Yet despite this, the legal system does care a good deal about lawyer ethics, as it defines them. And a propensity to outright fabrication is something state bars and state supreme courts are extremely worried about, even if it happens outside the context of legal practice. (The opinion pointed to the fact that, though Glass was in a different profession at the time, that profession also has firm standards related to honesty, and Glass egregiously violated those standards; it also noted that some of Glass’s fabrications occurred while he was going to law school.)
As the opinion relates, many character witnesses for Glass reported that they think he has changed, and the State Bar Court agreed. The California Supreme Court, however, wasn’t persuaded, partly because it concluded that:
Glass’s lack of integrity and forthrightness continued beyond the time he was engaged in journalism. Once he was exposed, Glass’s response was to protect himself, not to freely and fully admit and catalogue all of his fabrications. He never fully cooperated with his employers to clarify the record, failed to carefully review the editorials they published to describe the fabrications to their readership, made misrepresentations to The New Republic regarding some of his work during the period he purported to be cooperating with that magazine, and indeed some of his fabrications did not come to light until the California State Bar proceedings. He refused to speak to his editor at George magazine when the latter called to ask for help in identifying fabrications in the articles Glass wrote for that magazine.The record also discloses instances of dishonesty and disingenuousness occurring after Glass’s exposure, up to and including the State Bar evidentiary hearing in 2010. In the New York bar proceedings that ended in 2004, as even the State Bar Court majority acknowledged, he made misrepresentations concerning his cooperation with The New Republic and other publications and efforts to aid them identify all of his fabrications. He also submitted an incomplete list of articles that injured others….Our review of the record indicates hypocrisy and evasiveness in Glass’s testimony at the California State Bar hearing, as well.
And the court closed with this:
Glass and the witnesses who supported his application stress his talent in the law and his commitment to the profession, and they argue that he has already paid a high enough price for his misdeeds to warrant admission to the bar. They emphasize his personal redemption, but we must recall that what is at stake is not compassion for Glass, who wishes to advance from being a supervised law clerk to enjoying a license to engage in the practice of law on an independent basis. Given our duty to protect the public and maintain the integrity and high standards of the profession, our focus is on the applicant’s moral fitness to practice law. On this record, the applicant failed to carry his heavy burden of establishing his rehabilitation and current fitness.
Disclosure, to the extent it is necessary: I’m socially acquainted with Charles Lane, who was one of Glass’s New Republic editors (and who now writes for The Washington Post), with Julie Hilden, Glass’s long-time girlfriend, and with a former coworker of Glass’s. And I met Glass on one or two occasions.