CHARLESTON, WVA - While Shannon Kelly awaits the results of his West Virginia
bar examination, the Board of Law Examiners seeks to dismiss a federal lawsuit
claiming they didn't accommodate his learning disability.
In an Aug. 8 answer to the suit, John Hedges of Morgantown argued that the
examiners didn't have to state their reasons for denying his accommodation
No formal appeals process exists for disability accommodations, Hedges wrote,
and rules of admission to the West Virginia Bar do not require a hearing.
Kelly sought twice as much time as others planning to take the test in July, and
he sued the law examiners in federal court at Charleston after they granted time
and a half.
U.S. District Judge David Faber denied double time prior to the exam.
Kelly failed the test last year, after the examiners trimmed his request from
double time to time and a half.
The examiners also sought to accommodate Kelly, last year and this year, by
printing questions in 18-point type and giving him a room to himself.
Those accommodations don't satisfy the Americans With Disabilities Act,
according to his attorneys, Edward McDevitt and Kristin Shaffer of Bowles Rice
"The board has made insubstantial efforts to elucidate the scope and
meaning of the ADA only at the urging of the petitioner and this court,"
McDevitt wrote. "Indeed, petitioner is essentially paying for the education
of the board as to the implications of the ADA."
According to McDevitt, Kelly has "severe deficits in processing speed,
cognitive fluency and rapid naming."
"With each day that passes, petitioner loses professional opportunities
which he can never regain," he wrote. "His ability to practice law is
at stake, after he has invested enormous, time, money and energy to reach the
threshold of the profession at the age of 32."
He identified Kelly as a resident of Lester in Raleigh County, though
correspondence in the court file shows his address in Orlando, Fla.
Kelly graduated from Concord University in Athens, W.Va., and from Barry
University School of Law.