.866 on the exam, but needed a 270. Its all the fault of the gay agenda, apparently.
His complaint is a 44 page sometimes rambling exercise in regurgitation of everything that Bill O’Reilly tells his viewers to say.
I can see why Dunne couldn’t pass the bar exam. I also believe that the character and fitness committee should re-evaluate his candidacy. Furthermore, the unnamed, but “prestigious” (according to him) law school that admitted him just lost a little prestige. See Stephen Dunne v. The Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, No. 07-11166 (D. Mass.).
When I was studying for the Massachusetts Bar, I had a pretty bad accident that landed me in the hospital for a week. As a result, my studying time was three weeks. I had to do some triage. I decided that I wouldn’t bother to study corporations or wills since statistically they were least likely to be on the exam. Wouldn’t you know it? Both were on the exam – and I decided to just skip those questions and focus on the other eight. I still passed. Well, I didn’t completely skip them. I just wrote any gibberish I could come up with — figuring that I might as well take a stab at it. But, for all intents and purposes, I left two essay questions blank.
For Mr. Dunne to claim that he failed because of this one question is in itself inherently dishonest.
Here is the question that he apparently could not answer due to his “religious beliefs”:
4. Mary and Jane, both attorneys, were married two years ago in Massachusetts. The day before their marriage, Mary and Jane each fully disclosed their assets to the other and signed an antenuptial agreement (the “Agreement”) in which each of them agreed that if they were ever divorced (i) they would divide any joint marital property evenly, (ii) they would not seek or accept any property that the other brought into the marriage, and (iii) they would not seek or accept child support or alimony from the other. The Agreement was drafted and reviewed by an attorney representing Jane. Mary did not hire an attorney to review the Agreement as she “trusted Jane.”
At the time of the marriage Jane had a two year old adopted child, Philip, and Mary was three months pregnant. When Mary gave birth in Boston six months later to Charles, Mary and Jane were listed on his birth certificate as his parents. Mary has treated and referred to Philip as her son, although she did not adopt him. Mary, Jane, Philip and Charles lived in a house in Boston owned by both Mary and Jane. The down payment for this house came only from Mary. Jane was the sole supporter of the family, while Mary stayed at home taking care of Philip and Charles. Mary had no savings, while Jane had over a million dollars in savings from
an inheritance that she received when her mother died three years ago.
Yesterday Jane got drunk and hit Mary with a baseball bat, breaking Mary’s leg, when she learned that Mary was having an affair with Lisa. 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?
The question, contrary to Dunne’s complaint, does not require that he endorse homosexual marriage. It asks “What are the rights of Mary and Jane?” It does not ask “what does your superstition tell you that their rights should be?” It is a pretty simple domestic relations question. This is how Mr. Dunne should have answered the question (consistent with his stated beliefs):
In most states, Mary and Jane would not be permitted to be married, due to the fact that they are a same-sex couple. Nevertheless, under Massachusetts law, same-sex couples are legally entitled to be married. I believe that this is abhorrent, disgusting, and that the entire Commonwealth will be punished in a hail of unleavened bread and burning toads one day for this transgression against the laws of nature and of the one true god. Nevertheless, this factual scenario is governed by Massachusetts’ domestic relations laws as follows:
He probably would have gotten 1.134 points just for writing that much. Instead, he sat there at the table, contorted himself in a manner that allowed him to insert his own head into his own ass, and refused to answer the question. Then he files this frivolous lawsuit.
I have read a lot of criticism of his complaint as revealing a frightening lack of ability. In all fairness, you don’t learn how to practice law in law school, and I am not sure that I could have done as well before I had the good fortune to begin working in a firm with great mentors who taught me how to actually practice law. (Thank you Joe , Mike, and Larry).
Therefore, I think that I may be the only person who simultaneously disagrees with Mr. Dunne and also thinks that his complaint ain’t bad for an amateur. Don’t get me wrong, it does suck, and it does seem like it was written by someone who was wearing a tinfoil hat to keep “them” from reading his thoughts. It also has major legal deficiencies therein. Nevertheless, I’ve seen much worse filed by licensed and experienced attorneys. Therefore, I will not criticize his complaint’s technical deficiencies. (Actually, I’ve never seen anything this bad filed by an attorney licensed in Massachusetts, but I can immediately think of at least three Florida-licensed attorneys that I would rank below Mr. Dunne in terms of legal ability).
Nevertheless, I think that his complaint should be exhibit A in a character and fitness determination that he should not be allowed to practice law.
In this complaint, Dunne has either made knowingly made material misstatements of fact to a court, or he lacks the mental stability to know that his statements were materially false. Additionally, a big part of being a lawyer is taking responsibility for your own actions. (Well, that is part of being an adult too). If you want to take a stand, and not answer a question on the exam because you disagree with the underlying fact pattern – then I respect that. But, there are consequences for that kind of action, and Mr. Dunne should take them like a man — not try and point the finger at someone else.
For the good of the public and the profession, I hope that Mr. Dunne is not admitted to the Mass. Bar — nor any other Bar — until he can rehabilitate himself. I don’t care if he dislikes same-sex marriage, and he doesn’t need to like it. But, he has already — before even getting his law license — violated some of the basic fundamentals of legal ethics and professional judgment.
I’m not saying that he is beyond redemption, but I would not say that he is currently fit to practice law.
Bay Windows, Boston’s Big Gay Publication liked the headline to this post. Thanks for the props, BW!