Tuesday, May 12, 2015
A former colleague brought to my attention this footnote in a 2005 District of Columbia Court of Appeals opinion that had rejected an attorney's claims based on a three-year delay in the filing of the hearing committee report
Although we are satisfied that the Committee’s delay in issuing its report in this case did not result in a biased recommendation to the Board, we are nonetheless troubled by the length of time it took the Committee to complete its work in this case. We can foresee circumstances where such a long delay could result in the preparation of an inaccurate record and thus prejudice an attorney’s ability to defend him or herself against allegations of unethical conduct. While we are not unmindful that our disciplinary system relies on volunteers, especially at the Hearing Committee level, and that with any volunteer system some minimal delay can be expected, we trust that the Board is instituting appropriate measures to monitor and assist Committee members in the exercise of their responsibilities so as to minimize the possibility of such a significant delay occurring in the future.
And the problem of delay is not confined to the hearing committees.
If the D.C. disciplinary system ever conducts a real study of systemic delay, the results would cost some people their jobs.
I guess that is why no public report on disciplinary activities will ever see the light of day in the District of Columbia.
The court's professed "trust " in its disciplinary system can only be described as misplaced wishful thinking.
I favor Trust, but verify. (Mike Frisch)