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Disgraced Journalist Stephen Glass 'Morally Fit' To Practice Law?

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By Alexandra Ward   |   Thursday, 07 Nov 2013 08:51 AM

The California Supreme Court has 90 days to decide whether disgraced journalist Stephen Glass is "morally fit" to practice law, but from arguments presented in court Wednesday, it seems the justices are leaning toward no.

A representative from the state bar argued that Glass is "the perpetrator of one of the greatest frauds in American journalism" and "an infamous serial liar," while Glass' defense team tried to paint the picture of him as a rehabilitated person who has "changed himself," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Back in the '90s when he was a 20-something aspiring journalist, Glass infamously fabricated 42 stories for The New Republic, Rolling Stone, and other publications by creating fake people, quotes, business cards, voicemails, and websites.

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He was fired and became a sort of walking punch line — a major talking point in every journalism ethics class across the country.

Glass later earned a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and attempted to get a license to practice law in New York. He moved to California when it became clear that the New York bar was going to reject his application on "moral grounds," and tried again out west.

He managed to get his foot in the door as a paralegal at a firm in Beverly Hills but has been going back and forth with the California bar since it first rejected his admission in 2009.

After a series of appeals, the state bar then asked the state Supreme Court to rule on Glass' case and decide if the 41-year-old is morally fit to practice law.

During the proceedings Wednesday, Glass' lawyer Jon B. Eisenberg told the panel that his client has had an impeccable record for the last 11 years.

"The issue is today, and does he have integrity today," Eisenberg said.

But the justices weren’t convinced.

Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye mused that Glass was involved in a "a depth of deception that was pretty sophisticated" and failed for several years "to completely come clean about all the articles that harmed people."

Justice Marvin R. Baxter pointed out that Glass' fabrication of articles was not an isolated incident but a pattern "over a long period of time."

Justice Ming W. Chin derided Glass for profiting on his indiscretions by writing a novel about his experiences back in 2003.

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