Friday, February 19, 2016

Annual Report on Discipline is Released

Do you ever wonder what happens when a lawyer or judge does something illegal or gets into serious trouble?  In most states, there is a disciplinary group that handles complaints against lawyers and judges. Ohio is no exception.

The Board of Professional Conduct, formerly called the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline, just released its 2015 annual report on Feb. 17, noting a nearly 20 percent decrease in active pending cases.  This board, made up of 28 volunteer commissioners appointed by the Supreme Court of Ohio, includes judges, lawyers, and members of the public. The board hears complaints against attorneys and judges for criminal behavior or for violations of the ethical codes of the Ohio Rules of Professional Responsibility and the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Disciplinary cases can arise in a number of situations ranging from a lawyer’s neglect of client matters to a felony conviction. When a complaint is made and has probable cause, a disputed case will be heard before a hearing panel of three commissioners, who then write an opinion to present to the full board. After consideration by all commissioners, the report is certified to the Supreme Court with both panel and board recommendations.

The justices will hear oral arguments about the case and then decide if the lawyer or judge will receive the recommended sanction, or a greater or lesser penalty, which might include a professional license suspension or a probationary period with conditions. License suspensions may last for six months, one or two years, or for an indefinite period.  A disbarment, which is the most serious penalty available, means that the attorney or judge will never practice law in Ohio again.

According to the 2015 annual report, there were 48 hearings and 61 certified reports and the board disposed of 102 cases, a 21.4 percent increase in dispositions from 2014.

More information can be found here.


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