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POWER & PRIVILEGE: For CoMo Mayoral candidate Kelly, Mizzou Law School waived admissions, attendance requirements

Juris Doctor degree made easy

COLUMBIA, Mo 3/17/19 (Beat Byte) -- The University of Missouri School of Law excused Columbia Mayoral candidate Chris Kelly from admissions and attendance requirements when he was a Missouri State Representative and his wife, Federal Judge Nanette Laughrey, taught at the school. 

School officials waived the requirement Mr. Kelly -- a Mizzou law school alum and former Boone County Judge -- take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). He was the only student for whom the exception was made in 1985, Terry Ganey of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at the time.  

The law school also allowed Mr. Kelly to attend classes part time, "although the school's policy requires students to take a full load of classes," the Post-Dispatch story noted.

The waivers made headlines because Mr. Kelly, then 39, was vice chairman of the Missouri House Budget Committee and member of the House Budget Committee on Education

"In both positions, Kelly is in a position to influence appropriations for the University of Missouri,"  Ganey -- a veteran Missouri education journalist -- reported. Mr. Kelly "did not know if his position in the Legislature had influenced his entry into law school," he told Ganey. "I don't know how to measure that."

Mr. Kelly was so well qualified to attend, law school admissions committee chairman Edward Humvald said the committee made a rare exception.

"You have to take the LSAT to determine a student's aptitude to survive law school,"  he told Ganey. "We do waive it in certain exceptional situations, in the event someone is well-qualified to come to law school."

About the law school attendance requirement, "our program is set up for full-time students," Humvald told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Very few are here on a part-time basis."

The attendance requirement was waived for Kelly because "it would interfere with his work in the Legislature," Humvald said. "We try to accomodate any applicant who has a particular problem. We try to take care of them if we can take care of them." 

Mr. Kelly said he planned to take courses full time, but attended part time during his first two semesters "following a pattern established by other state legislators: Warren Hearnes, Richard Ichord, and Joe Holt."  He had not taken either of his wife's classes, domestic relations or civil procedure, Kelly added.

Ganey heard from "some students at the law school who complained privately that Mr. Kelly's position in the Legislature enabled him to get special treatment."

"They are entitled to that point of view," Mr. Kelly said. "I agree it is different than the average admission, but there were others who were admitted in situations similar to my own." 

Mr. Kelly served as a Boone County Associate Circuit Court Judge from 2000-06 and in the Missouri House of Representatives from 1982-90 and 2009-2015.


 (Photo credit KOMU TV interview)
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