CHAPTER 876
ATTORNEYS

Table of Contents

Sec. 51-81b. Occupational tax on attorneys. Collection procedure. State lien against real estate as security for tax. Interest on unpaid tax. Attorneys who are not liable for tax. Administration.
Sec. 51-81c. Program for use of interest on lawyers' clients' funds accounts. Applicability to entities that establish certain accounts to receive loan proceeds from a mortgage lender.
Sec. 51-84. Attorneys subject to rules.
Sec. 51-90e. Filing of complaint alleging attorney misconduct. Referral to grievance panel.
Sec. 51-90g. Review of panel's determination by subcommittee or State-Wide Grievance Committee.

      Sec. 51-81b. Occupational tax on attorneys. Collection procedure. State lien against real estate as security for tax. Interest on unpaid tax. Attorneys who are not liable for tax. Administration. (a) Any person who has been admitted as an attorney by the judges of the Superior Court shall annually on or before January fifteenth file an annual return prescribed or furnished by the Commissioner of Revenue Services. If any such person was engaged in the practice of law in the year preceding the year in which an occupational tax is due hereunder, such person, unless exempted under this section, shall annually on or before January fifteenth pay to the Commissioner of Revenue Services a tax in the amount of four hundred fifty dollars. Any person who has been admitted as an attorney pro hac vice by a judge of the Superior, Appellate or Supreme Court in accordance with the rules of said court shall file such return and pay such tax as provided in this subsection with respect to any year in which such person was admitted pro hac vice and engaged in the practice of law in this state.

      (b) Upon failure of any such person to pay the sum due hereunder within thirty days of the due date, the provisions of section 12-35 shall apply with respect to the enforcement of this section and the collection of such sum. The warrant therein provided for shall be signed by the commissioner or his authorized agent. The amount of any such tax, penalty and interest shall be a lien, from the thirty-first day of December next preceding the due date of such tax until discharged by payment, against all real estate of the taxpayer within the state, and a certificate of such lien signed by the commissioner may be filed for record in the office of the clerk of any town in which such real estate is situated, provided no such lien shall be effective as against any bona fide purchaser or qualified encumbrancer of any interest in any such property. When any tax with respect to which a lien has been recorded under the provisions of this section has been satisfied, the commissioner, upon request of any interested party, shall issue a certificate discharging such lien, which certificate shall be recorded in the same office in which the lien was recorded. Any action for the foreclosure of such lien shall be brought by the Attorney General in the name of the state in the superior court for the judicial district in which the property subject to such lien is situated, or, if such property is located in two or more judicial districts, in the superior court for any one such judicial district, and the court may limit the time for redemption or order the sale of such property or make such other or further decree as it judges equitable.

      (c) The Commissioner of Revenue Services shall notify the Chief Court Administrator of the failure of any person to comply with the provisions of this section and the Chief Court Administrator shall notify the judges of the Superior Court of such failure.

      (d) If any person fails to pay the amount of tax reported to be due on such person's return within the time specified under the provisions of this section, there shall be imposed a penalty of fifty dollars, which penalty shall be payable to, and recoverable by, the commissioner in the same manner as the tax imposed under this section. Subject to the provisions of section 12-3a, the commissioner may waive all or part of the penalties provided under this section when it is proven to his satisfaction that the failure to pay any tax was due to reasonable cause and was not intentional or due to neglect.

      (e) If any tax is not paid when due as provided in this section, there shall be added to the amount of the tax interest at the rate of one per cent per month or fraction thereof from the date the tax became due until it is paid.

      (f) If the commissioner is satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that the failure to file a return or to pay the tax was due to reasonable cause and was not intentional or due to neglect, he may abate or remit the whole or any part of any penalty under this section.

      (g) This section shall not apply (1) to any attorney whose name has been removed from the roll of attorneys maintained by the clerk of the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford, or (2) to any attorney who has retired from the practice of law, provided the attorney shall file written notice of retirement with the clerk of the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford, or to any attorney who does not engage in the practice of law as an occupation and receives less than four hundred fifty dollars in legal fees or other compensation for services involving the practice of law during any calendar year, or (3) with respect to the tax due in any calendar year, to any attorney serving on active duty with the armed forces of the United States for more than six months in such year.

      (h) No person shall be liable for payment of the occupational tax under this section solely by virtue of such person having engaged in the practice of law while acting as an employee of the state, any political subdivision of the state or any probate court.

      (i) The provisions of sections 12-548 to 12-554, inclusive, and section 12-555a shall apply to the provisions of this section in the same manner and with the same force and effect as if the language of said sections 12-548 to 12-554, inclusive, and section 12-555a had been incorporated in full into this section and had expressly referred to the tax under this section, except to the extent that any such provision is inconsistent with a provision of this section.

      (1972, P.A. 223, S. 30; P.A. 76-436, S. 10a, 78, 681; P.A. 77-614, S. 139, 610; P.A. 78-280, S. 5, 127; P.A. 82-172, S. 12, 14; 82-248, S. 71; 82-425; 82-472, S. 135, 183; P.A. 84-305, S. 1, 2; P.A. 88-230, S. 1, 12; P.A. 89-150, S. 2, 3; 89-251, S. 187, 203; P.A. 90-98, S. 1, 2; P.A. 91-236, S. 23, 25; P.A. 93-142, S. 4, 7, 8; P.A. 95-26, S. 49, 52; 95-220, S. 4- 6; P.A. 97-243, S. 47, 67; P.A. 00-170, S. 32, 42; P.A. 03-2, S. 42; P.A. 07-46, S. 1.)

      History: P.A. 76-436 deleted obsolete provisions re payments before July 1, 1972, payments on that date and payments on or before January 15, 1973, effective July 1, 1978; P.A. 77-614 replaced tax commissioner with commissioner of revenue services, effective January 1, 1979; P.A. 78-280 replaced "Hartford county" with "judicial district of Hartford-New Britain"; P.A. 82-172 added provisions concerning a lien against real estate related to overdue taxes and the lien foreclosure procedure; P.A. 82-248 made technical revision, rewording some provisions and dividing section into Subsecs. but made no substantive change; P.A. 82-425 eliminated phrase "including the performance of judicial duties" and exempted attorney who does not engage in practice of law as occupation and receives less than $150 during any calendar year; P.A. 82-472 changed the interest charge from 1% to 1.25% per month; P.A. 84-305 added Subsec. (h) re immunity from occupational tax liability for person who would be liable solely by virtue of engaging in the practice of law as an employee of the state, effective May 30, 1984, and applicable with respect to persons engaging in the practice of law in calendar years beginning January 1, 1984, and thereafter; P.A. 88-230 replaced "judicial district of Hartford-New Britain" with "judicial district of Hartford", effective September 1, 1991; P.A. 89-150 amended Subsec. (d) by adding penalty and waiver of penalty provisions conforming with those in effect for other state taxes and applicable to any person failing to pay the tax within the time required; P.A. 89-251 increased the tax and the minimum income to be subject to the tax from $150 to $450; P.A. 90-98 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1991, to September 1, 1993; P.A. 91-236 added Subsec. (i) to include administrative, penalty, hearing and appeal provisions, effective July 1, 1991, and applicable to taxes due on or after that date; P.A. 93-142 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1993, to September 1, 1996, effective June 14, 1993; P.A. 95-26 amended Subsec. (e) to lower interest rate from 1.25% to 1%, removed the reference to penalty and made technical changes, effective July 1, 1995, and applicable to taxes due and owing on or after July 1, 1995, whether or not those taxes first became due before said date; P.A. 95-220 changed the effective date of P.A. 88-230 from September 1, 1996, to September 1, 1998, effective July 1, 1995; P.A. 97-243 amended Subsec. (a) to require filing of return in order to claim exemption, effective June 24, 1997, and applicable to calendar years commencing on or after January 1, 1997; P.A. 00-170 amended Subsec. (h) to exempt from occupational tax liability any person who would be liable solely by virtue of engaging in the practice of law as an employee of any political subdivision of the state or any probate court, effective May 26, 2000, and applicable with respect to attorneys practicing law in this state on or after January 1, 2000; P.A. 03-2 amended Subsec. (a) to require any person admitted as an attorney pro hac vice to file a return and pay the tax with respect to any year in which such person was admitted pro hac vice and engaged in the practice of law in this state, effective February 28, 2003; P.A. 07-46 amended Subsec. (a) to provide that requirement to file a return and pay the tax applies to an attorney admitted pro hac vice "by a judge of the Superior, Appellate or Supreme Court" in accordance with the rules of "said" court.

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      Sec. 51-81c. Program for use of interest on lawyers' clients' funds accounts. Applicability to entities that establish certain accounts to receive loan proceeds from a mortgage lender. (a) A program for the use of interest earned on lawyers' clients' funds accounts is hereby established. The organization administering the program shall use such interest to provide funding for (1) the delivery of legal services to the poor by nonprofit corporations whose principal purpose is providing legal services to the poor and (2) law school scholarships based on financial need. Each lawyer and law firm having a clients' funds account shall participate in the program. On and after July 1, 2005, each entity, other than a borrower, having an account established to receive loan proceeds from a mortgage lender, as defined in this subsection, shall participate in the program. Under the program, funds in accounts established to receive such loan proceeds, regardless of the amount or period held, and clients' funds that are less than ten thousand dollars in amount or expected to be held for a period of not more than sixty business days, shall be deposited by participating lawyers, law firms and entities in interest-bearing accounts specifically established pursuant to the program. Funds deposited in such accounts shall be subject to withdrawal upon request by the depositor and without delay. The interest earned on such accounts shall be paid to an organization qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or any subsequent corresponding internal revenue code of the United States, as from time to time amended, which shall be designated to administer the program by the judges of the Superior Court pursuant to subsection (b) of this section. Nothing in this section shall prevent (A) a lawyer or law firm from depositing a client's funds, regardless of the amount of such funds or the period for which such funds are expected to be held, in a separate interest-bearing account established on behalf of and for the benefit of the client, or (B) an entity from depositing a person's loan proceeds, regardless of the amount of such proceeds or the period for which such proceeds are expected to be held, in a separate interest-bearing account established on behalf of and for the benefit of the person. The organization administering the program shall mail to each lawyer, law firm and entity participating in the program a detailed annual report of all funds disbursed under the program including the amount disbursed to each recipient of funds. Any recipient of funds under the program which, using program funds, represents a party in an action filed after July 1, 1992, against the state or any officer or agency thereof and is awarded attorney's fees in such action by the court, shall reimburse the program for the amount of attorney's fees received in proportion to the percentage of program funds used for the litigation. No recipient of funds under the program may use such funds to pay the occupational tax imposed pursuant to section 51-81b on behalf of any attorney. As used in this section, "mortgage lender" means any person engaged in the business of making first mortgage loans or secondary mortgage loans, including, but not limited to, a bank, out-of-state bank, Connecticut credit union, federal credit union, out-of-state credit union, first mortgage lender required to be licensed under sections 36a-485 to 36a-498a, inclusive, or secondary mortgage lender required to be licensed under sections 36a-510 to 36a-524, inclusive.

      (b) The judges of the Superior Court shall adopt rules to implement the program for the use of interest earned on lawyers' clients' funds accounts, provided nothing in this section shall grant to the judges of the Superior Court or any other judicial authority any legislative, regulatory or rule-making authority over banks, insurance companies or other financial institutions.

      (c) The program shall not require the banking corporations or financial institutions receiving such funds, holding such accounts and paying interest on such accounts to the depositors of the account to perform any additional administrative functions or assume any additional responsibilities or obligations in connection with the program or the accounts so maintained.

      (d) An advisory panel shall be established to perform the functions described in subsection (e) of this section consisting of five members to be selected as follows: Three members shall be appointed by the Governor, one of whom shall be an executive director of a nonprofit corporation which provides legal services to the poor in this state; and two members shall be appointed by the cochairpersons of the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the judiciary. Each member of the panel shall serve for a term which is coterminous with the term of the member's appointing authority. A vacancy shall be filled by the original appointing authority for the balance of the unexpired term.

      (e) The advisory panel shall: (1) Consult with and make recommendations to the tax-exempt organization administering the program regarding the implementation and administration of the program, including the methods of allocation and the allocation of funds to be disbursed under the program; (2) review and evaluate, and monitor the impact of the program; and (3) report on the program to the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the judiciary and to banks and to the Chief Court Administrator, as may from time to time be requested by such committees or administrator.

      (P.A. 84-537, S. 1, 2; P.A. 89-196; 89-211, S. 49; May Sp. Sess. P.A. 92-6, S. 72, 117; P.A. 05-261, S. 1; P.A. 07-91, S. 27.)

      History: P.A. 89-196 amended Subsec. (a) to specify that recipients of funds for the delivery of legal services to the poor are to be nonprofit corporations whose principal purpose is providing legal services to the poor, to authorize the use of such interest to provide funding for law school scholarships based on financial need, to make participation in the program mandatory rather than voluntary, and to add provisions allowing a lawyer or law firm to deposit a client's funds in a separate interest-bearing account established on behalf of and for the benefit of the client and requiring the organization administering the program to mail to each participating lawyer or law firm a detailed annual report re the disbursement of funds, and deleted Subsec. (d) requiring lawyers and law firms to notify their clients in order to participate in the program and the judges of the superior court to adopt rules to assure adequate notice to clients, and relettered former Subsecs. (e) and (f) accordingly; P.A. 89-211 clarified reference to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; May Sp. Sess. P.A. 92-6 amended Subsec. (a) to specify that any recipient of funds under the program who is awarded attorney's fees in actions against the state shall reimburse the program for the amount of the attorney's fees and shall not use program funds to pay the occupational tax; P.A. 05-261 amended Subsec. (a) to provide that each entity, other than a borrower, having an account established to receive loan proceeds from a mortgage lender shall participate in the program regardless of amount or period funds are held, make conforming changes, insert Subpara. designators (A) and (B), and define "mortgage lender", amended Subsec. (b) to reference insurance companies, and made technical changes throughout, effective July 1, 2005; P.A. 07-91 amended Subsec. (e)(3) to require advisory panel to report on program to banks committee and to make technical changes, effective July 1, 2007.

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      Sec. 51-84. Attorneys subject to rules.

      Subsec. (a):

      Court has jurisdiction over allegations of professional misconduct by a practicing attorney even during a period of disbarment. 282 C. 1.


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      Sec. 51-90e. Filing of complaint alleging attorney misconduct. Referral to grievance panel.

      Subsec. (a):

      Court has jurisdiction over allegations of professional misconduct by a practicing attorney even during a period of disbarment. 282 C. 1.


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      Sec. 51-90g. Review of panel's determination by subcommittee or State-Wide Grievance Committee. (a) The State-Wide Grievance Committee 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 made by a panel on a complaint. The committee shall regularly rotate membership on reviewing subcommittees and assignments of complaints from the various judicial districts. The State-Wide Grievance Committee or the subcommittee, if any, shall hold a hearing concerning the complaint if the panel determined that probable cause exists that the attorney is guilty of misconduct. If the grievance panel determined that probable cause does not exist that the attorney is guilty of misconduct, the committee or subcommittee shall review the determination of no probable cause, take evidence if it deems it appropriate and, if it determines that probable cause does exist that the attorney is guilty of misconduct, shall take the following action: (1) If the State-Wide Grievance Committee reviewed the determination of the grievance panel it shall hold a hearing concerning the complaint or assign the matter to a subcommittee to hold the hearing; or (2) if a subcommittee reviewed the determination of the grievance panel it shall hold a hearing concerning the complaint or refer the matter to the State-Wide Grievance Committee which shall assign it to another subcommittee to hold the hearing. The committee or subcommittee shall 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 office for the practice of law in the same judicial district as the respondent may not sit on the reviewing subcommittee for that case.

      (b) Any hearing held by the committee or subcommittee shall be public and on the record. The complainant shall be entitled to be present at all hearings on the complaint and to have counsel present. At such hearing the respondent shall have 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 shall have the opportunity to make a statement either individually or through counsel. The committee or subcommittee may request oral argument.

      (c) The subcommittee shall conclude any hearing or hearings and shall render its proposed decision not later than ninety days from the date the panel's determination of probable cause or no probable cause was filed with the State-Wide Grievance Committee. The subcommittee may file a motion for extension of time not to exceed thirty days with the State-Wide Grievance Committee which shall grant the motion only for good cause shown. If the subcommittee does not complete its action on a complaint within the period of time provided in this section, the State-Wide Grievance Committee shall, 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 failure of the subcommittee to complete its action on a complaint within the period of time provided in this section shall not be cause for dismissal of the complaint.

      (d) If the subcommittee finds probable cause to believe the attorney has violated the criminal law of this state it shall report its findings to the State-Wide Grievance Committee.

      (e) The subcommittee may 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.

      (f) The subcommittee shall submit its proposed decision to the State-Wide Grievance Committee, with copies to the complainant and respondent. The proposed decision shall be a matter of public record.

      (g) If, after its review of a complaint pursuant to this section, 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 State-Wide Grievance Committee or a subcommittee, the subcommittee may dismiss the complaint within the time period set forth in subsection (c) of this section without review by the committee. The subcommittee shall file its decision dismissing the complaint with the State-Wide Grievance Committee, together with the record of the matter, and shall send a copy of the decision to the complainant and the respondent. Such decision shall be a matter of public record.

      (h) When the committee conducts the hearing or hearings under this section, it shall render its decision not later than four months from the date the panel's determination of probable cause or no probable cause was filed with the State-Wide Grievance Committee. The State-Wide Grievance Committee 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 State-Wide Bar Counsel to file a presentment against the respondent.

      (P.A. 85-456, S. 6, 11; P.A. 86-276, S. 8, 15; P.A. 88-152, S. 6; P.A. 93-370, S. 2; P.A. 98-81, S. 18, 20; P.A. 07-217, S. 188.)

      History: P.A. 85-456 effective July 1, 1986; P.A. 86-276 substantially revised or replaced prior provisions re the review by the state-wide grievance committee of the findings and recommendations of the panel, the holding of public or private hearings and the rendering within four months of a decision by the committee with provisions re the authority of the committee to designate subcommittees, the review by the committee or subcommittee of the panel's determination, the requirement that any hearing be public and on the record, hearing procedures, the rendering of a proposed decision by a subcommittee within 90 days or a decision of the committee within four months; P.A. 88-152 amended Subsec. (c) to provide that the failure of the subcommittee to complete its action on a complaint within the specified time period shall not be cause for dismissal of the complaint; P.A. 93-370 added Subsec. (a) (1) and (2) to specify the action to be taken by the committee and subcommittee, respectively, when it has reviewed the panel's determination of no probable cause and determines that probable cause does exist, amended Subsec. (e) to authorize the subcommittee to propose in its decision that conditions be imposed in accordance with the rules established by the judges of the superior court, inserted a new Subsec. (g) authorizing the subcommittee to dismiss the complaint in certain circumstances, and relettered the remaining subsection accordingly, and amended Subsec. (h) to authorize the state-wide grievance committee to impose conditions in accordance with the rules established by the judges of the superior court; P.A. 98-81 amended Subsec. (a) by prohibiting committee or subcommittee from making probable cause determination based on claim of misconduct not alleged in complaint without notifying respondent and affording respondent opportunity to be heard, effective May 22, 1998; P.A. 07-217 made a technical change in Subsec. (g), effective July 12, 2007.

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