Washington, D.C.'s "top lawyer cop." Appointed by the D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility, Disciplinary Counsel serves as the chief prosecutor for attorney disciplinary matters involving active or inactive attorneys who are members of the D.C. Bar. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel investigates all complaints and allegations of ethical misconduct and initiates appropriate resolutions, ranging from diversions, dismissals, and informal admonitions, to the preparation of formal charges.
|Those who serve on D.C. Bar Hearing Committees also participate in overseeing Disciplinary Counsel's initial investigation and may help to facilitate an early resolution of grievance cases. Appointed by the Board's Executive Attorney at the outset of an investigation, this "Contact Member" has the power and duty to review and approve or suggest modifications of recommendations by Disciplinary Counsel for dismissals, informal admonitions, the institution of formal charges, and the deferral or abatement of disciplinary investigations pending the outcome of related criminal or civil litigation.
|Composed of two attorneys and a layperson, a Hearing Committee is formed once Disciplinary Counsel files a petition to institute formal disciplinary proceedings. After conducting an evidentiary hearing, the Committee has 120 days to file a report of factual findings and recommendations to the Board on Professional Responsibility.
|Board on Professional Responsibility
|Appointed by the Court of Appeals, this nine-member board oversees the D.C. Bar's attorney grievance process. Composed of seven attorneys and two laypersons, the Board meets twice a month for 11 months of the year, reviewing the recommendations of its Hearing Committees, and cases referred by the Court of Appeals, including criminal conviction referrals, reciprocal discipline matters, petitions for negotiated discipline and petitions for reinstatement. The Board also considers petitions for emergency temporary suspension of attorneys. If a party objects to a Hearing Committee recommendation, all nine members of the Board will hear oral argument. The Board also has the authority to issue final disciplinary orders dismissing complaints, orders directing Disciplinary Counsel to issue letters of informal admonition, and orders imposing private reprimands.
|D.C. Court of Appeals
|The final authority over attorney disciplinary matters, the Court of Appeals is the ultimate arbiter of attorney discipline in Washington, D.C. Although it gives great deference to the findings and recommendations of the Board on Professional Responsibility, this Court is the last word in determining the fate of D.C. Bar members.