Pass The Bar Exam? Boy, Did I!

In the summer of 2016, we featured stories from local attorneys about their experiences early in their career. Here’s the collection:

Bill Auman:

It was the summer of 1985, when we were young and our hearts were an open book (according to Paul McCartney).  The temperature outside was sweltering in Raleigh, where I was fortunate to be serving as a clerk in the Office of the Appellate Defender at the time.  My responsibilities were simple:  death penalty research and writing.  On this particular day, there was a knock on my door.  I opened it and did a double-take, were my eyes deceiving me or was this really Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead?

Turns out it was David (“Clovis”) Belser, visiting from Asheville, wearing a V-neck sweater over a long-sleeved shirt in the heat of eastern North Carolina, and requesting help on an upcoming capital trial in Buncombe County.  Clovis, who according to rumor was the draft-dodging son of a snake-handling minister from Madison County, put me to work.  I guess I must have helped him somewhat.

The following March, it was learned that the legislature would be authorizing a new position for an additional public defender in Asheville.  Clovis called me one night at approximately 9:00 p.m., and informed me that if I wanted the job,  I needed to be in the office of the Chief, that being Bob Hufstader, the next morning before he arrived at work.  I drove through the night, took a quick nap at a cheap motel in Morganton around 4 a.m., and made it just in time.  After an interesting interview, Bob informed me that I could have the job assuming I passed the upcoming bar exam.  He then, being the dapper gentleman that he was, returned home to change into the proper pants that matched his suit jacket before returning to court.  I think he was the only one who realized that the pants he had on were not a perfect match to his coat.

To shorten the story, after losing my exam ticket (which we were all warned not to do), I recovered and passed the July bar.  Upon arriving in Asheville to begin work and save the world, my mindset at the time, I was greeted by not only Clovis but also the legendary Al Williams, among others.  The stories from the times when Al and I were public defender conference roommates are probably better left for speculation.  Needless to say, aside from missing eastern-style bar-b-que, Asheville was my Emerald City in 1986 and remains so to this day.  Thanks Bob, who is missed by many, and cheers to my buddy Clovis!

From Victor Garlock:
When I took the NC bar, they had a rule that you could not take any notes or other study material past a certain point in the testing area.  The prohibited area included the bathrooms.  We all scribbled our way furiously through the day 1 morning session, then broke for lunch.  I was back in my appointed place well before the scheduled start time of the afternoon session.  That start time came, and went.  5 minutes passed, then 10, then 15.  The murmuring in the auditorium was fast becoming feverish, if not hysterical.

Finally, someone from the Bar announced that they had found study notes in one of the bathrooms.  This was very serious.  They were going to call the SBI to see if they could get fingerprints from the notes to ascertain the culprit. They were also considering cancelling the exam, which would mean our morning work would be voided and we would have to sign up for and sit the next bar exam.But hopefully, whoever was responsible would take this opportunity to confess and spare everyone such heartache.  This announcement was greeted with moans, gasps and perhaps a few sobs.  I think I also heard teeth grinding.  But nothing that could be considered coherent speech.  Another 10 minutes passed during which no one moved and no one confessed.

Then the proctors broke out the afternoon tests without further explanation.  I never heard another word about it.  So, it is possible for lawyers to keep their mouths shut under the right circumstances! For the record, the notes were not mine.
Adam Peoples:
In the period between graduation and the bar exam, contrary to the advice of practically everyone I knew, I decided to take a 10-day vacation to Europe.  I justified the trip by planning a strict, all -day study regimen that accounted for the lost time, but just barely.  As it turned out, I did not have as much time to study as I had originally planned.
One week before I was scheduled to sit for the Georgia and Tennessee bar exams, back-to-back, I attended a mock bar exam in Atlanta, Georgia.  Midway into my second essay, I began having severe chest pains and had to leave the examination room.  A proctor followed me into the lobby and assured me that it was only an anxiety attack, and the paramedics, who later arrived, reported nothing abnormal.  Nonetheless, the pain was so intense that I could not finish the test.  Later that evening, when my symptoms had not subsided, I drove myself to the ER at Piedmont Hospital.  There, I was diagnosed with a life-threatening spontaneous tension pneumothorax (collapsed lung), and underwent an emergency procedure to remove the excess air in my chest.  I spent 5 of the 7 days leading up to the bar exam in the hospital, where I struggled, unsuccessfully due to my medication-induced drowsiness, to finish my pre-Europe study plan.  A picture of me in a hospital bed with my laptop is below.  
hospitalFortunately, my lung healed just in time to escape my doctors’ contingency plan: to implant a valve in my chest so I could manually relieve the pressure during my exams.  I took the Georgia bar exam on Tuesday and Wednesday and, because I was not yet cleared to drive, my then-girlfriend, now-wife, Lucie Peoples, drove me to Knoxville to sit for the Tennessee exam on Thursday.  I am happy to report that I passed both!
John Olesiuk:

I recently was dunned by a law school classmate who called to remind me that I had not yet contributed to the WFU Law Fund this year. The fella commented that the two things he remembered most about me were that I used to bring my baseball cards to torts class (Professor Logan was a b-ball fan), and that during the middle of the bar exam he heard a noise, looked up from his blue book, and saw me doing a bunch of pushups beside my desk. As I recall that unfun two-day experience, there were not any baseball questions on the exam and my head was about to explode. I had to do something to anchor myself. Time constraints prevented me from learning any Buddhist Zen master exercises on the spot, and pushups seemed as good a way as any to get my brain cells working. Prior to that phone call, I had blocked out the bar exam from my memory. The experience was pretty traumatic. But looking back, I am confident that those pushups helped me get through the ordeal.

Allan Tarleton:
I got sworn in in 1980 along with Marla Tugwell Adams, Ron The Litigator Moore, Not at the Time Justice Paul Newby, Sara Davis, and from the picture it looks like Stan Clontz and Bill McDowell. There were a few others, too, Ken Davies who ran off to Charlotte, among them.  Actually I think Bob Swain got Ken sworn in earlier so he could cover some court appearance before the command appearance before The Honorable Robert D. Lewis.  Herbert Hyde, who, thank goodness, let me come and work with him out of law school, introduced me and moved for my admission.
The most memorable part of the whole day was shaking the hand of Jim Baley in the Fifth Floor Courtroom.  That’s Jim Baley the Elder; current Jim Baley’s dad and James Baley’s grandfather.  Very distinguished with an FM radio announcer’s baritone voice and one of the smoothest, callous free hands I can remember shaking.  I remember that because Judge Baley, who was at the end of his career, held on to my hand for so long like older men sometimes do.  He held it not too firmly while he turned to Herbert and said, speaking about me, “Herbert, I envy him.”