Committees:  Inquiry


The Inquiry Committee, a sub-committee of the Grievance Committee of the Mahoning County Bar Association, is comprised of 18 members appointed for 3 year terms with 6 appointments made each year.  Its authority is to receive, investigate, consider and dispose of attorney-client fee disputes, and in some cases, fee disputes between attorneys. The procedure is commenced by the filing of a written complaint with the Mahoning County Bar Association setting forth the claimant’s view of the fee dispute.  Next, a procedural form for arbitration of the dispute styled CONSENT AND AGREEMENT form vests final authority in the Committee to investigate and determine the fee dispute.  The Chairman of the Committee then assigns a member investigator who meets and confers with the client and the attorney; reviews court files and office files; and interviews, if necessary, third parties.  After investigation, a written report and recommendation is prepared by the investigator and submitted to a quorum of the Committee.  The Chairman of the Committee votes only in case of a tie.  Each report and recommendation is thoroughly reviewed by the Committee and a voice vote taken to accept, modify or reject the investigator’s recommendation.  In some cases further investigation becomes necessary.

Committee members each year must sign a pledge of confidentiality regarding the proceedings of the Committee, a commitment which is strictly followed.  Over the years, the decisions of the Committee have been fairly well divided between decisions for the client and attorney.  Rarely, if ever, is a decision challenged in Court.  However, the Committee will not assume jurisdiction of a fee dispute if proceedings are pending in any Court of record regarding the fee dispute issue.  To the credit of both client(s) and attorney(s), fees either to be paid or refunded have been made as required through the Bar Office.

James L. Messenger

Randal Rummell

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