Court bars Glass, Grant from practicing law
rulings last month, the California Supreme Court cited a need to maintain
public confidence and respect for the legal profession when it excluded two
people from the practice of law for their moral lapses.
In one case
the court denied admission to a former journalist with a track record of fabricating
stories, and in the other case the court disbarred a convicted sex offender.
On Jan. 23,
the court found that a felony conviction for possession of child pornography
warrants summary disbarment. In re Gary D. Grant on Discipline, S197503.
The court held
that because such a conviction alone constitutes moral turpitude, the State Bar
Court doesn’t need to first hold a hearing to determine whether the individual
circumstances of the conviction involved moral turpitude.
decision recognizes that belonging to the legal profession is a privilege and
not a right,” State Bar CEO Joseph Dunn said. “The bar’s ability to hold
attorneys to the highest standards is critical in maintaining the integrity of
unanimous ruling, the court acknowledged that the definition of moral turpitude
is elusive, but Justice Carol A. Corrigan wrote, “In attorney discipline cases,
moral turpitude should be defined with the aim of protecting the public,
promoting confidence in the legal system and maintaining high professional
relied on a 2001 case in which a lawyer was disbarred after being convicted of
attempting to commit a lewd act on a child age 14 or 15, In re Lesansky (2001) 25 Cal.4th 11.
also pointed out that the California Legislature has taken a harsh stance on
possession of child porn, amending the law to cover images of children ages 14
to 17 and requiring lifetime registration as a sex offender.
enactment constitutes an articulation by the Legislation that this behavior is
so repugnant to accepted societal standards as to constitute morally
turpitudinous behavior per se,” Corrigan wrote.
On Jan. 27,
the court refused to admit disgraced journalist Stephen Glass due to the widespread
deception he committed as a magazine journalist in the 1990s. The court
rejected Glass’ argument that he had rehabilitated himself since being caught
fabricating material in 42 articles in The New Republic and other publications and
making up more lies to cover his tracks. In re Stephen Randall Glass on
found that Glass did not come clean about all of the lies until he applied to
become a lawyer in California nearly 10 years later.
his efforts … seem to have been directed primarily at advancing his own
well-being rather than returning something to the community," the court said
in its unanimous unsigned ruling.
the Committee of Bar Examiners initially denied his admission on moral character grounds, the State Bar Court found that
Glass had rehabilitated himself and in 2010 recommended he be given a law
Committee of Bar Examiners appealed to the California Supreme Court, which declined
ruling today vindicates the idea that honesty is of paramount importance in the
practice of law in California,” State Bar President Luis J. Rodriguez said.
The court acknowledged
that many people supported Glass’ bid to become a lawyer, emphasizing his
talent and commitment to the legal profession and arguing for his redemption.
at stake is not compassion for Glass.… 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,” the court wrote. “On this
record, the applicant failed to carry his heavy burden of establishing his
rehabilitation and current fitness.”
Bar rules, applicants who are denied admission may reapply again after two
case was argued by Assistant General Counsel Mark Torres-Gil. The Glass case was
argued by Assistant General Counsel Rachel Grunberg.