Sunday, June 1, 2008
The California Bar Journal reports a proposal to provide web access to disciplinary charges. The post notes that such information is public, but is hard to find and can only be obtained at a charge of 50 cents a page or by coming to the offices of disciplinary counsel. Under the proposal, if the charges are not proven, the link will be deleted.
I applaud this proposal. Nationally, it is far too difficult to find public record information concerning pending charges against lawyers. Online access is the only workable solution to the problem. Illinois is, to my knowledge, the only jurisdiction that at present promptly posts charges of ethical misconduct against lawyers in an easy to find manner. Every jurisdiction should follow suit. Every bar regulatory regime pays lip service to public protection as its reason to exist. Online access would show that the authorities don't just talk the talk.
If you were a prospective client (or a lawyer referring business to another lawyer), you would want to know if the bar had initiated formal proceedings against a lawyer you were considering retaining or recommending. At least I would. (Mike Frisch)