Topic:
ATTORNEYS; COURT PROCEDURE;
Location:
ATTORNEYS;

OLR Research Report


October 20, 2006

 

2006-R-0577

ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE

By: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney

You asked for a brief summary of the statutes and rules that can result in the suspension or disbarment of an attorney in Connecticut. You also asked whether as part of this disciplinary process, the grievance committee can appoint a trustee to take over the disciplined, suspended, or disbarred attorney's practice. Finally, you asked whether the grievance committee has this authority separate from the disciplinary process.

SUMMARY

There are several statutes and numerous court rules that establish the framework for disciplining attorneys for misconduct. The statutes and court rules generally establish the same procedures, although the court rules are much more detailed, contain additional procedures and personnel, and deal with more areas than the statutes do. In a few instances the statutes and rules differ. For example, (1) the time frames are often a little longer in the rules than in the statutes; (2) the rules establish a mechanism for dismissing complaints before they get to a grievance panel, while the statutes do not; and (3) the rules establish the position of disciplinary counsel who investigates each complaint forwarded to the Statewide Grievance Committee (SGC) by a panel and allow him to negotiate a disposition.

We focus on the court rules because Michael Bowler, statewide bar counsel, informed us that in practice, the rules are followed. He also noted that the statutes have not been amended in several years.

Complaints must be filed with the statewide bar counsel who refers them to a grievance panel unless they are summarily dismissed or referred to fee arbitration under certain circumstances.

There are one or more grievance panels in each of the state's 13 judicial districts. A grievance panel is composed of one person who is not an attorney and two attorneys whose law offices are in judicial districts outside that in which the panel serves. Each panel also has an alternate member who is an attorney. No attorney member may hear a complaint against an attorney who has a law office in the same judicial district as the member. The grievance panels are served by separate legal counsel know as grievance counsel.

The panel's primary responsibility is to determine whether there is probable cause to believe an attorney is guilty of misconduct. The preliminary investigation is not public unless the accused attorney (respondent) asks that it be public.

The panel generally has 110 days to complete its work. If it determines that probable cause does not exist, it dismisses the complaint without further review by the SGC unless the complaint alleges that the attorney committed a crime. In such a case, the SGC or a subcommittee must review the panel's finding of no probable cause.

If the grievance panel determines that probable cause exists, it must refer the matter along with all the records to the SGC, which must either conduct a hearing itself or refer it to a subcommittee (known as a reviewing committee) for a hearing that is open to the public. The attorney has the right to be present, be represented by counsel, examine and cross examine witnesses, and present evidence.

After the hearing, the SGC (or a reviewing committee) may decide to (1) dismiss the complaint; (2) impose sanctions and conditions short of suspension or disbarment against the attorney; or (3) direct that the attorney be brought before the Superior Court in a proceeding known as a presentment. Presentments are generally reserved for more serious cases that can result in a court order for suspension or disbarment.

The rules authorize the SGC or a reviewing committee to impose the following sanctions and conditions:

1. reprimand;

2. restitution, for example, return of property belonging to the complainant;

3. assessment of costs;

4. an order that the attorney return a client's file to the client;

5. a requirement that the attorney attend continuing legal education courses, at his own expense, regarding one or more areas of substantive law or law office management;

6. an order to submit to fee arbitration;

7. with the attorney's consent, an order to submit to periodic audits and supervision of the attorney's trust accounts; or

8. with the attorney's consent, a requirement that the attorney undertake treatment, at his or her own expense, for medical, psychological, or psychiatric conditions or for problems of alcohol or substance abuse.

When a presentment is taken to the Superior Court, a public trial is held unless a settlement is reached, and the court may dismiss the complaint or make any order necessary to protect the public including a reprimand, suspension, or disbarment. The Superior Court's decision is final

In addition, the Connecticut Judicial Branch has established a Client Security Fund that can pay a portion of any loss suffered in certain limited types of cases involving professional misconduct.

Regarding the appointment of a trustee, court rules allow a court to appoint a trustee under certain circumstances. But they do not authorize the SGC to do so. The rules allow the court to do so in connection with the grievance process as well as in other situations not involving a grievance against the attorney. Statewide Bar Counsel Bowler indicated that he believes the Superior Court has inherent constitutional authority to appoint a trustee independent of the rules and in situations in addition to those the rules specify. But apparently this precise issue has not been adjudicated yet.

Following is (1) a discussion of the court's authority to appoint a trustee, (2) a summary of the court rules that relate to the grievance process and to an attorney's status as active or inactive, and (3) a summary of statutes that relate to the grievance process. The judges have also adopted procedural rules for the SGC and grievance panels. We have not summarized them. Please let us know if you want us to do so or provide you with a copy of them.

APPOINTMENT OF A TRUSTEE

Regarding the court's authority to appoint a trustee in connection with the grievance process, the rules require the panel, statewide bar counsel, or reviewing committee to (1) notify the disciplinary counsel if there is a disciplinary proceeding pending against a lawyer, or there has been a notice of overdraft in his trust account and (2) the panel, committee, or disciplinary counsel believes that the lawyer poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to his clients or to prospective clients, or that there has been an unexplained overdraft in the lawyer's trust funds account. The disciplinary counsel may then apply to the court for an order of interim suspension. The disciplinary counsel must notify the lawyer that an application for interim suspension has been filed and that a hearing will be held.

The court, after the initial suspension hearing, may, if it finds that the lawyer poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to his clients or to prospective clients, enter an order of interim suspension. Whenever it does so, it may appoint a trustee to protect the clients' and the suspended attorney's interests (Rule 2-42).

The rules also authorize a court to enter an order immediately suspending an attorney pending final disposition of a disciplinary proceeding based on a criminal conviction in Connecticut or elsewhere. Whenever the court does so, it may appoint a trustee to protect the clients' and the attorney's interests (Rules 2-40 (f) and 2-41(e)).

Independent of the grievance process the rules also allow a court to appoint a trustee whenever an attorney is placed in inactive status or resigns from the bar (Rule 2-64). An attorney may be placed in inactive status if (1) a court declares him to be incapable of managing his affairs or (2) he is committed involuntarily to a mental hospital for drug dependency, mental illness, or the excessive use of alcohol (Rule 2-57).

The rules also allow a court to appoint a trustee when an attorney dies if no partner, executor, or other responsible person capable of conducting the attorney's affairs is willing to assume responsibility (2-64(a)).

COURT RULES

2-29 — Grievance Panels

The rules require the judges of the superior court to appoint one or more grievance panels in each judicial district. Each panel must consist of two attorneys who do not maintain a law office in the judicial district and one nonattorney who resides in it. The judges must designate as an alternate member an attorney who does not maintain a law office in the district. Terms begin on July 1. Appointments are for three years. No one may serve as a member or an alternate member for more than two consecutive three year terms. But he may be reappointed after a lapse of one year.

The judges or the superior court executive committee may revoke the appointment or suspend any member, and appoint a qualified individual to fill the vacancy for the balance of the term or for any other appropriate period. If a vacancy arises before the end of a term for other reasons, the executive committee must appoint an attorney or nonattorney, depending on the position vacated, to fill the vacancy for the balance of the term.

Consideration for appointment to these positions must be given to those candidates the administrative judge recommends.

If more than one panel has been appointed to serve a particular judicial district, the superior court's executive committee must establish the jurisdiction of each such panel.

An attorney who maintains a law office in the same judicial district as a respondent may not participate as a member of a grievance panel considering a complaint against him.

Panel Authority and Duties. The rules require and authorize each panel to:

1. inquire into and investigate offenses whether or not they occurred in the court's presence involving the character, integrity, professional standing and conduct of members of the bar in this state;

2. compel people by subpoena to appear before it to testify and to produce before it for examination any books or papers which, in its judgment, may be relevant to its inquiry or investigation; and

3. use a court reporter or court recording monitor employed by the judicial branch to record any testimony taken before it.

The grievance panel may, by a majority vote of its members, require that a disciplinary counsel pursue the matter before the grievance panel on the issue of probable cause.

2-30 — Grievance Counsel for Panels and Investigators

The judges must appoint attorneys to serve either on a part-time or full-time basis as grievance counsel for grievance panels, and must appoint one or more investigators either on full-time or part-time basis. The investigators must serve the SGC, the reviewing committees, and the grievance panels and are under the statewide bar counsel's supervision. These appointments are for a one year term beginning July 1. If a vacancy occurs before the end of a term, the executive committee must fill it occurs the balance of the term.

The judges must give consideration for appointment as grievance counsel for a grievance panel to those recommended by the resident judges in the judicial district or districts to which the appointment is to be made.

The superior court's executive committee must determine the number of grievance counsel to serve the grievance panels.

2-31 — Powers and Duties of Grievance Counsel

The rules require and authorize the grievance counsel to:

1. confer with and, if possible, meet with the complainants and assist them in understanding the grievance process and answer questions they may have concerning that process;

2. investigate all complaints the grievance panel receives from the statewide bar counsel involving an attorney's alleged misconduct;

3. assist the grievance panels in carrying out their duties;

4. assist reviewing committees of the SGC in conducting hearings when the SGC determines it is necessary; and

5. assist the complainant in understanding the reasons for the dismissal if the grievance panel has dismissed the complaint.

2-32 — Filing Complaints against Attorneys

Who May File Complaints. The rules allow any person, including disciplinary counsel, or a grievance panel on its own motion, to file a written complaint alleging attorney misconduct whether or not such alleged misconduct occurred in the court's presence. Complaints must be executed under penalties of false statement and filed with the statewide bar counsel.

The statewide bar counsel must keep a record of all complaints filed. The complainant and the respondent must notify the statewide bar counsel of any change of address or telephone number during the pendency of the proceedings.

Within seven days (five in statute) after receiving a complaint, the statewide bar counsel must review the complaint and, depending on the circumstances, the bar counsel has three options. If it involves a fee dispute he may refer it to arbitration. Otherwise, he must either dismiss it if it fails to meets certain standards or refer it to a grievance panel for a determination of whether there is probable cause to believe misconduct occurred.

Referral to Fee Arbitration. The statewide bar counsel can use fee arbitrations if a complaint alleges only a fee dispute that is not clearly excessive or improper. He, in conjunction with the SGC chairperson or attorney designee and a nonattorney member, may stay further proceedings on the complaint on whatever terms and conditions deemed appropriate, including referring the parties to fee arbitration. The record and result of any fee arbitration must be filed with the statewide bar counsel and must resolve the complaint. A party who refuses to use the no cost fee arbitration service the Connecticut Bar Association provides must pay the arbitration costs.

Dismissal. The state wide bar counsel can refer the complaint to the SGC chairman or an attorney the chair designates and to a nonattorney member of the committee. The statewide bar counsel in conjunction with the chair or attorney designee and the nonattorney member, must if deemed appropriate, summarily dismiss the complaint if it:

1. only alleges a fee dispute and not a clearly excessive or improper fee;

2. does not allege facts that constitute a violation of any attorney conduct rules;

3. does not contain sufficient specific allegations on which to conduct an investigation;

4. is the same as a previously adjudicated complaint;

5. alleges misconduct occurring in a superior, appellate, or supreme court action and the court has rendered a decision finding misconduct or finding that either no misconduct has occurred or that the allegations should not be referred to the SGC;

6. alleges personal behavior outside the practice of law which does not constitute a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct;

7. alleges the nonpayment of incurred indebtedness;

8. names only a law firm or other entity and not any individual attorney, unless dismissal would result in gross injustice (If the complaint names a law firm or other entity as well as an individual attorney or attorneys, the complaint must be dismissed only as against the law firm or entity);

9. alleges misconduct occurring in another jurisdiction in which the attorney is also admitted and in which he maintains a law office, and it would be more practicable for the matter to be determined in the other jurisdiction (If a complaint is dismissed because of this, it must be without prejudice and the matter must be referred by the statewide bar counsel to the jurisdiction in which the conduct is alleged to have occurred.); or

10. alleges that the last act or omission constituting the alleged misconduct occurred more than six years before the complaint was filed.

The six-year period does not apply to an allegation of misconduct that would constitute a violation of certain rules of professional conduct if a written complaint is filed within one year of the discovery of such alleged misconduct. These rules involve safekeeping property (Rule 1.15), bar admission (Rule 8.1), and the following acts of misconduct: (1) committing a crime that reflects adversely on the attorney's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as an attorney in other respects; (2) engaging in conduct that involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; (3) engaging in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice; (4) stating or implying an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official; or (5) knowingly assisting a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law (Rule 8.4(2)-(8)).

Each period of limitation is tolled during any period in which: (1) the alleged misconduct remains undiscovered due to active concealment; (2) the alleged misconduct is part of a continuing course of misconduct; or (3) the aggrieved party is under the age of majority, insane, or otherwise unable to file a complaint due to mental or physical incapacitation; or (4) the alleged misconduct would constitute a violation of Rule 1.8(c) and the conditions precedent of the instrument have not been satisfied. (Rule 1.8(c) prohibits an attorney from preparing an instrument such as a will that gives him or his parent, child, sibling, or spouse any substantial gift, except where the client is his relative.)

Time Frame To Dismiss. The rules give the statewide bar counsel, chair or attorney designee, and nonattorney member 14 days from the date the complaint was filed to determine whether to dismiss it. If after this review it is determined that the complaint should be forwarded to a grievance panel for investigation, it must be sent within seven days.

Notice Of Dismissal And Appeal. If the statewide bar counsel in conjunction with the chair or attorney designee and nonattorney member dismiss the complaint, the complainant and respondent must be notified of the dismissal in writing. The respondent must be provided with a copy of the complaint with the notice of dismissal. The notice of dismissal must specify the reasons for the dismissal.

The complainant has 14 days from the date notice of the dismissal is mailed to him to file an appeal. (This is the only instance in the grievance process that a complainant can appeal an adverse ruling.) It must be in writing, specify the basis of the appeal, and be filed with the statewide bar counsel who must forward it to a reviewing committee. The reviewing committee must review the appeal and render a decision within 60 days of the filing of the appeal. The reviewing committee must either affirm the dismissal of the complaint or order the complaint forwarded to a grievance panel for investigation. The decision of the reviewing committee must be in writing and mailed to the complainant. The decision of the reviewing committee is final.

Referral to Grievance Panel. A third option bar council can follow is to forward it to a grievance panel in the judicial district in which the respondent maintains his principal office or residence. But if the respondent does not maintain such an address in Connecticut, the statewide bar counsel must forward it to any grievance panel and notify the complainant and the respondent, by certified mail with return receipt, of the panel to which he sent it. The notice must include a copy of the complaint.

If for good cause a grievance panel declines, or is unable to investigate a complaint, it must immediately return it to the statewide bar counsel who must immediately refer it to another panel and notify the complainant and the respondent by certified mail with return receipt.

The respondent must respond within 30 days of the date notification was mailed unless the grievance panel extends the time for good cause. The response must be sent to the grievance panel to which the complaint has been referred. The rules specify that the failure to file a timely response constitutes misconduct unless the respondent establishes that there was a good reason for failing to respond on time.

The grievance panel, with the assistance of the grievance counsel assigned to it, must investigate each complaint to determine whether probable cause exists that the attorney is guilty of misconduct. The grievance panel may, upon the vote of a majority of its members, require that a disciplinary counsel pursue the matter before the grievance panel on the issue of probable cause. Investigations and proceedings of the grievance panel are confidential unless the attorney under investigation requests that they be public.

The rules allow the grievance panel to conduct a hearing if the respondent asks for one or it may do so on its own motion. The complainant and respondent have the right to be present at any proceedings at which testimony is given and have counsel present. But they do not have the right to examine or cross-examine witnesses unless the grievance panel requests this. The panel must complete its work within 110 days from the date the complaint was referred to it unless the SGC gives it an extension.

Probable Cause Finding. If the panel determines that probable cause exists, it must file the following material, which constitutes its record, with the SGC and with the disciplinary counsel:

1. its written determination that probable cause exists;

2. a copy of the complaint and response;

3. a transcript of any testimony heard by the panel; and

4. a copy of any investigatory file and copies of any documents, transcripts, or other written materials which were available to the panel.

Finding of No Probable Cause. If the panel determines that no probable cause exists, it must dismiss the complaint unless there is an allegation in the complaint that the respondent committed a crime. The dismissal is final and the SGC cannot review the decision. The panel must file with the SGC a copy of its decision dismissing the complaint along with the rest of its records in the case.

Extension. A panel may file a motion for extension of up to 30 days with the grievance committee which may grant the motion upon a finding of good cause. If the panel does not complete its action on a complaint within its required time, the SGC must inquire into the delay and order that the panel take action on the complaint immediately, or order that the complaint be forwarded to and heard by another panel or a reviewing committee it designates.

Misconduct Not Alleged in the Complaint. The panel may not make a probable cause determination based on a claim of misconduct not alleged in the complaint without first notifying the respondent that it is considering it and giving him the opportunity to be heard.

Notice to Statewide Committee and Public. The panel must notify the complainant, the respondent, and the SGC of its determination. The determination of probable cause is public.

2-33 — Statewide Grievance Committee (SGC)

Appointment of 21 Person Statewide Committee. The Superior Court judges must appoint 21 people to a committee to be known as the “Statewide Grievance Committee,” (referred to in this report as the SGC). At least seven cannot be attorneys and the remainder must be licensed Connecticut attorneys. The judges must designate one member as chair and another as vice-chair.

Term of Office. All members must serve for a term of three years beginning on July 1. No person may serve as a member for more than two consecutive three year terms, excluding any appointments for less than a full term. A member may be reappointed after a lapse of one year.

If the term of a member who is on a reviewing committee expires while a complaint is pending before that committee, the judges or the executive committee may extend the term until the reviewing committee has completed its action on that complaint. In the event of such an extension the total number of statewide grievance committee members may exceed 21.

Revocation or Suspension of Member. The judges or the executive committee may revoke or suspend any member. When this occurs, the judges or the executive committee must appoint someone qualified to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term or for any other appropriate period. In the event that a vacancy arises in this position before the end of a term for other reasons, the executive committee must fill the vacancy for the balance of the term or for any other appropriate period.

Quorum. The committee must have at least a quorum of 11 members present to act. The committee must act by a vote of a majority of those present and voting. Thus, a minimum of six votes for a particular action is necessary for the committee to act. Members present but not voting due to disqualification, abstention, silence, or a refusal to vote, must be counted to establish a quorum, but not counted in calculating a majority of those present and voting.

Committee's Powers and Duties. In addition to any other powers and duties, the rules authorize the SGC to:

1. institute complaints involving the unauthorized practice of law;

2. adopt rules to carry out its duties;

3. adopt rules for grievance panels to carry out their duties; and

4. in its discretion, disclose that it or the statewide bar counsel has referred a complaint to a panel for investigation when the committee deems it to be in the public interest.

2-34 — Statewide Bar Counsel

Appointment of Statewide Bar Counsel and Assistants. The rules require the judges of the superior court to appoint an attorney to act as statewide bar counsel, and whatever additional attorneys to act as assistant bar counsel as are necessary, for a term of one year beginning July 1. If a vacancy occurs before the end of a term, the executive committee must appoint an attorney to fill the vacancy for the balance of the term. Compensation for these positions must be paid by the Judicial Branch. Such individuals are in the legal services division of the Office of the Chief Court Administrator and must perform whatever other duties assigned to them in that capacity.

Powers and Duties of Statewide Bar Counsel. In addition to any other powers and duties specified, the statewide bar counsel or an assistant bar counsel must:

1. report to the national disciplinary data bank such requested information as is officially reported to the statewide bar counsel concerning attorneys who have resigned, or whose unethical conduct has resulted in disciplinary action by the court or by the SGC, or who have been placed on inactive status;

2. receive and maintain information forwarded by the national disciplinary data bank;

3. receive and maintain records forwarded to the statewide bar counsel by the court clerks regarding an attorney's status, and any complainants filed against them;

4. certify to the status of individuals who are or were members of the Connecticut bar at the request of bar admission authorities of other jurisdictions or at the request of a Connecticut attorney (In certifying to the status of an individual, no information may be provided, other than public information, without a waiver from that individual.); and

5. assist the SGC and the reviewing committees in carrying out their duties.

2-34A — Disciplinary Counsel

Appointment of Chief Disciplinary Counsel and Assistants. The rules require that there be a chief disciplinary counsel and such disciplinary counsel and staff as are necessary. The chief disciplinary counsel and the disciplinary counsel must be appointed by the judges of the superior court for a term of one year beginning July 1.

If a vacancy arises before the end of a term, the executive committee may appoint a qualified individual to fill it for the balance of the term. The chief disciplinary counsel and disciplinary counsel must be assigned to the office of the chief court administrator for administrative purposes and may not engage in the private practice of law. (As used in the rules, the term “disciplinary counsel” means the chief disciplinary counsel or any disciplinary counsel.)

Powers and Duties. In addition to any other powers and duties, disciplinary counsel must investigate each complaint that has been forwarded, after a grievance panel finds probable cause, to the SGC for review, and pursue the matter before the SGC or reviewing committee.

A disciplinary counsel must also:

1. discuss and may negotiate a disposition of the complaint with the respondent or, if represented by an attorney, the respondent's attorney, subject to the approval of the SGC a reviewing committee, or the court;

2. remove irrelevant information from the complaint file and permit discovery of information in the file;

3. have the power to subpoena witnesses for any hearing before a grievance panel, a reviewing committee, or the SGC convened pursuant to court rules;

4. recommend dispositions to the SGC or the reviewing committee after the hearing on a complaint is concluded;

5. at the SGC or a reviewing committee's request, prepare and file complaints initiating presentment proceedings in the superior court, whether or not the alleged misconduct occurred in the court's presence, and prosecute these complaints;

6. at a grievance panel's request, pursue the matter before the grievance panel on the issue of probable cause; and

7. investigate and prosecute complaints involving the unauthorized practice of law.

2-35 — Action by Statewide Grievance Committee (SGC) or Reviewing Committee

Referral to Reviewing Committee. When it receives a referral from a grievance panel, the SGC may assign the case to a reviewing committee, which must consist of at least three members of the SGC, at least one third of whom are not attorneys. The SGC may, in its discretion, reassign the case to a different reviewing committee. The committee must regularly rotate membership on reviewing committees and assignments of complaints from the various grievance panels. An attorney who maintains a law office in the same judicial district as the respondent may not sit on the reviewing committee for that case.

Subpoena Power. The rules give the SGC and the reviewing committee the power to issue a subpoena to compel any person to appear before it to testify on the record and to produce any books or papers which, in its judgment, may be relevant to the complaint.

Dismissal by Reviewing Committee Without SGC Review. The reviewing committee may dismiss the complaint without the SGC's review if, after its review of a complaint a panel forwarded to the SGC, it agrees with the panel's determination that probable cause does not exist and neither the SGC nor another reviewing committee has found probable cause. The reviewing committee must file its decision dismissing the complaint with the SGC along with the record of the matter and must send a copy of its decision to the complainant, the respondent, and the grievance panel to which the complaint was assigned.

Required Public Hearing. If the grievance panel determines that probable cause exists, the SGC or the reviewing committee must hold a hearing on the complaint. If the grievance panel determines that probable cause does not exist, but files the matter with the SGC because the complaint alleges that a crime has been committed, the SGC or the reviewing committee must review the determination of no probable cause, and take evidence if it deems it appropriate.

If the grievance panel determined that probable cause does not exist, but filed it with the SGC because the complaint alleged a crime was committed, the SGC must review the panel's determination of no probable cause, and concludes that probable cause exists, it must hold a hearing concerning the complaint or assign the matter to a reviewing committee to hold the hearing. If a reviewing committee reviews the grievance panel's determination and concludes probable cause exists, it must hold a hearing concerning the complaint or refer the matter to the SGC which must assign it to another reviewing committee to hold the hearing.

Hearing Rules. The rules require that at least two of the same members of a reviewing committee must be physically present at all hearings. Unless waived by the disciplinary counsel and the respondent, the remaining member of the reviewing committee must obtain and review the transcript of each such hearing and must participate in the committee's determination. The review by the SGC or reviewing committee of a grievance panel determination that probable cause exists cannot be limited to the grievance panel determination. The SGC or reviewing committee may review the entire record and determine whether any allegation in the complaint, or any issue arising from the review of the record or arising during any hearing on the complaint, supports a finding of probable cause of misconduct.

Notice After a Probable Cause Finding. If either the SGC or the reviewing committee determines that probable cause exists, it must issue a written notice that includes (1) a description of the factual allegation or allegations that it considered in reaching its decision; and (2) for each such factual allegation, an identification of the specific provision or provisions of the applicable rules governing attorney conduct considered in reaching the decision.

All hearings following a determination of probable cause must be public and on the record. The SGC or reviewing committee may not make a probable cause determination based on a claim of misconduct not alleged in the complaint without first notifying the respondent that it is considering such action and affording him the opportunity to be heard.

Rights of Parties at Hearing. The complainant and respondent have the right to be present at all hearings and other proceedings on the complaint at which testimony is given and to have counsel present. At all hearings the respondent must have the right to be heard in the respondent's own defense and by witnesses and counsel. The disciplinary counsel must pursue the matter before the SGC or reviewing committee. The disciplinary counsel and the respondent have the right to examine or cross-examine witnesses. At the end of the hearing's evidentiary phase, the complainant, the disciplinary counsel, and the respondent must have the right to make a statement, either individually or through counsel. The SGC or reviewing committee may request oral argument.

Time Period for a Finding. Within 90 days of the date the grievance panel filed its determination with the SGC, the reviewing committee must render a final written decision dismissing the complaint, imposing sanctions and conditions as authorized by rules, or directing the disciplinary counsel to file a presentment against the respondent in the superior court and file it with the SGC.

Final Decision Dismissing the Complaint. Where there is a final decision dismissing the complaint, the reviewing committee may give notice in a written summary order to be followed by a full written decision. The reviewing committee's record in the case must consist of a copy of all evidence it received or considered, including a transcript of any testimony it heard, and its decision. The record must also be sent to the SGC. The reviewing committee must forward a copy of the final decision to the complainant, the disciplinary counsel, the respondent, and the grievance panel to which the complaint was forwarded. The decision must be a matter of public record if it results in the imposition of discipline.

Motion for Extension of Time to Decide Complaint. The reviewing committee may file a motion for extension of up to 30 days with the SGC, which must grant the motion only upon a showing of good cause. If the reviewing committee does not complete its action on a complaint within its deadline, the SGC must, on motion of the complainant or the respondent or on its own motion, inquire into the delay and determine the appropriate course of action. Enforcement of the final decision, including the publication of the notice of a reprimand, must be stayed for 30 days from the date of the issuance to the parties of the final decision. If the respondent submits to the SGC a timely request for review of the final decision of the reviewing committee's final decision, such stay must remain in full force and effect for 30 days or until any appeal is over.

Review by Statewide Committee of Reviewing Committee's Decision. Within 30 days after the reviewing committee issues its final decision, the respondent may ask the SGC to review it. The request must specify the reasons for it. The reasons may include, but are not limited to, a claim that the reviewing committee's findings, inferences, conclusions, or decision is or are:

1. in violation of the constitution, rules of practice, or statutory;

2. in excess of the authority of the reviewing committee;

3. made upon unlawful procedure;

4. affected by other legal error;

5. clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record; or

6. arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.

The respondent must serve a copy of the request for review on disciplinary counsel. Within 14 days of the request, the disciplinary counsel may file a response. Disciplinary counsel must serve a copy of the response on the respondent.

When Statewide Panel Does Not Use a Reviewing Committee. If the SGC does not assign a complaint to a reviewing committee, it has 120 days from the date the panel's determination was filed with it to render a decision dismissing the complaint, imposing sanctions and conditions, or directing the disciplinary counsel to file a presentment against the respondent in court. The decision must be public. The failure of a reviewing committee to complete its action on a complaint within the time allowed is not a reason to dismiss the complaint.

Violation of Criminal Law — If the SGC or a reviewing committee finds probable cause to believe that the respondent has violated the criminal law of this state, it must report its findings to the chief state's attorney.

2-36 — Action by SGC on Request for Review

Within 60 days after the expiration of the 30-day period for the filing of a request for review under 2-35(g), or, with regard to grievance complaints filed on or after January 1, 2004, within 60 days of the expiration of the 14 day period for the filing of a response by disciplinary counsel to a request for review under that section, the SGC must issue a written decision affirming the decision of the reviewing committee, dismissing the complaint, imposing sanctions and conditions as authorized by 2-37, directing the disciplinary counsel to file a presentment against the respondent in the superior court, or referring the complaint to the same or a different reviewing committee for further investigation and a decision. Before issuing its decision, the SGC may, in its discretion, request oral argument. The SGC must forward a copy of its decision to the complainant, the disciplinary counsel, the respondent, the reviewing committee, and the grievance panel which investigated the complaint. The decision must be a matter of public record. A decision of the SGC must be issued only if the respondent has timely filed a request for review under 2-35(g).

2-37 — Sanctions and Conditions Which May Be Imposed by Committees

Under the court's rules, a reviewing committee or the SGC may impose one or more of the following sanctions and conditions:

1. reprimand;

2. restitution;

3. assessment of costs;

4. an order that the respondent return a client's file to the client;

5. a requirement that the respondent attend continuing legal education courses, at his or her own expense, regarding one or more areas of substantive law or law office management;

6. an order to submit to fee arbitration;

7. with the respondent's consent, an order to submit to periodic audits and supervision of the attorney's trust accounts to insure compliance with the provisions of 2-27 and the related Rules of Professional Conduct; or

8. with the respondent's consent, a requirement that the respondent undertake treatment, at his or her own expense, for medical, psychological, or psychiatric conditions or for problems of alcohol or substance abuse.

A party who refuses to use the no cost fee arbitration service the Connecticut Bar Association provides must pay the arbitration costs.

Failure of the respondent to comply with any sanctions or conditions the SGC or a reviewing committee imposes may be grounds for presentment before the superior court.

2-38 — Appeal from Decision of SGC or Reviewing Committee to Reprimand

Right to Appeal. A respondent may appeal to the superior court a decision by the SGC or a reviewing committee reprimanding him. But a respondent may not appeal a decision by a reviewing committee reprimanding him if he has not timely asked the SGC to review it. Within 35 days from the issuance of the SGC's decision, the respondent must: (1) file the appeal with the clerk of the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford and (2) mail a copy of the appeal by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the Office of the Statewide Bar Counsel as agent for the SGC.

Delay of Enforcement. Enforcement of a final decision by the SGC or a reviewing committee reprimanding the respondent, including the publication of the notice of reprimand, must be stayed for 30 days from the issuance to the parties of such decision.

If within that period the respondent files with the SGC a request to review the reviewing committee's decision, the stay must remain in effect for 35 days from the SGC's final decision. If the respondent timely begins an appeal, such stay must remain in effect until the conclusion of all proceedings, including all appeals. If at the conclusion of all proceedings, the decision reprimanding the respondent is rescinded, the complaint must be deemed dismissed as of the date of the reprimand decision. An application to terminate the stay may be made to the court and must be granted if the court determines (1) the appeal was taken only for delay or (2) the due administration of justice requires that the stay be terminated.

Copy of Record. Within 30 days after the service of the appeal, or within such further time as the court allows, the statewide bar counsel must transmit to the reviewing court a certified copy of the entire record. This must include (1) the grievance panel's record in the case, and (2) a copy of the SGC's record or the reviewing committee's record in the case, which must include a transcript of any testimony, any decision by the reviewing committee in the case, and a copy of the SGC's decision on the request for review. By stipulation of all parties to the appeal proceedings, the record may be shortened. The court may require or permit subsequent corrections or additions to the record.

Nature of the Appeal. The court must conduct the appeal without a jury and it must be based on the record. If alleged irregularities in the procedure before the SGC or reviewing committee are not shown in the record, proof limited to this issue may be taken in the court. The court, upon request, must hear oral argument.

The respondent must file a brief within 30 days after the filing of the record by the statewide bar counsel. The disciplinary counsel must file his or her brief within 30 days of the filing of the respondent's brief. Unless permission is given by the court for good cause shown, briefs may not exceed 35 pages.

Court Options on Appeal. Upon appeal, the court must not substitute its judgment for that of the SGC or reviewing committee as to the weight of the evidence on questions of fact. The court must affirm the committee unless the court finds that substantial rights of the respondent have been prejudiced because the committee's findings, inferences, conclusions, or decisions are:

1. in violation of the constitution, rules of practice, or statutes;

2. in excess of the committee's authority;

3. made upon unlawful procedure;

4. affected by other legal error of law;

5. clearly erroneous in view of the reliable, probative, and substantial evidence on the whole record; or

6. arbitrary, capricious, or an abuse of discretion, or a clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.

If the court finds such prejudice, it must sustain the appeal and, if appropriate, rescind the action of the SGC or take such other action as may be necessary. For purposes of further appeal, the action taken by the superior court is a final judgment.

Appeal Costs. In all such appeals, costs may be taxed in favor of the SGC in the same manner, and to the same extent, that costs are allowed in judgments rendered by the superior court. No costs must be taxed against the SGC, except that the court may, in its discretion, award to the respondent reasonable fees and expenses if the court determines that the action of the committee was undertaken without any substantial justification. “Reasonable fees and expenses” means any expenses not exceeding $7,500, which the court finds were reasonably incurred in opposing the committee's action, including court costs, expenses incurred in administrative proceedings, attorney's fees, witness fees of all necessary witnesses, and such other expenses as were reasonably incurred.

2-82 — Misconduct; Discipline by Consent

The rules allow a disciplinary counsel to whom a complaint is forwarded after a finding that probable cause exists to negotiate a proposed disposition of the complaint with the respondent or, if the respondent is represented by an attorney, with the respondent's attorney. A proposed disposition must be based upon the respondent's misconduct, which must consist of either (1) an admission by him that the material facts alleged in the complaint, or a portion of it describing one or more acts of misconduct, are true, or (2) if the respondent denies some or all of the material facts, an acknowledgment by him that there is sufficient evidence to prove the material facts by clear and convincing evidence.

If disciplinary counsel and the respondent agree to a proposed disposition, they must place their agreement in writing and submit it, together with the complaint, the record in the matter, and the respondent's underlying misconduct, for approval by either (1) the court, in all matters involving possible suspension or disbarment, or possible imposition of a period of probation or other sanctions beyond the SGC's authority, or (2) a reviewing committee of the statewide grievance committee, in all other matters. If, after a hearing, the misconduct is accepted and the proposed disposition is approved by the court or the reviewing committee, the matter must be disposed of in the manner agreed to. If the court or reviewing committee rejects any misconduct, it and the proposed disposition must be withdrawn, can not be made public, and may not be used against the respondent in any subsequent proceedings. In that event, the matter must be referred for further proceedings to a different judicial authority or reviewing committee, as appropriate.

If disciplinary counsel and the respondent can not agree to a proposed disposition, the respondent may nonetheless tender an admission of misconduct. The disciplinary counsel must forward it, together with the complaint and the record, possible acceptance and disposition by (1) the court, in all matters involving possible suspension or disbarment, or possible imposition of a period of probation or other sanctions beyond the SGC's authority; or (2) by a reviewing committee of the statewide grievance committee, in all other matters. If, after a hearing, the court or committee accepts the misconduct, the matter must be disposed of and any resulting imposition of discipline must be made public in the manner prescribed by these rules. If the court or reviewing committee rejects the admission it must be withdrawn, it may not be made public, or used against the respondent in any subsequent proceedings. In that event, the matter must be referred for further proceedings to a different judicial authority or reviewing committee, as appropriate.

A respondent, who tenders an admission of misconduct and, if applicable, enters with disciplinary counsel into a proposed disposition of the matter, must present to the court or the reviewing committee an affidavit stating the following:

1. that the misconduct and, if applicable, the proposed disposition are freely and voluntarily submitted; that the respondent is not doing so because of any threats or other coercion or duress, or any promises or other inducements not set forth in the proposed disposition; and that the respondent is fully aware of the consequences;

2. that the respondent is aware that there is presently pending a complaint in connection with which probable cause has been found that the respondent committed the following acts of misconduct; (list specific acts); and

3. either (a) the respondent admits that the material facts alleged in the complaint or in that portion to which the respondent's admission relates, are true, or (b) if the respondent denies some or all of such material facts, that he acknowledges that there is sufficient evidence to prove them by clear and convincing evidence.

The rules authorize the disciplinary counsel to recommend dismissal of acts of misconduct alleged in the complaint that the respondent does not admit. The respondent's admission of some acts of misconduct do not foreclose the disciplinary counsel from pursuing discipline based upon other acts of misconduct alleged in the complaint.

2-39 — Reciprocal Discipline

Upon being informed that a lawyer admitted to the Connecticut bar has resigned, been disbarred, suspended, otherwise disciplined, or placed on inactive disability status in another jurisdiction, and that the discipline or inactive disability status has not been stayed, the disciplinary counsel must obtain a certified copy of the order and file it with the superior court for the judicial district where the lawyer maintains a law office. If the lawyer has no such office, the disciplinary counsel must file the certified copy of the order with the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford.

Upon receiving a certified copy of the order, the court must immediately serve the lawyer with a copy of the order from the other jurisdiction and an order directing him to file an answer within 30 days admitting or denying the action in the other jurisdiction and setting forth, if any, reasons why similar action in this state would be unwarranted. The certified copy constitutes prima facie evidence that the order of the other jurisdiction is valid and that the findings contained therein are true.

After the 30 day period, the court must assign the matter for a hearing. After hearing, the court must impose the same penalty the other jurisdiction imposed unless it finds that any defense set forth in the answer has been established by clear and convincing evidence. But a reciprocal discipline action does not have to be filed if the conduct giving rise to discipline in another jurisdiction has already been the subject of a formal review by the court or the SGC.

2-40 — Discipline of Attorneys Convicted of a Felony

The clerk of the superior court where an attorney has been convicted of a serious crime must immediately transmit a conviction certificate to the disciplinary counsel and to the SGC. The term “serious crime” means any felony, larceny, or crime for which the attorney was sentenced to a term of incarceration or for which a suspended period of incarceration was imposed. The term “conviction” refers to a plea of guilty, no contest, or a verdict after trial or otherwise, regardless of the pendency of any appeal.

The attorney must also notify the disciplinary counsel in writing of his conviction. The disciplinary counsel or designee must file a presentment against the attorney based on the conviction unless the offense carries a maximum penalty of one year or less in prison. The failure of an attorney to notify the disciplinary counsel is misconduct.

After sentencing an attorney for a serious crime, the sentencing judge may in his discretion enter an order immediately suspending the attorney pending final disposition of a disciplinary proceeding predicated upon the conviction. Thereafter, upon good cause shown, the judge who placed the attorney on suspension, or any other judge before whom a presentment is pending may, in the interest of justice, set aside or modify the interim suspension.

A presentment filed because of a conviction must be heard by the judge who presided at the sentencing. A hearing on the presentment complaint addressing the issue of the attorney's eligibility to continue the practice of law in Connecticut must be held within 30 days of sentencing or the filing of the presentment, whichever is later. The hearing must be prosecuted by the disciplinary counsel or a designee. At the hearing, the attorney has the right to counsel, to be heard in his own defense, and to present evidence and witnesses in his behalf. After the hearing, the judge must enter an order dismissing the matter or imposing discipline upon such attorney in the form of suspension for a period of time, disbarment, or whatever other discipline the judge deems appropriate.

Whenever the judge enters an order suspending or disbarring an attorney, he may appoint a trustee to protect the clients' and the attorney's interests.

If an attorney suspended solely for having been convicted of a crime demonstrates to the court that the underlying judgment of conviction has been vacated or reversed, the court must vacate the order of interim suspension and place the attorney on active status. The vacating of the interim suspension may not automatically terminate any other disciplinary proceeding then pending against the attorney.

Immunity from prosecution granted to an attorney is not a bar to disciplinary proceedings, unless a judge orders otherwise. The granting of a pretrial diversion program to an attorney charged with a serious crime is not a bar to disciplinary proceedings, unless the judge who granted the program to the attorney orders otherwise.

There is a similar requirement for a conviction in another jurisdiction (see 2-41).

2-42 — Conduct Constituting Threat of Harm to Clients (Interim Suspension)

The rules require the panel, statewide counsel, or reviewing committee to notify the disciplinary counsel if (1) there is a disciplinary proceeding pending against a lawyer or notice of overdraft in his trust account and (2) the panel, committee, or the disciplinary counsel believes that the lawyer poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to his clients or to prospective clients, or there has been an unexplained overdraft in the lawyer's trust funds account. The disciplinary counsel must, after being notified or based on his own belief, apply to the court for an order of interim suspension. The disciplinary counsel must provide the lawyer with notice that an application for interim suspension has been filed and that a hearing will be held.

The court, after hearing, pending final disposition of the disciplinary proceeding, may, if it finds that the lawyer poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to his clients or to prospective clients, enter an order of interim suspension, or may order such other interim action as it deems appropriate. Thereafter, upon good cause shown, the court may, in the interest of justice, set aside or modify the interim suspension or other order. Whenever the court enters an interim suspension order, the court may appoint a trustee to protect the clients' and the suspended attorney's interests.

Any hearings required by the proceedings may, in the court's discretion, be held in chambers.

2-43 — Notice by Attorney of Alleged Misuse of Clients' Funds and Garnishment of Lawyers' Trust Accounts

When any complaint, counterclaim, cross complaint, special defense, or other pleading in a judicial or administrative proceeding alleges a lawyer's misuse of funds handled by the lawyer in his capacity as a lawyer or a fiduciary, the person signing the pleading must mail a copy to the statewide bar counsel.

In any case where a lawyer's trust account is garnished or otherwise liened, the party who sought the garnishment or lien must mail a copy of the garnishee process or writ of attachment to the statewide bar counsel.

2-44 — Power of Superior Court to Discipline Attorneys and to Restrain Unauthorized Practice

The rules authorize the superior court, for just cause, to suspend or disbar attorneys and, for just cause, to punish or restrain any person engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

2-45 — Power of Superior Court to Discipline Attorneys and to Restrain Unauthorized Practice—Cause Occurring in Presence of Court

If misconduct occurs in the court's presence, the order may be summary, and without complaint or hearing. But a record must be made of such order reciting the reasons for it. Without limiting the inherent powers of the court, if attorney misconduct occurs in the actual presence of the court, the SGC and the grievance panels must defer to the court if the court chooses to exercise its jurisdiction.

2-46 — Suspension of Attorneys Who Violate Support Orders

A judge, upon finding that an attorney admitted to the bar in this state is a delinquent child support obligor, may issue a suspension warning order.

If the attorney fails to comply within 30 days of its issuance, the Department of Social Services, a support enforcement officer, the attorney for the obligee or the obligee, as provided in the suspension order, must file with the clerk of the superior court which issued the suspension order an affidavit stating that the conditions of the suspension warning order have not been met, and must serve the attorney obligor with a copy of such affidavit. The affidavit must be filed within 45 days after the 30 day period.

Upon receipt of the affidavit, the clerk must immediately bring the suspension order and the affidavit to a judge for review. If the judge determines the attorney obligor should be suspended, he must suspend him from the practice of law, effective immediately.

A suspended attorney, who has complied with the conditions of the suspension order concerning reinstatement, must file a motion with the court to vacate the suspension. Upon proof of compliance, the court must vacate the order of suspension and reinstate the attorney.

The clerk must notify the statewide bar counsel of any suspensions and reinstatements ordered pursuant to this section.

2-47 — Presentments to the Superior Court

Presentment of attorneys for misconduct, whether or not the misconduct occurred in the court's presence, must be made by written complaint of the disciplinary counsel. A hearing on the merits of the complaint must be held within 60 days of the date the complaint was filed with the court.

At the hearing, the respondent has the right to be heard in his own defense and by witnesses and counsel. After such hearing the court must render a judgment (1) dismissing the complaint; (2) reprimanding, suspending, or disbarring him; or (3) imposing such other discipline as the court deems appropriate. This may include conditions the respondent must fulfill before he may apply for readmission or reinstatement.

If the SGC or a reviewing committee determines that a respondent is guilty of misconduct and the misconduct does not otherwise warrant a presentment to the superior court, but the respondent has been disciplined at least three times because of complaints filed within the preceding five year period, the SGC or the reviewing committee must direct the disciplinary counsel to file a presentment against him in the superior court.

The SGC or the reviewing committee must file with the court the record in the matter and a copy of the prior discipline issued against him. The sole issue the court must decide is the appropriate action to take as a result of the nature of the misconduct and the cumulative discipline issued concerning him within such five year period.

If the respondent has appealed the issuance of a finding of misconduct made by the SGC or the reviewing committee, the court must first adjudicate and decide that appeal. If the court denies his appeal it must then adjudicate the presentment. The court may not review the merits of the matters for which the prior reprimands were issued against the respondent.

2-47A — Disbarment of Attorney for Misappropriation of Funds

Court rules require that an attorney must be disbarred in any disciplinary proceeding where a superior court judge has found that a lawyer has knowingly misappropriated a client's funds or other property held in trust.

2-48 — Designee to Prosecute Presentments

The superior court's executive committee may choose one or more attorneys to prosecute presentments. The chief court administrator may also contract with attorneys to prosecute presentments, actions for reciprocal discipline, actions for interim suspension, and disciplinary proceedings predicated on the conviction of an attorney of a felony or other crime as specified by court rules.

2-49 — Restitution

Whenever an attorney has made restitution, the panel or committee investigating the attorney's conduct must determine if further proceedings are necessary. The SGC must review the decision if the panel or committee determines further proceedings are unnecessary.

2-50 — Records of SGC, Reviewing Committee, and Grievance Panel and Bar Examining Committee

Required Records — The rules require the SGC to maintain the record of each grievance proceeding. The record must consist of the following:

1. the grievance panel's record;

2. the reviewing committee's record;

3. the SGC's record;

4. any probable cause determinations issued by the SGC or a reviewing committee;

5. transcripts of hearings held before the SGC or a reviewing committee;

6. the reviewing committee's proposed decision;

7. any statement submitted to the SGC concerning a proposed decision;

8. the SGC's final decision;

9. the reviewing committee's final decision;

10. any request for review submitted to the SGC concerning a reviewing committee's decision; and

11. the SGC's decision on the request for review.

Non-Public Records. The rules make the following records of the SGC unavailable to the public:

1. all records pertaining to grievance complaints that have been decided by a local grievance committee before July 1, 1986;

2. all records pertaining to grievance complaints that have been filed on or after July 1, 1986, and that have been dismissed by a grievance panel, by the SGC, or by a reviewing committee (all grievance complaints that were pending before a grievance panel on July 1, 1986 are deemed to have been filed on that date);

3. all records of complaints dismissed for reasons specified in the rules;

4. all records of the SGC and grievance panels pertaining to grievance proceedings that have been concluded by a final judgment of the superior court, after all appeals are exhausted,: (a) in a proceeding under 2-38 rescinding a reprimand, including a judgment directed on an appeal from the superior court; (b) in a proceeding commenced pursuant to 2-47, dismissing a presentment, including a judgment directed on an appeal from the superior court; or (c) a final Superior Court judgment dismissing a proceeding commenced pursuant to 2-39 through 2-46 or 2-52, including a judgment directed on an appeal from the superior court; and

5. all records of pending grievance complaints in which probable cause has not yet been determined.

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, all non-public records are only available to the SGC or its counsel, the reviewing committees, the grievance panels or their counsel, the standing committee on recommendations for admission to the bar, disciplinary counsel, the client security fund committee or its counsel, a judge of the superior court, a judge of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, any grievance committee or other disciplinary authority of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, or, with the respondent's consent, to any other person. The rules allow these records to be used or considered in any subsequent disciplinary or client security fund proceeding pertaining to the respondent.

Public Records. The rules require before a final decision is issued by the SGC or a reviewing committee, the following records of the SGC be made public:

1. the grievance panel's probable cause determination;

2. any probable cause determination issued by the SGC or a reviewing committee;

3. transcripts of any public hearings held following a determination that probable cause exists; and

4. after either committee has issued a final decision, all records pertaining to grievance complaints that have been filed on or after July 1, 1986, and that have not been dismissed or are not otherwise classified by court rule as non-public.

The rules specify that any respondent who was the subject of a complaint in which the respondent was misidentified and the complaint was dismissed must be deemed to have never been subject to disciplinary proceedings with respect to that complaint and may so swear under oath.

2-51 — Costs and Expenses

Costs may be taxed against the respondent in favor of the state if the respondent is found guilty of the offense charged, at the court's discretion. The court may also, upon any such complaint by the state's attorney or by the SGC, audit and allow reasonable expenses to be taxed as part of the court expenses.

2-52 — Resignation of Attorney

Court rules allow the superior court to permit the resignation of an attorney whose conduct is the subject of investigation by a grievance panel, a reviewing committee, or the SGC, or against whom a presentment for misconduct is pending.

The resignation must be in writing and signed by the attorney. He must file six copies with the clerk of the superior court in the judicial district in which the attorney resides, or if the attorney is not a resident of this state, in the superior court in Hartford. The clerk must immediately send one copy to the grievance panel, one to the statewide bar counsel, one to disciplinary counsel, one to the state's attorney, and one to the standing committee on recommendations for admission to the bar. The resignation does not become effective until accepted by the court after a hearing following a report by the SGC that the investigation has been completed.

2-53 — Reinstatement after Suspension, Disbarment, or Resignation

Application Requirements. A court may not consider an application for reinstatement or readmission unless the applicant states under oath in the application that he has successfully fulfilled all conditions imposed on him as a part of his discipline. But, if an applicant asserts that a certain condition is impossible to fulfill, he may apply, stating that assertion and the basis for it. The applicant has the burden to prove at the hearing on reinstatement or readmission why the condition is impossible to fulfill. The application must contain a statement by the applicant indicating whether he has previously applied for reinstatement or readmission and if so, when.

Standing Committee. The court must refer the application to the standing committee on recommendations for admission to the bar that has jurisdiction over the judicial district court location in which the applicant was suspended or disbarred, or resigned. Notice that the application is pending must be given to the state's attorney of that judicial district, the chair of the grievance panel whose jurisdiction includes that judicial district court location, the SGC, the attorney or attorneys appointed by the court, and all complainants whose complaints against the attorney resulted in the discipline for which the attorney was disbarred, suspended or resigned. It must also be published in the Connecticut Law Journal. The standing committee must investigate the application, hold hearings, and make a report with its recommendations to the court.

Court Action. The court must inform the Supreme Court's chief justice of the pending application and report. The chief justice must designate two other superior court judges to sit with the judge presiding at the session. The three judges, or a majority of them, must determine whether the application should be granted.

The standing committee must notify the presiding judge, within 14 days before the court hearing, if the committee will not be represented by counsel at the hearing. The presiding judge may appoint an attorney to review the issue of reinstatement and report his findings to the court. The attorney must be compensated in accordance with a fee schedule approved by the executive committee.

The applicant must pay to the superior court clerk $200 when he applies. If the petition for readmission or reinstatement is denied, the reasons must be stated on the record or put in writing. The attorney may not reapply for six months following the denial.

Suspended Attorney. An attorney who has been suspended for at least one year must apply for reinstatement in accordance with court rules unless the court that imposed the discipline specifically provided in its order that such application is not required. An attorney who has been suspended for less than one year is not required to file an application for reinstatement, unless otherwise ordered by the court at the time the discipline was imposed.

Disbarred Attorney. An application for reinstatement by an attorney disbarred by the court may not be considered until at least 12 years after the disbarment. Reinstatement may not be granted unless the attorney provides satisfactory evidence that full restitution has been made of all sums found to be knowingly misappropriated.

2-54 — Publication of Notice of Reprimand, Suspension, Disbarment, Resignation, Placement on Inactive Status, or Reinstatement

Court rules require that notice of the final action transferring an attorney to inactive status or reprimanding, suspending, or disbarring him from practice in Connecticut must be published once in the Connecticut Law Journal by the authority accepting or approving such action. Notice of a reprimand by the SGC or by a reviewing committee must not be published until the expiration of any stay. Notice of the resignation or reinstatement after suspension, disbarment, resignation, or placement on inactive status of an attorney must be published once in the Connecticut Law Journal by the authority accepting or approving such action.

2-55 — Retirement of Attorney

Written notice of retirement from the practice of law does not constitute removal from the bar or the roll of attorneys, but it must be noted on the roll of attorneys kept by the clerk in Hartford County who must notify the statewide bar counsel of such retirement. The notice must include the attorney's juris number and be filed in triplicate with such clerk. Upon the filing of such notice, the attorney is no longer eligible to practice law in Connecticut. Retirement may be revoked at any time upon written notice to the Hartford County clerk and the statewide bar counsel. Disciplinary proceedings against an attorney are not stayed or terminated because he retired.

2-56 — Inactive Status of Attorney

During the time an order placing an attorney on inactive status is in effect, he may not practice law. Any hearings concerning the attorney's status may be held in chambers, and records and papers filed in connection with them are open for inspection only to people who have a proper interest in them and upon order of the court. The court must, in exercising discretion, weigh the public policy in favor of open proceedings, as well as the duty to protect the public, against the attorney's right to medical and mental health privacy and ability to pursue a livelihood.

2-57 — Inactive Status of Attorney-Prior Judicial Determination of Incompetency or Involuntary Commitment

The rules allow a court to place an attorney on inactive status if a court of competent jurisdiction (1) declared him incapable of managing his or her affairs or (2) committed him involuntarily to a mental hospital for drug dependency, mental illness, or the addictive, intemperate, or excessive use of alcohol. The court may do so upon notice from a grievance panel, a reviewing committee, the SGC, or a state's attorney and upon proof of incapacity to engage in the practice of law. It must enter an order placing the attorney upon inactive status, effective immediately, for an indefinite period and until further court order.

2-58 — Inactive Status of Attorney — No Prior Determination of Incompetency or Involuntary Commitment

A grievance panel, a reviewing committee, the SGC, or disciplinary counsel that has reason to believe that an attorney is incapacitated from continuing to practice law by reason of mental infirmity or illness, or because of drug dependency or addiction to alcohol, must petition the court to determine whether the attorney is so incapacitated. The rules authorize the court to take or direct whatever action it deems necessary or proper for such determination, including examination of the attorney by a qualified medical expert or experts as the court designates, at the Judicial Branch's expense. If the court concludes that the attorney is incapacitated from continuing to practice law, it must enter an order placing him in an inactive status on the ground of such disability for an indefinite period and until further court order. Any pending disciplinary proceedings against the attorney are held in abeyance.

The court may provide for appropriate notice to the respondent attorney of proceedings. It must appoint an attorney, at the Judicial Branch's expense, to represent any respondent who is without adequate representation.

2-59 — Inactive Status of Attorney — Disability Claimed During Course of Disciplinary Proceeding

If, during the course of a disciplinary proceeding, the respondent contends that he is suffering, by reason of mental infirmity or illness, drug dependency, or addiction to alcohol, from a disability that makes it impossible for him adequately to defend himself, the court must enter an order placing him on inactive status until a determination is made of his capacity to defend himself. Notice must be provided to the Statewide Bar Counsel. If the court determines that the respondent is not incapacitated from practicing law, it must take whatever action it deems proper and advisable, including a direction for the resumption of the disciplinary proceeding against him.

2-60 — Inactive Status of Attorney — Reinstatement Upon Termination of Disability

Any attorney placed upon inactive status has the right to apply for reinstatement, without paying an entry fee, at such intervals as the court may direct. The court must grant the application upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the attorney's disability has been removed and he is fit to resume the practice of law. The court may take or direct such action as it deems necessary or proper, including determining whether the attorney's disability has been removed directing an examination by such qualified medical expert or experts as the court designates. The court must direct that either the attorney or the Judicial Branch pay for the examination.

2-61 — Inactive Status of Attorney — Burden of Proof in Inactive Status Proceedings

In a proceeding seeking an order to place an attorney on inactive status, the burden of proof is on the petitioner. In a proceeding seeking an order terminating inactive status, the burden of proof rests with the inactive attorney.

2-62 — Inactive Status of Attorney-Waiver of Doctor-Patient Privilege Upon Application for Reinstatement

The filing of an application for reinstatement by an attorney on inactive status constitutes a waiver of any doctor-patient privilege existing between the attorney and any psychiatrist, psychologist, physician, or hospital that examined or treated him during the period of disability. The attorney must disclose the name of every psychiatrist, psychologist, physician, and hospital that examined or treated him since being placed on inactive status. Also he must furnish to the court written consent to each to divulge whatever information and records as are requested by court-appointed medical experts or the court clerk requests.

2-64 — Appointment of Attorney to Protect Clients' and Attorney's Interests

Whenever an attorney is placed upon inactive status, suspended, disbarred, or resigns, the court, upon such notice to him as the court may direct, must appoint an attorney or attorneys to inventory his files and take whatever action that seems necessary to protect the interests of the attorney's clients. The court may also appoint an attorney to protect the attorney's interests with respect to such files, when the attorney is not otherwise represented and the court deems that such representation is necessary.

If the discipline imposed is not effective immediately as a result of an appeal or stay, the court, after the hearing and consideration of the merits of the appeal or reason for the stay, may issue interim orders to protect the public during the pendency of the appeal period or stay, until the discipline order becomes effective. In case of an attorney's death, the court may appoint an attorney where no partner, executor, or other responsible party capable of conducting the deceased's attorney's affairs is known to exist or willing to assume the responsibility.

Any attorney the court appoints may not disclose any information contained in any file without the client's consent except as is necessary to carry out the order of the court which appointed the attorney to make the inventory.

At least once each year and whenever the attorney may be returned to active status, reinstated, or readmitted to the practice of law, or when the attorney appointed to protect clients' interests has finished rendering services to those clients, the appointed attorney must file a report with the court, for its examination and approval. The report must show fees earned from the clients of the attorney, necessary disbursements, and the amount requested by the appointed attorney as a fee for services rendered, to be paid out of the funds received. The attorney may also be reimbursed for his services from any amount found to be due to the inactive, suspended, disbarred, resigned, or deceased attorney for services rendered to such clients. All attorney fees paid to any attorney appointed are subject to court approval.

Unless the attorney appointed to protect clients' interests is a partner or associate of the attorney, once the attorney is returned to active status, reinstated, or readmitted, the appointed attorney must immediately stop representing the attorney's clients and must return to him whatever files he received. The appointed attorney and his partners and associates must not represent such clients in the future unless the court orders otherwise after written request to the court by the client whose interest is involved.

STATUTES RELATING TO THE GRIEVANCE PROCESS

51-90 — Statewide Grievance Committee (SGC) — Appointment, Qualifications, and Terms of Members

The law establishes a 15 member Statewide Grievance Committee (SGC) appointed by the judges of the Superior Court. At least four of the members cannot be attorneys-at-law and the remainder of the members must be licensed Connecticut attorneys. The judges must designate one member as chairman and another member as vice-chairman. Members serve for a three-year term. Any vacancy is filled by the executive committee of the superior court, which must appoint an attorney-at-law or nonattorney, depending on the position vacated, for the unexpired portion of the term.

51-90a — Powers and Duties of State-Wide Grievance Committee (SGC)

The SGC has the power and duty to:

1. adopt rules for procedure not inconsistent with the general statutes or rules of court;

2. investigate and present to the court of proper jurisdiction any person deemed in contempt unauthorized practice by law under 51-88; and

3. adopt rules for grievance panels to carry out their duties which are not inconsistent with the general statutes or rules of court.

51-90b — Grievance Panels — Appointment, Qualifications, and Terms of Members

The law directs the judges of the Superior Court to appoint one or more grievance panels in each judicial district. Each panel consists of two attorneys who do not maintain a law office in that judicial district and one nonattorney who resides in the district. They must also designate as an alternate member an attorney who does not maintain a law office in the district.

Members serve a three-year term. Any vacancy must be filled by the executive committee of the Superior Court, which must appoint an attorney-at-law or nonattorney, depending on the position vacated, for the unexpired portion of the term.

An attorney who maintains a law office in the same judicial district as a respondent may not participate as a member of a grievance panel concerning a complaint against him.

51-90c — Statewide Bar Counsel

The law requires the judges of the Superior Court to appoint an attorney to act as statewide bar counsel. He must serve full-time. They must also appoint attorneys to act as assistant bar counsel as necessary, for a term of one year. Any vacancy in the position of statewide bar counsel or assistant bar counsel must be filled by the executive committee of the Superior Court, which must appoint an attorney for the unexpired portion of the term. Compensation of the statewide bar counsel and assistant bar counsel must be established by, and paid from funds appropriated to, the Judicial Branch.

The statewide bar counsel must investigate and prosecute complaints involving the practice of law without a license (see CGS 51-88).

51-90d — Grievance Counsel and Investigator

The law directs the judges of the Superior Court to appoint investigators and attorneys to serve as grievance counsel for grievance panels. The investigators must be under the supervision of the statewide bar counsel and serve the SGC, the reviewing subcommittees of the SGC, and the grievance panels. Grievance counsel and investigators serve for a term of one year. Any vacancy in the position of grievance counsel or investigator must be filled by the executive committee of the Superior Court for the unexpired portion of the term. Compensation of the grievance counsel and investigator is established by, and paid from funds appropriated to, the Judicial Department. Such appointees may be placed on the Judicial Department payroll or paid on a contractual basis.

The law gives grievance counsel the following powers and duties:

1. to investigate all complaints received by a grievance panel from the statewide bar counsel or SGC involving alleged misconduct of an attorney subject to the jurisdiction of the Superior Court;

2. to assist a grievance panel in all matters under its jurisdiction; and

3. to assist a SGC reviewing subcommittee in conducting hearings when the SGC determines it is necessary.

51-90e — Filing of Complaint Alleging Attorney Misconduct and Referral to Grievance Panel

The law allows anyone to file a written complaint alleging attorney misconduct. It also authorizes a grievance panel, on its own motion, to initiate and file a written complaint alleging attorney misconduct. A complaint must be filed with the statewide bar counsel.

Within five working days after receiving a complaint the statewide bar counsel must:

1. forward the complaint to the appropriate grievance panel as determined under court rules; and

2. send the respondent a copy of the complaint and notify the complainant and the respondent, by certified mail, return receipt requested, of the panel to which the complaint was forwarded.

The law gives a respondent 10 days after he receives the notification to respond to the grievance panel to which the complaint has been referred.

The law requires the statewide bar counsel to keep a record of all complaints filed with him. The complainant and the respondent must notify the statewide bar counsel of any change of address or telephone number during the pendency of the proceedings on the complaint.

If for good cause shown, a grievance panel declines, or is unable to investigate a complaint referred to the panel, it must return the complaint to the statewide bar counsel who must immediately refer it to another panel. The counsel must give notice of such referral to the complainant and the respondent by certified mail, return receipt requested.

51-90f — Investigation and Determination by Grievance Panel of Attorney Misconduct

Each grievance panel must investigate, with the assistance of the grievance counsel assigned to it any complaint referred to it by the SGC or statewide bar counsel to determine whether probable cause exists that the attorney is guilty of misconduct.

The investigation and proceedings of the panel must be confidential unless the attorney under investigation requests that they be public. The SGC may disclose that it or the statewide bar counsel has referred a complaint to a panel for investigation when it determines the disclosure is in the public interest.

The panel must complete its investigation and render its determination that probable cause or no probable cause exists within 90 days from the date the complaint was referred to it by the committee or SGC counsel. The panel may file a motion for extension of up to 30 days with the SGC, which may grant the motion only for good cause shown. If the panel does not complete its work within the time provided by law, the SGC must, on the complainant's or the respondent's motion, or on its own motion, inquire into the delay and order that the panel take action on the complaint immediately or that the complaint be referred to and heard by another panel or a reviewing subcommittee the SGC designates.

When it completes its investigation, the panel must notify the complainant and the attorney that its investigation has been completed and the results. The law specifies that the failure of a grievance panel to complete its action on a complaint within the time the law requires does not require the dismissal of the complaint.

The law prohibits a panel from making a probable cause determination based, in full or in part, on a claim of misconduct not alleged in the complaint without first notifying the respondent that it is considering doing so and giving the respondent the opportunity to be heard.

The panel must refer the record of its investigation, together with its determination that probable cause or no probable cause exists, to the committee for appropriate action and any such determination must be public.

51-90g — Review of Panel's Determination by Subcommittee or Statewide Grievance Committee

The SGC may designate at least three members of the committee, including at least one-third who are not attorneys, to serve as a reviewing subcommittee for each determination a panel makes. The committee must regularly rotate membership on reviewing subcommittees and assignments of complaints from the various judicial districts.

The SGC or the subcommittee must hold a hearing concerning the complaint if the panel determined that probable cause exists. If the grievance panel determined that probable cause does not exist, the committee or subcommittee must review the determination of no probable cause and take evidence if it deems it appropriate. If the committee or subcommittee determines that probable cause exists that the attorney is guilty of misconduct, it must take the following action:

1. if the SGC reviewed the determination of the grievance panel, it must hold a hearing concerning the complaint or assign it to a subcommittee to hold the hearing; or

2. if a subcommittee reviewed the determination of the grievance panel, it must hold a hearing concerning the complaint or refer the matter to the SGC which must assign it to another subcommittee to hold the hearing.

The committee or subcommittee may not make a probable cause determination based, in full or in part, on a claim of misconduct not alleged in the complaint without first notifying the respondent that it is considering such action and affording the respondent the opportunity to be heard. An attorney who maintains his law office in the same judicial district as the respondent may not sit on the reviewing subcommittee for that case.

Any hearing the committee or subcommittee holds must be public and on the record. The complainant has the right to be present at all hearings on the complaint and to have counsel present. He also has the right to counsel, to be heard in his own defense, and to present evidence and witnesses in his behalf. At the conclusion of the evidence, the complainant and the respondent must have the opportunity to make a statement either individually or through counsel. The committee or subcommittee may request oral argument.

The subcommittee must conclude any hearing or hearings and must render its proposed decision within 90 days from the date the panel's determination of probable cause or no probable cause was filed with the SGC. The subcommittee may file a motion for an extension of up to 30 days with the SGC, which must grant the motion only for good cause shown. If the subcommittee does not complete its action on a complaint within the required time, the SGC must, on motion of the complainant or the respondent or on its own motion, inquire into the delay and determine the appropriate course of action.

The law specifies that the failure of the subcommittee to complete its action on a complaint within the required time is not a reason to dismiss it.

If the subcommittee finds probable cause to believe the attorney has violated the criminal law of this state, it must report its findings to the SGC.

The law authorizes the subcommittee to propose in its decision that the complaint be dismissed, that conditions be imposed in accordance with the rules established by the judges of the Superior Court, that the attorney be reprimanded, or that the attorney be presented to the Superior Court for reprimand, suspension, or disbarment.

The subcommittee must submit its proposed decision to the SGC, with copies to the complainant and respondent. The proposed decision must be public.

If, after its review of a complaint, a subcommittee agrees with the determination of the grievance panel that probable cause does not exist that the attorney is guilty of misconduct and there has been no finding of probable cause by the SGC or a subcommittee, the subcommittee may dismiss the complaint within the time required by law without review by the committee. The subcommittee must file its decision dismissing the complaint with the SGC, together with the record of the matter, and must send a copy of the decision to the complainant and the respondent. Its decision must be public.

When the committee conducts the hearing or hearings, it must render its decision within four months from the date the panel's determination of probable cause or no probable cause was filed with the SGC. The SGC may dismiss the complaint, impose conditions in accordance with the rules established by the judges of the Superior Court, reprimand the respondent, or direct the statewide bar counsel to file a presentment against the respondent.

51-90h — Decision of SGC

Within 14 days of the issuance to the parties of the proposed decision, the complainant and respondent may submit to the SGC a statement that supports or opposes the proposed decision. The SGC may request oral argument.

Within 60 days after the end of the 14-day period for the filing of statements, the SGC must review the record before the subcommittee and any statements filed with it, and must issue a decision. The decision must either:

1. dismiss the complaint;

2. reprimand the respondent or impose conditions in accordance with the rules established by the judges of the Superior Court; or

3. direct the statewide bar counsel to file a presentment against the respondent, or refer the complaint to the same or a different reviewing subcommittee for further investigation and proposed decision.

The SGC must forward a copy of its decision to the complainant and the respondent. The decision must be public.

If the SGC finds probable cause to believe that the attorney has committed a crime, it must report its findings to the chief state's attorney.

51-91 — Compelling Testimony of Witnesses — Contempt

The law gives the SGC, a subcommittee, or a grievance panel the authority to subpoena (1) people to testify relating to any matter it deems relevant to its inquiry or investigation and (2) any books or papers which, in its judgment, may be relevant to the inquiry or investigation.

51-91c — Posting of Signs Concerning Attorney Grievance Procedures

The law requires the chief court administrator to cause to be prominently displayed in each geographical area court facility and judicial district courthouse a sign setting forth the duties of the Statewide Grievance Committee and the procedure for a person alleging attorney misconduct to file a complaint against an attorney.

51-93 — Reinstatement of Attorneys

The superior court for any judicial district may, upon hearing, after written application and such notice as the court may prescribe, reinstate as an attorney-at-law any person resident in such judicial district who has been suspended or disbarred or who has resigned.

51-94 — Evidence in Proceedings to Suspend, Displace or Remove Attorneys-At-Law

The law requires that in any proceeding for the suspension, disbarment, or removal of an attorney-at-law or to investigate the character, integrity, or professional standing of an attorney, evidence tending to show the general character, reputation, and professional standing of such attorney must be admissible.

51-90, 51-90b, 51-90c, 51-90d — Vacancies

Any vacancy on the grievance committee, grievance panel, statewide bar counsel, assistant bar counsel, grievance counsel, and investigators for the grievance panels must be filled by the executive committee of the superior court, which must appoint an attorney-at-law or nonattorney, depending on the position vacated, for the unexpired portion of the term (CGS 51-90, 51-90b, 51-90c, 51-90d).

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