Disgraced New Republic reporter fails to meet moral standards, court rules
The California Supreme Court denied disgraced journalist Stephen Glass’ request to practice law, arguing that his past history of erroneous reporting made him unfit to uphold the moral standards of the profession.
The former New Republic reporter, whose web of deceptions was dramatized in the 2003 film “Shattered Glass,” has been trying to get admitted to the State Bar of California after being rejected by the New York State Bar. Glass's attorneys maintain that he is a changed man, who did Pro bono legal work and reached out to the victims of his shoddy reporting.
The court, however, questioned how genuine and far-reaching his attempts to make amends for his transgressions has been.
“Remorse does not establish rehabilitation,” the state court writes in its decision.
“We also observe that instead of directing his efforts at serving others in the community, much of Glass’ s energy since the end of his journalistic career seems to have been directed at advancing his own career and his financial and emotional well being,” it added.
The court noted that Glass did not offer a complete account of the more than 40 articles he fabricated at New Republic, George, Rolling Stone and elsewhere while applying for admission to the New York State Bar and made $175,000 on a fictionalized novel about his misdeeds entitled “The Fabulist.”
Glass's case was seen as a precursor to other infamous instances of plagiarism or shoddy reporting by the likes of Jonah Lehrer and Jayson Blair.
Yet, Glass continues to argue that he has learned from his mistakes. Two lower courts sided with Glass and found that his efforts to repair the damage from cooking up fake stories was sufficient and recommended he be accepted to the bar. However, the California Committee of Bar Examiners, which vets applicants, maintained that despite the fact that Glass apologized for past misconduct, his offense violates certain tenants of the legal profession like trustworthiness and candor, and could not be overlooked.
“The ruling today vindicates the idea that honesty is of paramount importance in the practice of law in California,” State Bar President Luis J. Rodriguez said in a statement.
Glass, who obtained a law degree from Georgetown, had law professors from his alma mater testify to his reformation, as well as former New Republic owner Martin Peretz. Charles Lane, the editor who helped untangle Glass's lies, argued that he should be denied admission.
An attorney for Glass did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.