Letters: On Stephen Glass, a losing argument

Re "When lawyers go bad," Opinion, Feb. 11

Yale law student Jane Chong needs to go back to class if she thinks that disgraced former journalist Stephen Glass should be granted a law license in California because current unethical members of the bar did equally bad or worse things. That's a losing argument in any court, whether legal or that of public opinion.


Chong misses the salient reason for Glass' unacceptability. An attorney's ethics are challenged in nearly every case, whether in trying to set a criminal client free or in efforts to represent an alleged corporate wrongdoer.

The opportunities to conceal, misrepresent or mislead come with the job, and have to be rejected at each instance. The profession doesn't need another person who has already failed his ethics test.

A.J. Faigin

Laguna Niguel

The writer is a lawyer.

Chong fails to distinguish a fundamental concept recognized by The Times in an editorial in November supporting Glass' admission to the state bar: Journalists' ethics differ from legal ethics.

The two sets of ethics also seem to have been conflated by the California Supreme Court in denying Glass admission.

Nowhere in the Glass opinion does it say that the former journalist's application was permanently rejected, as Chong suggests. The critical issue in an admission case is the quality or degree of rehabilitation at the time the applicant is seeking admission.

Apparently, the Supreme Court deemed that Glass lacked adequate rehabilitation, but that does not mean it is permanent. Actually, the decision points out what Glass needs to accomplish to gain admission to the state bar.

Diane Karpman

Los Angeles

The writer, an expert on legal ethics, defends lawyers accused of misconduct.

We often read of convictions being overturned on appeal because the defense was incompetent. When a lawyer has been officially judged incompetent by the legal system, it is absurd for him or her not to be disbarred.

Rory Johnston