Student without credit card still can take bar exam, court orders

Thanks to the California Supreme Court, Sara Granda will take the six-day bar exam starting today in Sacramento.

Granda, 29, is paralyzed from the neck down and can breathe only with a respirator, the results of a horrific car crash when she was 17. Since the accident, she has earned three college degrees, including one in May from the UC Davis School of Law.

Confusion over her registration fee led to the State Bar of California's determination that she was ineligible for the exam because it had no application when the June 15 deadline passed. The next exam is in February.

But in a 6-0 ruling Monday, the high court granted Granda's petition for what is called a "writ of mandate," directing the State Bar to let her take the exam.

The unanimous nine-line order (Chief Justice Ronald M. George was not available) said she should be allowed to take the exam on the condition that she file a complete application by Sept. 1.

The bar's Committee of Bar Examiners must then decide whether the application brings her into compliance "with all other requirements for admission to the State Bar," the six associate justices ruled.

In an April letter to Granda, the bar referred her to its admissions Web page, where she found and filled out an application to take the exam. But, because she did not include credit card information, the bar's online vendor did not process the application.

Granda is indigent and does not have a credit card. Moreover, she believed it was unnecessary to submit credit card data because the state Department of Rehabilitation had paid the $648 fee in March. She said she checked more than once with a bar representative after the payment was made and was assured everything was in order.

But on July 14 — a month after the registration deadline — a bar representative informed Granda she was not registered and could not take the exam with her classmates.

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