History of the Connecticut Judicial Seal

BannerBanner

Case Look-up Courts Directories Educational Resources E-Services Juror Information Online Media Resource Center Opinions Opportunities Self-Help Frequently Asked Questions Home Attorneys Espanol menu
  

 

Statewide Grievance Committee
Statewide Bar Counsel

Discipline Process Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What offices are involved in the attorney discipline process?
  2. How do I file a grievance complaint?
  3. Where do I file a complaint?
  4. What happens after the complaint is filed?
  5. Why might a complaint be screened?
  6. Can the Complainant (the person who filed the complaint) respond to the attorney’s answer?
  7. What happens if the grievance panel decides that there is no probable cause of misconduct?
  8. What happens if the grievance panel decides that there is probable cause of misconduct?
  9. When will a hearing be scheduled?
  10. What happens if the complaint is dismissed after a reviewing committee hearing?
  11. What discipline can be ordered?
  12. What happens if the attorney is presented?
  13. What if my complaint is about fees?
  14. Will filing a grievance complaint affect my civil or criminal case?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. What offices are involved in the attorney discipline process?
There are several offices involved in the disciplinary process, all of which is overseen by the Judges of the Superior Court.

Grievance Panels and Grievance Counsel
Grievance panels investigate grievance complaints to decide if there is probable cause that an attorney is guilty of misconduct. These decisions are based on the Rules of Professional Conduct. Sometimes grievance panels investigate matters and file complaints in their own name. Grievance Counsel help grievance panels with their investigations. Every Judicial District has a grievance panel made up of one nonattorney and two attorneys who do not have offices in the Judicial District. The grievance panel may hold a hearing on the complaint as part of its investigation, although this is rare. A copy of the grievance panel's decision is sent to the person who filed the complaint (known as the Complainant) within 140 days of the date the complaint was sent to the panel.

The Statewide Grievance Committee and its subcommittees (known as reviewing committees).
The Statewide Grievance Committee holds hearings and decides grievance complaints if the local grievance panel finds probable cause, issues written decisions, disciplines attorneys and orders them presented to the Superior Court when appropriate.

The Statewide Grievance Committee oversees the attorney registration process, the trust account overdraft process, the trust account audit process and the attorney advertising review process, among other things. The Statewide Grievance Committee is assisted in these matters by its legal counsel, the Statewide Bar Counsel’s Office.

The Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office
If probable cause of misconduct is found in a complaint, the Chief Disciplinary Counsel and assistant disciplinary counsel pursue grievance complaints before the Statewide Grievance Committee for a hearing. They also prosecute serious grievance cases in the Superior Court. Disciplinary counsel may also file grievance complaints.

Top

2. How do I file a grievance complaint?
Grievance complaints must be filed on form JD-GC-6, Complaint Against Attorney, which is available at http://www.jud.ct.gov/webforms/#GRIEVANCE. Detailed instructions for filing the complaint are on the form.

Top

3. Where do I file a complaint? 
An original and 6 copies of the grievance complaint and any attachments are filed with the Statewide Grievance Committee, 287 Main Street, Second Floor, Suite Two, East Hartford, CT 06118-1885. The Statewide Grievance Committee does not accept grievance complaints electronically. Complaints that are e-mailed to the Committee will not be processed.

Top

4. What happens after the complaint is filed? 
Once the file is accepted, the staff of the Statewide Bar Counsel’s office opens a file and assign the complaint a file number. The complaint is then reviewed by an attorney of the Statewide Bar Counsel’s office together with an attorney and non-attorney member of the Statewide Grievance Committee. This review is to decide if the complaint will be processed for investigation or dismissed without an investigation (“screened”). If it is processed for investigation, the complaint is sent to the grievance panel that covers the Judicial District where the attorney’s office is located. If it is screened, the Complainant may file a written appeal, which will be considered by the Statewide Grievance Committee. Complaints that do not comply with the Statewide Grievance Committee rules will be returned for correction.

Top

5. Why might a complaint be screened? 
The reasons why a complaint may be dismissed without investigation are in Section 2-32(a)(2) of the Connecticut Practice Book. Common reasons include a complaint that is more than 6 years old, that does not state a claim of misconduct; that does not allege sufficient facts to warrant an investigation; that alleges only a fee dispute or failure to pay a debt; or that only alleges the name of a law firm instead of an individual attorney.

Top

6. Can the Complainant (the person who filed the complaint) respond to the attorney’s answer? 
There is no rule that allows a response to an attorney's answer. The Complainant should contact the grievance counsel, who represents the investigating grievance panel, on this issue.

Top

7. What happens if the grievance panel decides that there is no probable cause of misconduct? 
Unless the grievance panel concludes that a crime was alleged in the complaint, the grievance panel must dismiss the complaint if it does not find probable cause. The decision is filed with the Statewide Grievance Committee. The grievance panel’s decision to dismiss is final and not subject to review.
 
If the grievance panel finds no probable cause, but concludes that the complaint alleged criminal conduct, then a reviewing subcommittee of the Statewide Grievance Committee will review the decision and either affirm the decision and dismiss the complaint, or reverse the decision and find probable cause. The Statewide Grievance Committee does not review a grievance panel’s decision that the complaint did not allege a crime.

Top

8. What happens if the grievance panel decides that there is probable cause of misconduct?
All decisions of a grievance panel finding that there exists probable cause of misconduct are referred to the Statewide Grievance Committee and to the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office for further action. The Committee has a hearing that is open to the public. These hearings are held by subcommittees of the Statewide Grievance Committee known as reviewing committees. The reviewing subcommittees are made up of 2 attorneys and 1 non-attorney. Disciplinary counsel presents the case to the reviewing committee at the hearing. The reviewing committee makes the final decision on the grievance or complaint. The final decision is in writing.

Top

9. When will a hearing be scheduled? 
A hearing is usually scheduled within 90 days after a grievance panel has found that there is probable cause of misconduct. Written notice of the hearing will be to the Complainant and to the attorney. The Complainant should contact the Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s office regarding any scheduling issues. Occasionally, a hearing is postponed if a witness or the attorney is unavailable, or if the parties need more time to investigate the complaint or to try and reach an agreement.

Top

10. What happens if the complaint is dismissed after a reviewing committee hearing? 
If a complaint is dismissed by a reviewing committee of the Statewide Grievance Committee, there is no further review of that decision.

Top

11. What discipline can be ordered? 
The reviewing committee must either dismiss the complaint or discipline the attorney after the public hearing. Common disciplinary orders are:
 
Conditions: A disciplinary order of the Statewide Grievance Committee that an attorney fulfill a condition within a certain timeframe. The Statewide Grievance Committee may order an attorney to take continuing legal education courses, pay restitution, take part in fee arbitration, pay an assessment of costs, return a client’s file, submit to audits by the Committee, or get medical, psychological, or substance abuse treatment. The Statewide Grievance Committee can reprimand an attorney for ethical misconduct in addition to imposing the above conditions. If the attorney does not fulfill a condition in a timely manner, the attorney may be brought before the Superior Court for a presentment hearing. The Superior Court may also impose any condition necessary to protect the public. Section 2-37 of the Connecticut Practice Book.

Reprimand: A disciplinary order of the Statewide Grievance Committee after it has found that an attorney has engaged in ethical misconduct. A reprimand can also be ordered by the Superior Court. If an attorney receives more than 3 reprimands in 5 years, a presentment must be filed against the attorney so the Superior Court can decide if more serious discipline should be ordered. Section 2-37 and 2-47 of the Connecticut Practice Book.

Presentment: An order from the Statewide Grievance Committee to the Disciplinary Counsel to file a complaint against the attorney in the Superior Court. The Court then holds a hearing to decide if the attorney should be disciplined or if the complaint should be dismissed. The Court can order any discipline it decides is appropriate to protect the public, including suspension and disbarment.
 
Any discipline imposed is placed on an attorney’s permanent record and is disclosable to the public. The discipline is also published on the Judicial Branch website under Grievance Decisions.

Top

12. What happens if the attorney is presented?
A presentment is an order from the Statewide Grievance Committee to the Disciplinary Counsel to file a complaint against the attorney in the Superior Court. The Statewide Grievance Committee can only issue this order after a finding of clear and convincing evidence of misconduct and when it believes the court should impose a more serious penalty than what the Committee has the authority to do. The Court then holds a hearing to decide if the attorney should be disciplined or if the complaint should be dismissed. The Court can order any discipline it decides is appropriate to protect the public, including suspension and disbarment.

Top

13. What if my complaint is about fees?
If your complaint is about fees, you may want to use the Arbitration of Legal Fee Disputes fee arbitration process set up by the Connecticut Bar Association. To get a copy of the Rules for Arbitration of Legal Fee Disputes and the necessary forms, please contact:

Connecticut Bar Association
30 Bank Street
P.O. Box 350
New Britain, CT 06050-0350
Telephone: (860) 223-4400, Fax: (860) 223-4488
CBA Legal Fee Dispute Resolution External Link - You are leaving the Connecticut Judicial Branch website

Top

14. Will filing a grievance complaint affect my civil or criminal case?
Our office cannot provide you with legal advice about your civil or criminal matter. The filing of a grievance complaint does not directly stop or affect any court proceedings. Your attorney may feel obligated to withdraw as your counsel if you file a grievance complaint.

Top

 
 

Attorneys | Case Look-up | Courts | Directories | Educational Resources | E-Services | Español | FAQ's | Juror Information | Media | Opinions | Opportunities | Self-Help | Home

Common Legal Words | Contact Us | Site Map | Website Policies and Disclaimers

Copyright © 2013, State of Connecticut Judicial Branch