Disgraced Journalists Might Not Be Great Lawyers

Oh, legal karma is a terrible thing: Fabricator of many a story in the late 1990s, Stephen Glass, was rejected for lawyer's license in California on Monday by the state's Supreme Court. While Glass argued that becoming a lawyer could serve as a clean-slate second chance for him, the court unanimously said it was precisely because of his tarnished record that he was unfit to meet the "moral standards" required of a lawyer, and will not be allowed to practice law in the Golden State. Guy can't catch a break, it seems.

"(Glass) has not sustained his heavy burden of demonstrating rehabilitation and fitness for the practice of law," the ruling said.

Glass, who currently works as a paralegal, became infamous after it was discovered he'd made up the facts of around 40 different magazine articles, including those published in reputable/famous publications such as Rolling Stone, George, and the New Republic. Naturally, he then lied to cover all those other lies up — a huge debacle that was turned into 2003's Shattered Glass, starring Hayden Christensen.

The ruling is, of course, contentious, even among journalists who don't really like Glass. David Plotz, editor of Slate, said of the ruling:

I’m instead struck by its anxious snobbishness. The Committee of Bar Examiners and the Supreme Court justices—every one a lawyer — don’t want to let Glass be a lawyer because they’re embarrassed that anyone could possibly think that he’s like them. He’s not one of us, dear.

Plotz wonders how long Glass must repent for his sins: He's worked as a paralegal — and a darn good one — for ten years. When will his sentence be up?

"But law isn’t holy orders," Plotz concludes. "It’s a job."

Even so, Glass's fabrication broke the moral code — the moral law — that is supposed to guide journalistic ethics. Would Plotz feel the same if Glass was gearing back to a career in journalism — or even teaching it to would-be reporters, writers, and editors?

Glass will have a chance to reapply in three years — whether that will be considered a sentence served or not, however, is hard to say.