Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 52

SPEAKING OF ETHICS
investigation into the conduct of a District
lawyer.
Acts or omissions by an attorney that violate
the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct constitute
misconduct and are grounds for discipline.
Other grounds for discipline include a violation
of the attorney's oath of office, a conviction for
a crime, discipline imposed in another jurisdiction,
failure to comply with any order of the
Court of Appeals or the BPR issued pursuant
to Rule XI, or failure to respond to a written
inquiry from the Court of Appeals or the BPR
during a disciplinary proceeding without
asserting, in writing, the grounds for refusing to
do so.10
FILING A COMPLAINT
Any person may file a complaint with ODC
alleging attorney misconduct.11
been docketed for investigation. Rule XI
requires ODC to treat complaints as confidential
matters until an attorney has been served
with a petition instituting formal charges or has
agreed to be formally disciplined.17
ODC
responds to inquiries, including inquiries from
the press, as to the status of a complaint by
refusing to confirm or deny that a complaint
has been filed.
complaints to ODC about said attorney's
behavior. It would be unreasonable and administratively
burdensome were each of these third
persons deemed complainants subject to the
notification provisions of the BPR Rules.
Formal disciplinary proceedings
are open to the
public and typically
The complaint
must be in writing and contain a brief statement
of the facts upon which the complaint is
based.12
A complaint may be filed by email, fax,
or mail. Complaint forms are available in
multiple languages from ODC, although use of
a specific form is not required.13
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER
A COMPLAINT IS FILED?
ODC conducts a preliminary screening of all
complaints to determine whether to docket a
complaint for investigation.14
A complaint will
be docketed for investigation where it (1)
contains apparent facts that, if true, may
warrant discipline; (2) is not unfounded on its
face; and (3) is within the jurisdiction of the
disciplinary system.15
If ODC determines that a matter is not to be
docketed for investigation, it notifies the complainant,
giving a brief statement of the
reasons. ODC's decision in this respect is not
subject to review.16
If a complaint is not
docketed, the lawyer is not informed and may
never know that a complaint was filed.
If ODC dockets a matter for investigation, the
complainant and the attorney under investigation
(respondent) are notified that a formal
investigation has been opened. The written
notification to the respondent includes a copy
of the written complaint or other documents
upon which the investigation is based and a
request for a written response from the
respondent.
ODC is prohibited from publicly disclosing that
a complaint has been filed or that a matter has
52 WASHINGTON LAWYER * JULY/AUGUST 2021
involve three levels of
review: first, by a BPR
Hearing Committee;
second, by the BPR; and
third, by the Court of
Appeals, which retains
sole authority to censure,
suspend, or disbar
members of the D.C. Bar.
WHO IS A COMPLAINANT?
Generally, a complainant is an individual who
files a written complaint with ODC and who
has personal knowledge of, or otherwise has
been directly involved with or affected by, the
conduct of a lawyer about whom he or she has
filed a grievance. In some instances, third
parties submit complaints about a lawyer's
alleged misconduct where such persons do
not have personal knowledge of the facts surrounding
the conduct beyond what may have
been reported in the media. These third parties
are neither the lawyer's clients, former clients,
opposing counsel, or opposing parties, nor
otherwise directly involved in or affected by
the lawyer's alleged misconduct. For example,
an attorney's conduct that is widely reported
on the national news may result in hundreds of
This is not to discourage the reporting of
conduct that members of the public or other
attorneys perceive as unethical. It is only to
explain that beyond an initial acknowledgement,
such individuals will not be entitled to
information from ODC related to a specific
lawyer or any ongoing investigation. ODC frequently
initiates investigations based on
reported cases or other information that it may
receive. These investigations are not public
matters unless they result in the filing of
charges. If formal disciplinary charges are instituted
against an attorney, all proceedings
before the Hearing Committee and the BPR are
open to the public, and the petition -
together with any exhibits introduced into
evidence, any pleadings filed by the parties,
and any transcript of the proceeding - are
available for public inspection.18
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER
AN INVESTIGATION?
Upon the conclusion of an investigation,
Disciplinary Counsel may, with the prior
approval of a BPR Contact Member, dismiss the
complaint, issue an informal admonition, or
institute formal charges. Alternatively, with the
prior approval of a BPR member, Disciplinary
Counsel may enter into a diversion agreement.19
Diversion
is reserved for minor misconduct
that has not harmed a client or some
other person. An attorney who receives an
informal admonition may request a formal
hearing before a Hearing Committee, in which
event the admonition is vacated and
Disciplinary Counsel institutes formal charges.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER
FORMAL CHARGES ARE FILED?
As previously noted, formal disciplinary proceedings
are open to the public and typically
involve three levels of review: first, by a BPR
Hearing Committee; second, by the BPR; and
third, by the Court of Appeals, which retains
sole authority to censure, suspend, or disbar
members of the D.C. Bar.20
The proceeding
before a Hearing Committee is a public evidentiary
hearing, conducted on the record, which
may last anywhere from a day to several weeks.
The hearing is followed by a post-hearing

Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Election Coverage
Practice Management
Toward Well-Being
A Conversation with Chad Sarchio feature
Ready for Reentry feature
LSC's Ron Flagg feature
Leadership Academy feature
DC Bar Annual Report
DC Bar Budget
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
The Learning Curve
ABA Delegate's Corner
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Speaking of Ethics
The Pro Bono Effect
A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 1
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 2
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 3
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Election Coverage
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Toward Well-Being
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - A Conversation with Chad Sarchio feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 11
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 12
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 13
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Ready for Reentry feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 15
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 16
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 17
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - LSC's Ron Flagg feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 19
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 20
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 21
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Leadership Academy feature
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 23
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 24
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - DC Bar Annual Report
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 26
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 27
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 28
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 29
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 30
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 31
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 32
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 33
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 34
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 35
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 36
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - DC Bar Budget
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 39
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - The Learning Curve
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - ABA Delegate's Corner
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 43
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 45
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 47
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 50
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Speaking of Ethics
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 52
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 53
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - The Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - 55
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - A Slice of Wry
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - July/August 2021 - Cover4
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