From The New York Times
By JULIE BOSMAN
JAN. 27, 2014
In 1998, Stephen Glass was all but banished from the profession of journalism. On Monday, the California Supreme Court ruled that he was not welcome as a lawyer, either.
More than 15 years after the revelation that Mr. Glass, then an ambitious 25-year-old writer, had partly or wholly fabricated dozens of articles for The New Republic and other magazines, the high court denied his request to practice law in the state.
“The applicant failed to carry his heavy burden of establishing his rehabilitation and current fitness,” the court said in a unanimous decision.
The 33-page ruling was stinging in its portrayal of Mr. Glass’s character, raising questions about his motives and sincerity despite the appearance of character witnesses who testified in his favor. The court said Mr. Glass had not been forthright in a previous application to the New York bar and had not acknowledged his shortcomings in that effort (he was informally notified in advance that his New York application would be rejected).
Many of his efforts at rehabilitating himself, the court wrote, “seem to have been directed primarily at advancing his own well-being rather than returning something to the community.”
The decision Monday supported the position of the state’s bar, which had opposed Mr. Glass’s petition.
Mr. Glass’s case has been intensely debated in journalistic and legal circles, raising questions about character, forgiveness and whether it is possible to atone for ethical transgressions.
“What makes the Glass case so intriguing to lawyers and law students is frankly the journalism backdrop,” Stephen Gillers, a law professor of legal ethics at New York University, said in an interview. “The question is, Are we prepared to say as lawyers that a man who is no longer considered moral enough to be a journalist is moral enough to be a lawyer? If people flame out in journalism because of dishonesty, is the law open to them? I think the answer is no.”
Mr. Glass became well known in his mid-20s for his larger-than-life features in The New Republic, George and Rolling Stone. That ended when an editor at the website Forbes Digital Tool discovered that one of Mr. Glass’s articles, about computer hackers, appeared to be invented.
The New Republic promptly fired him and cut all ties, examining his archive of work for more fabrications. They found articles that were completely made up; others were partly fabricated.
Mr. Glass later wrote a novel, “The Fabulist,” for which he was paid an advance of $175,000. A 2003 film, “Shattered Glass,” was made about his fabrications.
The court’s ruling noted that roughly from 2001 to 2004, Mr. Glass sent approximately 100 handwritten letters of apology to “journalists affected by his fabrications, as well as to the persons who were injured by his articles.”
In 2004, Mr. Glass moved to California, where he was hired by a law firm as a clerk. He passed the bar exam in California in 2006 but was found morally unfit to practice law in 2009. He won an appeal after a trial but the California Supreme Court was asked to reconsider the case.
A phone message left at Mr. Glass’s office, where he is a paralegal, was not returned. Arthur L. Margolis, a lawyer for Mr. Glass, declined to comment.
Asked if Mr. Glass would continue to work as a paralegal, Mr. Margolis said, “I don’t see why not.”