The New York Minute
Define That Term #196

Second Circuit Forms Committee to Address Grievances Against Attorneys

As reported in this article, a seven person committee has been formed which will investigate and file disciplinary matters that are referred to it by the 2nd Circuit.  (Hat tip: NYSBA General Practice Section Blog

From the article:

The 2nd Circuit has formed a new committee to handle grievances against attorneys, a move officials said signals a more proactive role in evaluating ethics issues...

Michael Jordan, counsel to Chief Judge Jacobs, explained Monday that the committee has existed in the past but had "sort of fallen out of use." "It wasn't particularly active and the chief judge and the court thought it would be in the court's best interest to make a concerted effort to ramp it back up," he said.

Formed under Local Rule 46(h), the committee will accept referrals from the court on "any accusation or evidence of misconduct" that occurs before the court and violates the rules of professional conduct or responsibility.  The matters "may include not only acts of affirmative misconduct but negligent conduct of counsel."

Jordan said the formation of the committee is intended by the court to take a more active role in policing the profession. The court currently votes on attorney disciplinary matters but largely on reciprocal basis --suspending or disciplining attorneys based on actions taken against those attorneys in other state or federal courts.

Under the rule, the committee must give an attorney written notice of the charges against him or her and give the attorney at least 10 days' notice for a hearing on the matter.
Attorneys called to a hearing have a right to be represented by counsel to present witnesses and enter evidence on the attorney's behalf and to confront and cross-examine any witnesses called by the committee.

Once the committee has filed its recommendations with the court, the charged attorney would have 20 days to send the court a statement opposing the recommendation or inform the court of anything that might mitigate the recommendation.

The committee also will have the discretion to refer matters to local bar associations.

This is an interesting development and one that you should be aware of if you happen to practice in the federal courts, as many of us do.


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Scott Greenfield

The solo criminal defense practioner will no doubt take great comfort in knowing the exceptional degree of empathetic members of this committee.

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