DC Bar Disciplinary Rules

(a) Definition. As used in this section,

(1) "state" shall mean any state, territory, or possession of the United States.
(2) "disciplining court" shall mean (a) any court of the United States as defined in Title 28, Section 451 of the United States Code;(b) the highest court of any state;and (c) any other agency, commission, or tribunal, however denominated, that is authorized to impose discipline effective throughout a state.

(b) Notification. It shall be the duty of Disciplinary Counsel to obtain copies of all orders of discipline from other disciplining courts. Upon learning that an attorney subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of this Court has been disciplined by another disciplining court, Disciplinary Counsel shall obtain a certified copy of the disciplinary order and file it with this Court. In addition, any attorney subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of this Court, upon being subjected to professional disciplinary action by another disciplining court, shall promptly inform Disciplinary Counsel of such action in writing.
(c) Standards for reciprocal discipline. Reciprocal discipline may be imposed whenever an attorney has been disbarred, suspended, or placed on probation by another disciplining court. It shall not be imposed for sanctions by a disciplining court such as public censure or reprimand that do not include suspension or probation. For sanctions by another disciplining court that do not include suspension or probation, the Court shall order publication of the fact of that discipline by appropriate means in this jurisdiction. Reciprocal discipline shall be imposed unless the attorney demonstrates to the Court, by clear and convincing evidence, that:

(1) The procedure elsewhere was so lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process; or
(2) There was such infirmity of proof establishing the misconduct as to give rise to the clear conviction that the Court could not, consistently with its duty, accept as final the conclusion on that subject; or
(3) The imposition of the same discipline by the Court would result in grave injustice; or
(4) The misconduct established warrants substantially different discipline in the District of Columbia; or
(5) The misconduct elsewhere does not constitute misconduct in the District of Columbia. Unless there is a finding by the Court under (1), (2), or (5) of this subsection, a final determination by another disciplining court that an attorney has been guilty of professional misconduct shall conclusively establish the misconduct for the purpose of a reciprocal disciplinary proceeding in this Court.

(d) Temporary suspension and show cause order.
Upon receipt of a certified copy of an order demonstrating that an attorney subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of this Court has been suspended or disbarred by another disciplining court, the Court shall forthwith enter an order (1) suspending the attorney from the practice of law in the District of Columbia pending final disposition of any reciprocal disciplinary proceeding, and (2) directing the attorney to show cause within thirty days why identical reciprocal discipline should not be imposed. Disciplinary Counsel shall reply to the attorney's response to the show cause order no later than fifteen days after service of the response. Alternatively, no later than fifteen days after the attorney's response was due, Disciplinary Counsel may object to the imposition of reciprocal discipline based upon the factors set forth in subsection (c) of this section. In either case, Disciplinary Counsel shall provide the Court with the relevant portions of the record of the proceeding in the other disciplining court, the statute and the rules that governed it, and a short statement identifying all of the issues that the matter presents.

If Disciplinary Counsel opposes the imposition of identical discipline, Disciplinary Counsel shall

(1) recommend appropriate non-identical discipline or
(2) request that the matter be referred to the Board for its recommendation as to discipline. The attorney may reply within ten days after service of Disciplinary Counsel's submission.

(e) Action by the Court.
Upon receipt of the attorney's response to the show cause order, if any, and of any submission by Disciplinary Counsel, the Court may refer the matter to the Board for its consideration and recommendation. If the Court decides that a referral to the Board is unnecessary, it shall impose identical discipline unless the attorney demonstrates by clear and convincing evidence, or the Court finds on the face of the record, that one or more of the grounds set forth in subsection (c) of this section exists.

If the Court determines that identical discipline should not be imposed, it may impose such discipline as it deems appropriate. In deciding what non-identical discipline to impose, the Court shall accept the facts found by the disciplining court unless it has made a finding under (1), (2), or (5) of subsection (c) of this section. If the Court has made a finding under one of these subsections, it shall direct Disciplinary Counsel to institute such proceedings as may be appropriate, including an original disciplinary proceeding. In the absence of such a finding, the Court shall impose final discipline.
(f) Effect of stay of discipline by disciplining court. If the discipline imposed by another disciplining court is stayed, any reciprocal discipline imposed by this Court shall be deferred until the stay expires.

Attorney Grievance defense attorney specializes in defending lawyers in disciplinary proceedings before the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission and the D.C. Bar's Board on Professional Responsibility involving professional misconduct, legal ethics, disbarment, suspensions of law licenses, petitions for disciplinary action, reprimands and sanctions for unethical conduct. If you receive a letter from Bar Counsel Lydia Lawless, Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox, or from any attorney disciplinary board in Maryland or the District of Columbia, retain experienced attorneys with expertise in lawyer discipline and breach of ethics cases to avoid sanctions for professional misconduct. We help lawyers avoid disbarment, suspension, reprimands, censure and informal admonitions by drafting responses to client grievances and ethical complaints; representing lawyers in peer reviews, evidentiary hearings, and oral arguments before the BPR and the Court of Appeals; filing petitions to reinstate an attorney's license to practice law; conducting law firm ethical compliance audits; and drafting legal ethics opinions to protect lawyers from ethics charges. In many cases, disciplinary proceedings may be dismissed, dismissed with a warning, or result in a conditional diversion agreement with Bar Counsel to rectify misconduct. Lawyers may need help in managing their law firm attorney escrow IOLTA trust account and complying with attorney trust accounting rules to avoid charges of ethical misconduct. Do not represent yourself in responding to an attorney grievance, law firm client complaint, or other allegation of ethical impropriety. Attorney grievance defense counsel may help you comply with legal ethics rules, avoid sanctions like suspension or disbarment, and avoid future attorney grievances.


By The Lawyer's Lawyers | Kramer & Connolly and Irwin R. Kramer who are responsible for the content of this informational website.   This website is designed for lawyers faced with attorney grievances. As cases do differ, past performance does not guarantee future results.