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Law School Case Brief

In re Glass - 58 Cal. 4th 500, 167 Cal. Rptr. 3d 87, 316 P.3d 1199 (2014)


To be qualified to practice law in the State of California, a person must be of good moral character. Bus. & Prof. Code, §§ 6060, subd. (b)6062, subd. (a)(2). Good moral character includes qualities of honesty, fairness, candor, trustworthiness, observance of fiduciary responsibility, respect for and obedience to the law, and respect for the rights of others and the judicial process. Rules of State Bar, tit. 4, Admissions and Educational Stds., rule 4.40(B). Persons of good character do not commit acts or crimes involving moral turpitude—a concept that embraces a wide range of deceitful and depraved behavior. A lawyer's good moral character is essential for the protection of clients and for the proper functioning of the judicial system itself. 


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. 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. 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 and identified fabrications that he previously 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. The State Court Bar Review Department found that Glass met the heavy burden of proof and established his rehabilitation, and Glass was recommended for admission to the bar.


Shoud Glass be admitted to the bar?




The Supreme Court of California rejected the recommendation of the State Bar Court and declined to admit Glass to the practice of law. The court concluded that Glass has not sustained his heavy burden of demonstrating rehabilitation and fitness for the practice of law. In light of his many acts of dishonesty and professional misconduct, he could not demonstrate good moral character as described in Rules of State Bar, tit. 4, Admissions and Educational Stds., rule 4.40(B), without showing truly exemplary conduct over an extended period. His failure to cooperate fully in identifying his past falsehoods indicated a continuing lack of integrity and forthrightness. His participation in pro bono work, while commendable, was not truly exemplary because such participation was to be expected, as set forth in Bus. & Prof. Code, § 6073.


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