n the last quarter of 2022, the NC State Bar considered 292 lawyer grievances.
Most of those files (257) were dismissed. Five lawyers were given reprimands, seven received admonitions, five received letters of warning, and one was censured. Two matters were continued. Four lawyers were referred to the Trust Accounting Compliance Program. Eight lawyers were referred to the Disciplinary Hearing Commission for trial.
Below are 8 things you should know about the N.C. State Bar Grievance process.
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8 Things to Know About NC State Bar Grievances
The following is from the NC State Bar website:
Where do I find the rules governing procedures of the State Bar's Grievance Committee and of the Disciplinary Hearing Commission?
See 27 NCAC 1B, Section .0100.
Where do I find the rules governing the procedures of local grievance committees?
See 27 NCAC 1B, Section .0200.
If I get a letter of notice that a grievance has been filed against me, can I get more time to respond?
You can usually get more time to respond. To request additional time, call the North Carolina State Bar at (919) 828-4620 and ask to speak to the staff attorney assigned to your grievance. The staff attorney assigned to your grievance is identified in the last paragraph of the letter of notice in boldface type.
I just received notice that a grievance has been filed against me with the State Bar. Who can I talk to about the complaint?
If you have a question about a complaint that has been filed against you, call the State Bar at (919) 828-4620 and ask to speak to the staff attorney assigned to the complaint.
If I get a letter of notice of a grievance, does it mean that the State Bar believes everything that the complainant said about me?
No. A letter of notice notifies the respondent lawyer that a grievance has been filed, summarizes the allegations of the grievance, and requires the lawyer to respond. A letter of notice is not an accusation by the State Bar against you. However, you must respond timely to the letter of notice. Failure to respond timely may be an independent basis for discipline. See 27 NCAC 1B, Rule .0112(c).
Do I need a lawyer to prepare my response to a grievance?
That is a decision you must make. In deciding whether you need the assistance of counsel, you should consider the complexity and seriousness of the allegations. The staff attorney assigned to your grievance can provide the names of lawyers who regularly handle cases before the Grievance Committee and the Disciplinary Hearing Commission.
As a part of my defense against a grievance, may I testify before the Grievance Committee?
No. Proceedings of the Grievance Committee are closed to the public. The committee decides all cases upon written submissions and does not take testimony. However, the Grievance Committee can subpoena a lawyer whose written response was inadequate to provide a full response at a quarterly Grievance Committee meeting.
How long will it take the Grievance Committee to rule on a grievance?
The time it takes the Grievance Committee to rule on a grievance depends upon the complexity of the case. Cases in which the Office of Counsel recommends action other than dismissal are decided by the full Grievance Committee at quarterly meetings in January, April, July, and October. Grievances in which the Office of Counsel recommends dismissal because there is not sufficient evidence to prove a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct are considered throughout the quarter by the chairman and, in some cases, another committee member.
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