California's Top Court to Decide if Scandal-Tarred Reporter Can Practice Law

 @DanRivoli on November 21 2011 11:23 AM

The lying lawyer is a butt of many jokes, but should a history of telling tall tales bar a former journalist-turned-aspiring-attorney from practicing law?

The California Supreme Court will decide if Stephen Glass, a former writer at The New Republic caught fabricating his articles, has rehabilitated himself enough to be admitted to the state bar.

During the late 1990s, Glass was a young rising star at The New Republic, a Washington-based politics and culture magazine. But in 1998, a Forbes reporter fact-checking a Glass piece about a teenage computer hacker discovered that the article was all phony.

An ensuing investigation found that Glass had fabricated quotes, anecdotes and people featured in many of his pieces. He had also covered up these lies with phony notes in order to dupe editors and fact-checkers at The New Republic. Glass' scandal was popularized in the movie, Shattered Glass.

Glass pursued a new career as a lawyer, graduating from Georgetown University Law Center. He passed the New York bar exam, but he was never certified because of the issues about his moral fitness.

He moved to California to try his luck there, but ran into the same problem after passing the bar. The State Bar of California's Committee of Bar Examiners declined to sign off on his moral fitness because of his history of lying, according to The Recorder, a state legal publication.

A bar association court that reviews attorney conduct, however, disagreed, deciding that Glass had changed for the better after hearing from character witnesses, according to The Recorder.

The state bar association petitioned the California Supreme Court to review the matter and decide whether there was sufficient evidence that Glass is now morally fit for the bar. The court said Friday that the justices granted the petition.

We feel Stephen Glass given his past misdeeds--and significant at that--just hasn't rehabilitated himself and overcome the hurdle he needs to to become a practicing member of the California bar, Rachel Grunberg, assistant general counsel to the State Bar of California, told the International Business Times Monday. He's just literally, in our mind, abandoned one career and is trying to segue into another.

Glass' counsel could not be immediately reached for comment Monday.

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