In re Stephen Glass Opinion No. S196374: Moral Integrity Prevents Ex-Journalist from Being Admitted to California Bar

The California Supreme Court has rejected a majority recommendation of the California State Bar Court that an applicant be admitted to the California State Bar, on the basis that he had not provided sufficient evidence of a significant change in his character.  The applicant was a former journalist, who fabricated several articles that he produced for various news sources from in the late 1990’s.  He often contrived evidence to support the articles, in order to deceive the fact checkers that reviewed his articles before publication.  He was eventually caught and fired.

While working as a journalist, he also attended evening classes at a law school.  After graduating, he took and passed the New York bar exam. He disclosed his past discretions in his application for admission to the bar, but withdrew it after he was informally told that it would have been rejected as a result of his conduct.

He then moved to California and began clerking for a local law firm.  While in California, he sought psychiatric treatment and assisted homeless clients with their personal and legal matters.

Several years later, he took the California bar exam, passed, and sought admission to the bar.  The California Committee of Bar Examiners denied his application stating that he did not satisfy the requirements of California’s moral fitness test.

The applicant then requested and was granted a hearing before the State Bar Court.  The panel of judges held that he had effectively rehabilitated his moral character and recommended that he be admitted as an attorney.

The California Supreme Court granted review of the Bar Court’s recommendation, but found that he had failed to meet his burden of proof based on the evidence proffered at the hearing.  He was thus denied admission as an attorney.

Decision:  In re Stephen Glass

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