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Statewide Grievance Committee
Statewide Bar Counsel

Local Grievance Panels - Frequently Asked Questions
 
  1. If the panel dismisses my grievance complaint, can I appeal it?
  2. Can I respond to the attorney’s answer and provide additional evidence?
  3. Will there be a hearing on my complaint?
  4. Who represents me, the Complainant, in this process?
  5. Does the grievance panel counsel vote on whether to find probable cause?
  6. Are there non-attorneys on the panel?
  7. Can I contact the panel members?
  8. What happens after a finding of probable cause is made that an attorney is guilty of misconduct?
  9. What happens to materials that I submit to the panel? Can they be returned?
  10. Is there anything that I cannot send (confidential documents, psychiatric reports etc.)


1. If the panel dismisses my grievance complaint, can I appeal it?
Unless the grievance panel concludes that the complaint alleges that the attorney committed a crime, the grievance panel must dismiss the complaint if it does not find probable cause that the attorney is guilty of misconduct. The decision is filed with the Statewide Grievance Committee. The grievance panel’s decision to dismiss is final and cannot be appealed.

If the grievance panel finds no probable cause that the attorney is guilty of misconduct, but concludes that the complaint alleged that the attorney committed a crime, then a subcommittee of the Statewide Grievance Committee (known as a reviewing committee) will review the decision and either affirm the decision and dismiss the complaint, or reverse the decision and find that there is probable cause that the attorney is guilty of misconduct.

The grievance panel’s decision that the complaint did or did not allege that the attorney committed a crime is not appealable.

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2. Can I respond to the attorney’s answer and provide additional evidence?
There is no rule permitting a response to an answer. The Complainant should contact the grievance panel’s attorney (known as the grievance counsel), to ask if a response to the attorney’s answer can be sent to the panel.

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3. Will there be a hearing on my complaint?
Generally, no. The local grievance panel may hold a hearing if it believes a hearing is necessary; the local panel may also investigate the complaint without a hearing and ask for statements from witnesses or ask for additional evidence. Often, the local grievance panels only review the written complaint, answer, and evidence submitted by you and the attorney.

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4. Who represents me, the Complainant, in this process?
The grievance process is an investigation by the Judicial Branch into the conduct of an attorney. After you file a complaint, you are called the Complainant. You can provide useful information to the local panel investigating the complaint. If probable cause is found that the attorney is guilty of misconduct, you can help the disciplinary counsel make the case against the attorney. Disciplinary counsel does not have to call you as a witness at the public hearing, but you have the right to make a statement to the Statewide Grievance Committee, if probable cause was found. No one will represent you in this case, and the grievance process is not likely to have an effect on any related civil or criminal action. You can represent yourself in this process or hire counsel to represent you.

5. Does the grievance panel counsel vote on whether to find probable cause?
No. The grievance panel counsel only helps the grievance panel investigate the complaint against the attorney and gives the panel legal advice. The grievance panel counsel does not have a vote.

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6. Are there non-attorneys on the panel?
Yes. Each grievance panel has two attorneys and one non-attorney.

7. Can I contact the panel members?
No. The panel members are asked to review the evidence before them and make a decision. All communication should be with the grievance panel counsel. It is improper to contact a panel member directly; doing so will result in delay and possible transfer of the grievance complaint.

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8. What happens after a finding of probable cause is made that an attorney is guilty of misconduct?
The complaint is sent to the Statewide Grievance Committee for further action.

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9. What happens to materials that I submit to the panel?  Can they be returned?
No. Please make sure you keep a copy or the original of everything you send to the grievance panel.

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10. Is there anything that I cannot send (confidential documents, psychiatric reports etc.)
Yes. You cannot submit personal identifying information in your complaint. If you want to submit any medical, psychiatric or hospital records, then you must provide these records in a sealed envelope with an explanation why they are relevant to the grievance complaint. The panel will decide to review the records or send them back.

 

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