Committees:  Grievance


 

The Grievance Committee is charged with the responsibility of investigating allegations of misconduct and/or unethical activity by judges and/or attorneys.  It is also charged with the responsibility of investigating mental illness issues that might affect the ability of the judge or attorney to fulfill his/her obligations to their clients and/or the public. The Committee is certified by the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Ohio Supreme Court.  Its procedures are governed by the Rules for the Government of the Bar of Ohio as well as by its own internal rules of procedure.

The Committee must investigate any issue involving the potential misconduct and/or unethical activity by a judge or an attorney.  These issues may come to the Committee by way of a formal written complaint filed by any individual.  They may come to the Committee as a result of information in the media.  The information may come to the Committee as a result of oral communication from various individuals in the community.  Any attorney who has knowledge of such activity is charged with the responsibility to report it.  If the attorney does not report it, the failure to report, is, in itself, a violation.

The Committee is governed by the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Code of Judicial Conduct.  If the conduct does not violate either Code, the Committee cannot proceed.  Impolite, uncivil, or rude behavior is not necessarily a violation of either Code.

When the Committee receives any knowledge as portrayed above, it will assign an investigator to investigate the information.  The investigator must submit a written and oral report to the Committee.  The Committee will then determine whether or not there is sufficient evidence to proceed.  If the Committee concludes that there is not sufficient evidence, it will dismiss the complaint.  Upon dismissal, any individual who has complained has the right to have the dismissal reviewed.  The review is accomplished by asking for a review with the Board.  The Board will assign an entity to review the decision.  Usually, that entity is the Disciplinary Council of the State of Ohio.

If the Committee determines that there is sufficient evidence to proceed, the Committee will appoint Bar Counsel.  Bar Counsel is then charged with prosecuting the complaint before the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline.

When a complaint is filed with the Board, the Board will appoint a probable cause panel.  If the panel determines there is no probable cause to believe that a violation of either Code has occurred, it will dismiss the complaint.  If it determines there is probable cause, it will certify the complaint.  The complaint will then become public.  A hearing panel is appointed, and Bar Counsel is charged with the responsibility of prosecuting the complaint before the hearing panel.

The hearing panel will make a report and a recommendation to the full Board.  The Board will consider the matter.  The Board can dismiss the complaint.  The Board can refer it back to the panel for further proceeding or, the Board can submit it a recommendation to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Ohio Supreme Court will receive the recommendation of the Board.  All parties will have the opportunity to show cause as to why the recommendation should not be accepted.  An oral hearing will be heard before the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Ohio Supreme Court has the final authority to determine whether or not there has been a violation of either Code and, if so, what the sanction should be.

If a violation is found, sanctions range from a public reprimand through disbarment.


Chair
Michael Harlan

 

Vice Chair
Ross Smith
 

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