Friday, February 17, 2012

A Record In Ohio (That's Bad, Not Good)

From the web page of the Ohio Supreme Court:

A record 126 new cases and other matters were filed with or referred to the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline in 2011, an annual report released today shows.

The board conducts evidentiary hearings and issues findings and recommendations to the Supreme Court on serious ethical misconduct complaints lodged against Ohio attorneys and judges.

“There were 115 formal complaints certified to the board, two of which involved allegations of judicial misconduct and judicial campaign conduct complaints, for a total of 117 new cases presented to the board,” according to the report.

“In addition, the Supreme Court directed the board to review seven petitions from lawyers who were seeking reinstatement to the practice of law following indefinite suspensions, and the board received two petitions from lawyers seeking reinstatement following mental illness suspensions.”

Rick Dove, secretary to the board, also pointed to the retirements of two long-time staff members as another significant event in 2011. Dove replaced longtime secretary, Jonathan W. Marshall, and Michelle Hall replaced Ruth Bope Dangel as counsel to the board. Marshall and Dangel each served at least 20 years with the board.

Even with the significant leadership transition, Dove said the board executed the responsibilities delegated by the Supreme Court and continued its education/outreach activities to enhance compliance with and understanding of professional conduct standards applicable to the bench and bar.

The board is composed of 28 members, appointed by the Supreme Court. Four are public members, seven are active or retired judges and 17 are lawyers throughout the state.

View the report to learn more about these milestones and others that occurred in 2011.

The report focuses more on the component parts of the disciplinary system than the details of the cases. I'd like to see the numbers broken down into the nature of the misconduct, the practice setting, and things of that nature. I do like the fact that this report provides some detail about the bar discipline budget.

Every disciplinary system should have a publicly-available annual report. If lawyers wish to retain the privilege of self-regulation, the report should be sufficently detailed so as to demonstrate that discipline is imposed with the public interest in mind rather that the parochial, self-interested concerns of the organized bar.

My Bar (the District of Columbia) does not make this information readily available. Indeed, the general lack of transparency of the D.C. Bar is a subject worthy of a separate post. (Mike Frisch)

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