Mark Tetzlaff, a man who recently tried getting his student loans discharged because of undue hardships, is suing the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar after they denied him an open-book test and extra time.
Tetzlaff claims that the Illinois Board’s refusal to grant him an open-book exam with 100 percent extra time is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act; the test he was taking was the Illinois State Bar Exam.
The plaintiff is in the midst of attaining his Masters of Law (LLM) Degree at Temple University. He receives Social Security income due to short-term memory loss. In a federal complaint filed on July 24, Tetzlaff requests to be administered the July 2017 Illinois State Bar Exam in a semi-private room over the course of four days while having access to a study guide to assist in answering questions.
Illinois’ Bar commission agreed to allow Tetzlaff four days to take the state law exam as opposed to the standard two day test taking process. He was also granted a semi-private room, but the Illinois agency denied his request to consult a study guide during the exam as well as the request for 100 percent extra time.
According to his complaint, Tetzlaff will not be sitting in for the July 2017 state Bar test, but he does intend to take the test in February 2018. For that exam, Tetzlaff will seek the same accommodations he requested this year.
Tetzlaff is no stranger to requesting special accommodations for the Illinois State Bar Exam. Due to anxiety, Tetzlaff was able to take the 2016 Illinois State Bar with 50 percent extra time and in a semi-private room. He failed that test. He also failed the same exam in February 2012. Furthermore, Tetzlaff failed the Wisconsin State Bar Exam twice in 2015 and once again in 2016.
If Tetzlaff is finally able to pass the Illinois State Bar, the law firm Seifert & Associates will hire him as a full-time associate making $105,000 per year. Right now, the plaintiff does part-time research for the aforementioned law firm. In addition to his JD, Tetzlaff earned an MBA from Marquette University and a MA from Trinity Division School. Temple University granted him a scholarship for their LLM program.
Regarding his student loan discharge case, Tetzlaff represented himself in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in Chicago. Tetzlaff was seeking a discharge of his student loans through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. Tetzlaff owed $260,000 in student loans, but he did not believe he could repay those loans because of “undue hardships.”
In his appeal, Tetzlaff was seeking a clarification on what represented “undue hardships” which could have opened a whole slew of cases regarding student loan borrowers trying to discharge their loans through bankruptcy. His “undue hardships” included depression, recovering from alcoholism, and being convicted multiple times for misdemeanor crimes.
Tetzlaff sought to bring his student loan discharge plea to the U.S. Supreme Court and also have the country’s highest court define what “undue hardships” entailed. However, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case and it was dismissed.
Author: Mike Brown
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