Two months ago, we considered Stephen Glass and his application for membership in the California Bar. Reluctantly, I concluded that I would not have voted to admit him. Which made me feel bad because I wanted to describe a clear standard that he could conform himself to, and I found myself struggling to articulate what that might be.
Still, honesty is paramount to what we do as professionals and Glass’ past actions left me with an abiding sense of distrust in his future veracity — I would not have felt comfortable with him representing an adversary if the parties disagreed sharply on the authenticity of evidence, which happens often.
Well, it seems that the Supreme Court agrees with me:
At the 2010 State Bar Court hearing resulting in the decision under review, Glass presented many character witnesses and introduced evidence regarding his lengthy course of psychotherapy, along with his own testimony and other evidence. 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.His evidence did not establish that he engaged in truly exemplary conduct over an extended period. We conclude that on this record he has not sustained his heavy burden of demonstrating rehabilitation and fitness for the practice of law.
The Supremes wouldn’t say exactly what would meet that heavy burden, but apparently simply living an honest life, giving a few (paid) speeches, joining Gambler’s Anonymous, and earning good references isn’t it. There’s also a critical bit about the difference between remorse (which Glass demonstrated) and restitution (which Glass offered, many years later, in the form of offering to refund the salary he was paid by The New Republic, with a note that he kind of knew that offer would be turned down).
So they denied his application for membership in the Guild. Truth is, I do kind of feel bad for him and I hope he is able to find something good to do with his considerable talents, like writing fiction (as fiction) and selling it to Hollywood. I bet it’d be great. But I’m more relieved than sad. We lawyers have a poor enough reputation without adding someone with a past like his to our ranks.
Thanks to frequent contributor, brother Guildsman, and sometime guest author @NewDealer for the tip!
Burt Likko is the pseudonym of an attorney in Southern California. His interests include Constitutional law with a special interest in law relating to the concept of separation of church and state, cooking, good wine, and bad science fiction movies. Follow his sporadic Tweets at @burtlikko, and his Flipboard at Burt Likko.