Stephen Glass, Disgraced Ex-journalist, Denied to Practice Law
SAN FRANCISCO— The California Supreme Court denied a law license on Monday to a former journalist caught fabricating dozens of stories for major national magazines.
The unanimous seven-judge court ruled that Stephen Glass had insufficiently rehabilitated himself in the years since his misdeeds, saying he “failed to carry his heavy burden of establishing his rehabilitation and current fitness.”
Glass’ misdeeds stunned the profession when they were uncovered in 1998. His widely publicized fall from grace earned the rising star a prominent place in the pantheon of journalistic cheats and scoundrels such as Janet Cooke and Jayson Blair — two prominent reporters caught fabricating quotes, sources and entire stories.
Glass’ ethical missteps were turned into the Hollywood movie “Shattered Glass” and recounted in his novel “The Fabulist,” for which he earned $190,000.
Glass, 41, now works as a paralegal for a Los Angeles law firm and lives in a nearby suburb. Through his lawyer, Glass declined an interview request.
Jon Eisenberg, a lawyer for Glass, said his client “appreciates the court’s consideration of his application and respects the court’s decision.”
Glass argued he had undergone years of psychotherapy since he was exposed in 1998. He also pointed to several former teachers, judges he clerked for and others who testified on his behalf at a 2010 state bar court hearing as proof he was fit to practice law.
The California Supreme Court said that wasn’t enough.
“Many of his efforts from the time of his exposure in 1998 until the 2010 hearing, however, seem to have been directed primarily at advancing his own well-being rather than returning something to the community,” the court wrote in the unsigned ruling.
While working at The New Republic, Glass attended Georgetown University Law Center, graduating in 2000. After passing the New York state bar exam, Glass in 2002 applied to practice law in that state. He withdrew his New York application two years later after he was informally told that his application would be rejected.
The California Supreme Court cited Glass’ aborted efforts in New York as a major reason for rejecting his latest application to practice law.
“In the New York bar application materials, he exaggerated his cooperation with the journals that had published his work and failed to supply a complete list of the fabricated articles that had injured others,” the California Supreme Court wrote Monday.
Glass applied to practice law in California after passing the state’s bar exam in 2007. But divided state bar officials grappled with his application, finally appealing to the California Supreme Court to decide.