Second Chances

Some 20 years ago Stephen Glass just made up people, quotes, events, whatever he needed to fabricate articles which ended up published in magazines like Rolling Stones and New Republic. He received raves, raised suspicions, was found out, fired, and later wrote a book about it. Now he’s a graduate of Georgetown University law school and a paralegal for a Los Angeles law firm. He tried to get a license to practice law in New York, and withdrew his application when he realized he would be rejected on moral grounds. He moved to L.A., passed the California bar and applied for a license there. He was turned down and won an appeal after a ten day hearing during which his employer, his professors and his psychiatrist all testified it should be awarded to him. That gave him the opportunity to handle some cases and do a lot of pro bono work for the firm employing him. Then the committee of bar examiners appealed his license on morals grounds. Since the appellate court ruled in Glass’s favor, they asked the California Supreme Court which has the final say about law licenses to look into the case. At the hearing the justices had harsh words for Glass, leaving observers to wonder how they could rule in his favor. People who make mistakes, particularly big ones, deserve the opportunity to redeem themselves, or at least have another chance. In the years since his mistakes, Glass has been trying to forge a new life and move forward as a productive member of society. Refusing him a license may be some people’s idea of justice, but may not be what’s best for the society as a whole—Can justice be just if it does not have compassion, and even forgiveness?