True story -- Stephen Glass, whose fabrications as a journalist were so extensive and notorious that they were the basis of the movie Shattered Glass, is news again. A graduate of Georgetown Law School, Glass was denied admission by the California State Bar, and appealed to the California Supreme Court, which upheld the denial today. In a unanimous opinion the court called "reprehensible" the fact that Glass's misconduct took place while he was pursuing a law degree and license to practice law, when the importance of honesty should have gained new meaning and significance for him. And they refused to credit Glass's pro bono work as a supervised law clerk:
Glass points to the pro bono legal work he does for clients of his firm as evidence of sustained efforts on behalf of the community, but we observe that pro bono work is not truly exemplary for attorneys, but rather is expected of them.
Non-lawyer Slate editor Plotz, struck by the opinion's "anxious snobbishness," calls it cruel and misguided:
For 10 years, Stephen Glass has been performing virtually all the work of a lawyer for a law firm in California. He is noted for his attention to detail, his care for clients, and his honesty. Exactly how much longer would he need to work in this dedicated way for the justices to forgive? One more year? Five? Ten? How’s never? In the Bible, Jacob served 14 years: Would that be enough?
A comment to Andrew Sullivan's Dish post on the rejection defends the decision:
I’m a lawyer, and I take my obligations – imposed by a rigorous code of ethics put in place by the state – very seriously. That code of ethics is designed to protect clients, who trust in their lawyer, and David Plotz’s “buyer beware” view is antithetical to that. (I also am required to make payments into a fund used to reimburse clients who are cheated by their attorneys, and I don’t think we need to add a known sociopathic liar into that pool.) While I agree that Mr. Glass deserves a second chance at a career, I don’t think that a career in a highly regulated profession that is governed by a strict code of ethics is the right place for a known liar who has already blown through one professional code. The right second chance for a money launderer isn’t working at a bank; the right second chance for a rapist isn’t as a guard in a women’s prison; and the right second chance for liar isn’t in a position of trust.