3 Bar Exam Sample Questions to Study

It’s Tuesday, and you can never get enough practice! Here are three Bar Exam sample questions for you to try. Good luck!

Bar Exam Sample Question #1

At a local county jail, four trustees (inmates who work at the jail) were working hard all morning and took their normal 15-minute break.

The Correction Officer (C.O.) in charge of the inmates had a rough morning. The C.O. entered the break room and began to berate them for poor job performance and being lazy. His verbal reprimand included cursing, insults, and berating the trustees for being the worst kind of slackers. It lasted about 90 seconds, but felt much longer to the trustees.

As soon as he left, one of the trustees who was 71 years old – and who’d never been in jail before – became intensely ill. He was taken to the hospital, where he told the doctors he thought he was having a heart attack. The symptoms were very strong: tightening of the chest, pain throughout his body, severe shortness of breath. The man was clearly distraught, crying as he told the doctor about the incident.

The doctor ran a number of tests, and after they all came back negative he reached the conclusion that the trustee had suffered an anxiety attack, not a heart attack. He was advised to get some rest. However, the man remained very upset. He’d always done his best at his work as a trustee at the jail, and he was afraid of losing his status as a trustee and all the benefits that it included. He remained anxious, but didn’t need any follow-up treatment.

After being released a month later, he sued the C.O. and the Department of Corrections for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss, stating that there was no legal cause of action. Will the judge allow the lawsuit to go forward, or dismiss the case?

1. He will dismiss the case because there was no physical assault. A physical assault, or threat of physical harm must accompany harsh words in order to qualify for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress.

2. He will dismiss the case. Despite the cursing, insults, and berating of the employees/trustees, the tirade only lasted a minute and a half. This could not been considered so extreme and outrageous in a workplace environment (even a jail) that it would justify a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

3. He will allow the case to go forward. The cursing and unfounded insults were completely without basis in reality, and therefore so outrageous that it was foreseeable that any dedicated employee/trustee would be incredibly shaken and harmed by the experience.

4. He will allow the case to go forward. The C.O. had no cause for the tirade that emotionally damaged this 71-year-old man. He made untrue accusations and caused damage, which the C.O. reasonably should have known could happen after such a reprimand. He acted intentionally and there is a viable cause of action.

Bar Exam Sample Question #2

A doctor was called upon to testify at a trial in a personal injury case. His testimony focused on both treatment and the patient’s refusal to take prescribed medications on a regular basis. It became clear throughout his testimony and cross examination that the doctor was not there when the patient refused medications.

The nurses handled medication distribution, and reported the refusals in the patient’s chart. These charts were not introduced into evidence at trial. The defense objected and moved to strike this portion of the doctor’s testimony. What is the likely holding of this trial judge on this objection to the doctor’s testimony, regarding the refusal to take medication?

1. Sustained. The testimony was irrelevant and immaterial.

2. Overruled. The doctor was this patient’s doctor and as such, is allowed to rely on the notes provided by the nurses on the patient’s chart.

3. Overruled. The doctor has knowledge that the medical records kept on patient charts in his hospital are highly reliable. Therefore, as an expert, he is allowed to rely on these recorded notes to draw his conclusions and testify as such.

4. Sustained. This testimony was hearsay. The doctor was neither there to witness the patient’s refusals, nor was he the person notating these incidents. Therefore, the doctor had no personal knowledge of these events, and his testimony was based on unauthenticated medical records that were not entered into evidence.

Bar Exam Sample Question #3

Police and firefighters were at the scene of a house fire. As the fire was being handled by the firemen, the police were maintaining the area, making sure that bystanders were far enough away from the blaze to remain safe.

A car drove up, and out of curiosity parked nearby to watch the efforts to fight the fire. However, this car was blasting very loud music and contributing to the overall chaos at the scene. A police officer approached the vehicle and asked the driver to please turn down the music, and the driver complied. During this interaction, the officer noticed a handgun on the passenger front seat of the car. Although in this state the law allowed carrying a gun, whether it was concealed or not, the officer ordered the driver to exit his vehicle and drew his gun.

The other policemen saw the first officer draw his gun, so they rushed to his aid, drawing their guns as they approached. They surrounded the vehicle and the driver, who was now standing outside the car with his hands behind his head. The driver was told to face the car, and they slapped handcuffs on him and sat him down on the curb. A thorough search of the vehicle ensued, during which cocaine and illegal amphetamines were found. He was arrested, and charged with drug possession. A motion to suppress based on a Fourth Amendment violation was filed by his lawyer. How will the court most likely rule?

1. The drugs will be suppressed. The officer overreacted to the stop, which was only based on loud music. He began an arrest in a situation where there was no probable cause to do so.

2. The drugs are admissible. The act of driving up to a house fire, which is already a chaotic situation, with loud music blasting was indicative of volatile behavior. When the officer saw the gun in the front passenger seat, that elevated the situation. The officer had a duty to protect everyone involved, so the arrest and search were reasonable.

3. The drugs will be suppressed. Just because the officer noticed a gun on the front seat does not indicate that any law had been broken in a state that allows people to carry guns, therefore he had no cause to arrest the driver or search the car.

4. The drugs are admissible. For the safety of everyone involved, this officer had the right to remove this driver from the vicinity of his gun – and everything else that transpired was properly motivated by the officer’s duty to protect everyone in the area.

Answers

Question 1: #2 is Correct

He will dismiss the case. Despite the cursing, insults, and berating of the employees/trustees, the tirade only lasted a minute and a half. This could not been considered so extreme and outrageous in a workplace environment (even a jail) that it would justify a cause of action for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

This 90-second tirade does not rise to the level necessary to qualify for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Furthermore, the defendant must have intended to inflict the emotional distress, and the resultant reaction/effect on the employee must be severe. There is no indication in the facts that the C.O. intended to inflict distress, only that he was simply having a bad day. This type of outburst is not uncommon in the workplace setting, and if everyone sued an employer every time they let off steam, the courts would be packed with lawsuits. Courts could not handle that volume of cases so they frown on such suits – unless the behavior was beyond all bounds of decency.

See:

  • Murphy v. American Home Products, 58 N.Y.2d 293, 303, citing Restatement [Second] of Torts § 46, comment d. Liability does not extend to mere insults, indignities, threats, annoyances, petty oppressions, or other trivialities.
  • Howell v. New York Post Co., 81 NY 2d 115, 122 (NY Ct of Appeals 1993). Liability is found only where the conduct has been so atrocious, outrageous and so extreme as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency, and must be “utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”
  • Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. v. Zeltwanger, 144 SW 3d 438, 445 (TX Sup.Ct. 2004). Behavior must be so severe and outrageous that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it

Question 2: #4 is Correct

Sustained. This testimony was hearsay. The doctor was neither there to witness the patient’s refusals, nor was he the person notating these incidents. Therefore, the doctor had no personal knowledge of these events, and his testimony was based on unauthenticated medical records that were not entered into evidence.

Rule 602 of the Federal Rules of Evidence prohibits witnesses from testifying to matters that they have no personal knowledge of. The proper procedure here would have been to call either the nurse who made the notes, or the nurse who supervised the other nurses as well as the patient charts. A business records exception foundation would have had to be laid by establishing that the nurse or supervisor was the “keeper of the records,” that the records were made in the ordinary course of business, etc. Then the records should have been offered and accepted into evidence. Only then could the doctor properly rely on these records to testify as he did. In fact, an even better way to go about it would have been to have the actual nurse who created the record testify both to their authenticity, and the fact that she witnessed the patient’s refusals.

Question 3: #1 is Correct

The drugs will be suppressed. The officer overreacted to the stop, which was only based on loud music. He began an arrest in a situation where there was no probable cause to do so.

This officer’s actions were unreasonable. The stop was appropriate, but after the driver turned down the music as instructed, the reason for the initial stop was over. However, seeing the gun on the front seat did give the officer the ability to remove the driver from the car. Separating him from his gun – however legal it may have been, it is still a lethal weapon – was justified for the safety of everyone at the scene.

However, all of the officers’ actions after that were excessive. There was no indication that this driver had broken any law, since guns were legal in the state. To have several officers approach you with guns drawn, when no crime has been ascertained, is not reasonably related to the scope of the initial stop. The arrest was neither reasonable nor expected by any citizen. The arrest was illegal, and the subsequent search of the car was illegal as well.

See:

  • MUS v. King, 990 F. 2d 1552 (10th Circ. 1993)
  • Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 88 S.Ct. 1868, 20 L.Ed.2d 889 (1967)
  • Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106, 98 S.Ct. 330, 54 L.Ed.2d 331 (1977) (per curiam)

How did you do on these sample questions? If you’re ready for even more practice, feel free to check out some of our other Bar Exam sample questions!

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