The bar exam is in just five days. I’m reviewing dozens, sometimes hundreds, of multiple-choice questions every day. Now, for those of you who have no idea what a bar exam multiple-choice question looks like, I figured I might share one with you.
This particular question comes from MicroMash, which is kind of like Princeton Review for the bar exam, only without the classes. Law students, lawyers, and prospective law students are encouraged to leave their answers to the question in the ‘comments’ section below:
If the plaintiff was unable to show bad faith or other extraordinary circumstances, in which of the following situations would a federal district court assume jurisdiction?
A. Plaintiff M has been indicted in a state court for showing an obscene motion picture, “Sore Throat.” He brings an order to the federal district court seeking to enjoin the state prosecution.
B. Plaintiff N is the operator of a motion picture theater. The attorney general of the state has commenced a civil action to enjoin the showing of a motion picture, “The Bevel in Miss Jones,” on the ground that it is obscene. He applies to the federal district court seeking to enjoin the state civil proceeding.
C. Plaintiff O is the operator of a motion picture theater. The local law enforcement officer has informed him that if he shows “De Flowering Inferno” again, he will be prosecuted for obscenity. He brings an action in the federal district court for a declaratory judgment that the picture is not obscene.
D. Plaintiff P has been convinced in the trial court of State X for showing “Sin For Your Supper.” While the case is on appeal to the supreme court of that state, he brings an action in the federal district court seeking to enjoin the state proceeding.
Before I get to the point I want to get to, you have to know two things:
1) There’s this thing called the “Rule Against Perpetuities,” which (aside from being impossibly complex in application) is, judging by how many questions on the bar exam deal with it, the pillar upon which the entire American judicial system rests.
2) If, on the bar exam, a high enough percentage of test-takers get a multiple-choice question wrong, the bar will throw the question out.
NOW, I’m not taking the BarBri bar review course, so I’m getting this story second hand, but HERE GOES:
BarBri says that if a long Rule Against Perpetuities question comes up on the multiple-choice, you should just pick ANSWER (A) and move on. The idea is, if enough people get it wrong, they’ll toss it out.
Not sure how this will work out. Seems like there’s a Prisoner’s Dilemma situation going on here: if you suspect that a question is going to be thrown out (because it’s long and tough and you think others will all pick (A)), and if you think there’s a slightly-greater than 25% chance that one of the non-(A) answer choices is right, then you have the luxury of picking that particular non-(A) answer, banking on the other test-takers not following suit. BUT if other test-takers realize this and they too go for the non-(A) answers, banking on other test-takers guessing (A), then the whole system won’t work.