January 28, 2014

Bar Admission Absurdity In California

Some years back, Stephen Glass was a writer for The New Republic. His career flamed out spectacularly when he was caught fabricating details for his stories. But now he has been denied admission to the State Bar in California because his offenses against journalism make him ethically unfit to practice law.

The former New Republic writer who fabricated many articles in the 1990s “has not sustained his heavy burden of demonstrating rehabilitation and fitness for the practice of law,” says the California Supreme Court:

Stephen Randall Glass made himself infamous as a dishonest journalist by fabricating material for more than 40 articles for The New Republic magazine and other publications. He also carefully fabricated supporting materials to delude The New Republic‟s fact checkers. The articles appeared between June 1996 and May 1998, and included falsehoods that reflected negatively on individuals, political groups, and ethnic minorities. During the same period, starting in September 1997, he was also an evening law student at Georgetown University’s law school. Glass made every effort to avoid detection once suspicions were aroused, lobbied strenuously to keep his job at The New Republic, and, in the aftermath of his exposure, did not fully cooperate with the publications to identify his fabrications.

Glass applied to become a member of the New York bar in 2002, but withdrew his application after he was informally notified in 2004 that his moral character application would be rejected. In the New York bar application materials, he exaggerated his cooperation with the journals that had published his work and failed to supply a complete list of the fabricated articles that had injured others.

Glass passed the California bar examination in 2006 and filed an application for determination of moral character in 2007. It was not until the California State Bar moral character proceedings that Glass reviewed all of his articles, as well as the editorials The New Republic and other journals published to identify his fabrications, and ultimately identified fabrications that he previously had denied or failed to disclose. In the California proceedings, Glass was not forthright in acknowledging the defects in his New York bar application.

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.

Now I'm not necessarily disputing the finding of the California Supreme Court or the bar association in that state insofar as they question Glass's ethics and fitness to practice law -- at least not per se. What I am questioning is the ruling's consistency with

Citing a new state law allowing persons living in the country illegally to get their law licenses, the California Supreme Court on Thursday paved the way for a Chico man to fulfill his dream of becoming an attorney despite his not being a U.S. citizen.

In a unanimous ruling, the state Supreme Court determined there is no reason to block Sergio Garcia's bid for a California law license, now that a new law permits the state's high court to give such licenses to immigrants who are not yet citizens. State legislators, backed by Gov. Jerry Brown, pushed the legislation last fall as Garcia's case was unfolding in the Supreme Court, which has a final say on licensing California attorneys.

Now let me get this straight -- Stephen Glass, an American citizen who violated no law when he faked stories for publication is unfit to have a law license, but illegal alien Sergio Garcia can have one despite the fact that every breath he takes in this country is an offense against the laws of the United States. That is nonsensical on its face -- and one more example of how law-abiding American citizens are held to a higher standard than those who violate our nation's immigration laws. And that ought to outrage every American.

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