Disabled Law Grad Fights to Take Bar Exam

Registration fee 'snafu' could prevent paralyzed law grad from taking bar exam.

July 27, 2009— -- Before she even gets the chance to become a lawyer, Sarah Granda, a disabled law school graduate, will get her day in court today.

Paralyzed from the neck down, Granda, 29, hopes the California Supreme Court will force the California State Bar to allow her to take the bar exam on Tuesday.

Granda said a "ridiculous snafu" is keeping her from taking the test because the state agency that covers her expenses paid her registration fee using a check instead of a credit card, the only payment method the bar accepts.

"To have it kind of fall through is more than just upsetting," Granda, who has spent countless hours preparing for the bar exam, told ABC News affiliate KXTV. "It just seems to be such an incredible oversight."

Today's hearing comes just days after a federal court on Friday said it did not have the jurisdiction to force the state bar to let her take the test, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger weighed in on the case, throwing his support behind the UC Davis law school graduate.

In a statement issued Saturday, Schwarzenegger urged the state bar to overturn its decision and allow Granda to sit for the test.

"It is outrageous that someone who has overcome so much in life is penalized by a bureaucratic error," he said.

The federal court Friday said it was "incredibly sympathetic to plaintiff's position," and recommended Granda file an emergency application with the state supreme court.

Granda, who was paralyzed in a car accident a decade ago, said her registration was rejected because the state paid the $600 fee by check instead of paying by credit card.

The state is covering Granda's fee because she is disabled. She receives $870 a month in state disability payments, and does not own a credit card.

"We are sympathetic to her case," said Diane Curtis, spokeswoman for the California bar, "but our hands are tied by statute."

According to Curtis, the bar never received a complete application from Granda.

But according to Granda's lawyer that is an excuse the bar is making based on a technicality.

"They had been in touch with her for weeks making arrangements. They told her the only place to register was online, but never told her that the only way to pay was by credit card," Granda's lawyer Stewart Katz told ABCNews.com.

"As far as the state knew, they paid the registration fee in March and everything was OK. We certainly haven't heard the bar say they refunded the money."

Katz said if allowed to sit for the test on Tuesday, his client is prepared.

"This has been a major disruption in her preparation," said Granda. "It has been an emotional drain and terribly distracting. But if given the chance, she is ready to take the test.

According to Garda's MySpace page, she was paralyzed soon after graduating from high school and spent six years in three different hospitals.

The state next offers the test in February, 2010.

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