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TCL > May 1998 Issue > Attorney Regulation System: Proposed Rules

The Colorado Lawyer
May 1998
Vol. 27, No. 5 [Page  103]

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From the Courts
Court Business

Attorney Regulation System: Proposed Rules

Public Hearing, 2:00 p.m., June 15, 1998


Attorney Regulation System:

 

Proposed Rules 241.1 through 241.17
Proposed Rules 241.18 through 241.26
Proposed Rules 241.27 through 241.34
Proposed Rules 242.1 through 242.16 and 1.15


The Colorado Supreme Court has been in the process since the spring of 1997 of reviewing possible changes to the attorney discipline system. That review now culminates in the proposed Rules that are published below. The Court disseminated an overview of these changes in January of this year [see also "1997 Report of the Colorado Attorney Regulation System Planning Committee," 27 The Colorado Lawyer 23 (Feb. 1998)], and held a public hearing on February 23.

The proposed Rules that follow would implement the changes, with certain revisions adopted by the Court in response to the concerns voiced at the public hearing or in comments received by the Court.

In summary, the proposed Rules would reorganize the attorney discipline system to include a Central Intake office that would process incoming complaints and dispose of them, or refer the attorney to a diversion program, or refer the matter for investigation. The diversion program would be available only for matters that would presumptively warrant a public censure or less severe discipline.

If the matter moves to a contested hearing, the hearing board would include a presiding disciplinary judge and two volunteer members. The hearing board would have the authority to enter final findings of fact and sanctions; however, either party would have the right of appeal to an appellate discipline commission composed entirely of volunteer attorneys and non-attorneys. Further, either party would have the right to seek an additional appeal to the Supreme Court of any suspension or disbarment order. Policy issues within the new system would be handled by an advisory committee, empowered to make recommendations to the Court.

Additionally, the changes include a Client Protection Fund designed to mitigate some of the economic losses suffered by clients due to the dishonest conduct of their attorneys.

The Court envisions that the changes will streamline the system, making it more fair and efficient for attorneys and complainants alike, while still preserving significant opportunity for peer review.

The following Rules have been approved for publication by the Colorado Supreme Court and are submitted by the Court for comment by the bar and public.

The Court will hold a public hearing on June 15, 1998, at 2:00 p.m., to receive comments from any interested persons before approval of the Rules. Written comments (an original and eight copies) should be provided by June 8, 1998. Submit requests to speak at the public hearing and any written comments to Mac Danford, Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court of Colorado, 2 E. 14th Ave., Denver, CO 80203, by June 8, 1998. The Court welcomes your input on these proposed Rules.


Proposed Changes to Colorado Rules of Procedure
Regarding Attorney Discipline and Disability Proceedings

RULE 241.1. DISCIPLINE AND DISABILITY:
POLICY - JURISDICTION

(a) Statement of Policy. All members of the Bar of Colorado, having taken an oath to support the Constitution and laws of this state and of the United States, are charged with obedience to those laws at all times. As officers of the Supreme Court of Colorado, attorneys must observe the highest standards of professional conduct. A license to practice law is a proclamation by this Court that its holder is a person to whom members of the public may entrust their legal affairs with confidence; that the attorney will be true to that trust; that the attorney will hold inviolate the confidences of clients; and that the attorney will competently fulfill the responsibilities owed to clients and to the courts.

In order to maintain the highest standards of professional conduct, attorneys who have demonstrated that they are unable, or are likely to be unable, to discharge their professional responsibilities shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary or disability proceedings.

(b) Jurisdiction. Every attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Colorado is subject to the disciplinary and disability jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in all matters relating to the practice of law. Every attorney specially admitted to practice law in this state pursuant to C.R.C.P. 221 or C.R.C.P. 221.1 is subject to the disciplinary and disability jurisdiction of the Supreme Court for conduct related to that proceeding.

(c) Standards of Conduct. Any reference contained in these Rules to the Code of Professional Responsibility pertains to conduct occurring prior to January 1, 1993. On January 1, 1993, and thereafter, the conduct of attorneys licensed to practice law in the State of Colorado shall be governed by the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct and the other Rules or Standards of Professional Conduct adopted from time to time by this Court.

(d) Plenary Power of the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reserves the authority to review any determination made in the course of a disciplinary proceeding and to enter any order with respect thereto, including an order directing that further proceedings be conducted as provided by these Rules.

RULE 241.2. ATTORNEY REGULATION COMMITTEE

(a) Attorney Regulation Committee. The Attorney Regulation Committee of the Supreme Court of Colorado (hereinafter committee) is hereby established. The committee shall serve as a permanent committee of the Supreme Court.

(1) Members. The committee shall be composed of nine members, six of whom shall be members of the Bar of Colorado and three of whom shall be public members.

The Supreme Court, with the assistance of the advisory committee, shall appoint the members of the committee to serve terms of two years. The terms of the members of the committee shall be staggered to provide, so far as possible, for the expiration each year of the terms of an equal number of committee members. Members of the committee shall be eligible to serve no more than three consecutive terms.

The members of the committee shall serve at the pleasure of the Supreme Court and may be dismissed from the committee at any time by order of the Supreme Court. A member of the committee may resign at any time.

(2) Vacancy. In the event of a vacancy on the committee, the Supreme Court shall appoint a successor to serve the remainder of the unexpired term.

(3) Chair and Vice-Chair. The members of the committee shall elect from among themselves one Chair, who shall appoint one Vice-Chair. The Chair shall exercise overall supervisory control of the committee. The Vice-Chair shall assist the Chair and shall serve as Chair in the Chair's absence.

(4) Reimbursement of Committee Members. The members of the committee shall be entitled to reimbursement for reasonable travel, lodging, and other expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties.

(b) Powers and Duties of the Committee. The committee shall be authorized and empowered to act in accordance with these Rules and to:

(1) Enlist the assistance of members of the Bar to conduct investigations, or assist with investigations;

(2) Periodically report to the advisory committee and the management committee on the operation of the committee;

(3) Recommend to the advisory committee proposed changes or additions to the rules of procedure for attorney discipline and disability proceedings; and

(4) Adopt such practices as may from time to time become necessary to govern the internal operation of the committee, as approved by the Supreme Court.

(c) Abstention of Committee Members. Committee members shall refrain from taking part in any proceedings in which a judge, similarly situated, would be required to abstain. No partner or associate in the law firm of a member of the committee, or any attorney in any way affiliated with a committee member or the member's law firm, may accept or continue in employment connected with any matter pending before the committee, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, a Hearing Board, or the Appellate Discipline Commission as long as the member is serving on the committee.

(d) Disqualification. A former member of the committee shall not represent an attorney in any proceeding as provided in these Rules for a period of one year following the completion of the member's term of service on the committee.

RULE 241.3. ATTORNEY REGULATION COUNSEL

(a) Attorney Regulation Counsel. The Supreme Court shall appoint a Regulation Counsel. The Regulation Counsel shall serve at the pleasure of the Supreme Court.

(b) Qualifications. The Regulation Counsel shall be a attorney, duly admitted to the Bar of Colorado, with no less than five years experience in the practice of law. The Regulation Counsel, while serving in that capacity, shall not hold any other public office or engage in the private practice of law.

(c) Powers and Duties. The Regulation Counsel shall act in accordance with these Rules and:

(1) Maintain and supervise a permanent office to serve as a central office for: a) the filing of requests for investigation and for the coordination of such investigations; b) the filing of claims with the Colorado Attorneys' Fund for Client Protection as provided in C.R.C.P. 242 and the consideration of such claims; c) the administration of all disciplinary and disability enforcement proceedings carried on pursuant to these Rules; and, d) the administration of all proceedings conducted pursuant to C.R.C.P. 242, et seq., under a budget approved by the Supreme Court;

(2) Appoint and supervise a staff as necessary to carry out the duties of the Regulation Counsel;

(3) Conduct investigations as provided by C.R.C.P. 241.9 and C.R.C.P. 241.10, dismiss the allegations as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.11, and report to the committee as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.12;

(4) Prepare and prosecute disciplinary and disability actions against attorneys as provided by these Rules;

(5) In appropriate cases, negotiate dispositions of pending matters as authorized in C.R.C.P. 241.10(b)(4) and C.R.C.P. 241.22;

(6) Prepare and prosecute petitions for immediate suspension in conformity with C.R.C.P. 241.8;

(7) Prosecute contempt proceedings for violations of these Rules;

(8) Prosecute contempt proceedings for violations of orders of the Supreme Court relating to suspended and disbarred attorneys and attorneys placed on disability inactive status;

(9) Participate in and present recommendations reflecting the public interest in all proceedings for reinstatement held pursuant to C.R.C.P. 241.29 and C.R.C.P. 241.30;

(10) Maintain permanent records of matters processed by the committee, and the disposition thereof;

(11) Participate in the management and supervision of the bar mediation process established by the Supreme Court, implemented by the Colorado Bar Association, and administered by the mediation committee of the association in conjunction with the committee.

Mediators shall be appointed by the Supreme Court. The mediation committee and the Regulation Counsel shall jointly recommend attorneys to the Court for appointment as mediators. The Regulation Counsel shall forward the names of those recommended to the Court together with a proposed order making the appointment of the mediators; and

(12) Perform such other duties as the Supreme Court may direct.

(d) Disqualification. A former member of the Regulation Counsel's staff shall not represent an attorney in any proceeding that was being investigated and/or prosecuted during the member's association with the Regulation Counsel's staff.

RULE 241.4. DUTY OF JUDGE TO REPORT
MISCONDUCT OR DISABILITY

It is the duty of all judges in every court of record of this state to report to the Regulation Counsel, in any manner deemed appropriate, any act or failure to act which in the opinion of the reporting judge constitutes reasonable cause for the commencement of disciplinary or disability proceedings against an attorney. No action taken by any judge pursuant to the terms of this Rule shall in any way limit the power of the reporting judge to exercise the power of contempt against an attorney, nor should the reporting of such matters to the Regulation Counsel be used in lieu of contempt proceedings.

RULE 241.5. GROUNDS FOR DISCIPLINE

Misconduct by an attorney, individually or in concert with others, including the following acts or omissions, shall constitute grounds for discipline, whether or not the act or omission occurred in the course of an attorney-client relationship:

(a) Any act or omission which violates the provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility or the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct;

(b) Any act or omission which violates accepted rules or standards of legal ethics;

(c) Any act or omission which violates the highest standards of honesty, justice, or morality;

(d) Any act or omission which constitutes gross negligence, if committed by an attorney in the attorney's capacity as an attorney;

(e) Any act or omission which violates the criminal laws of this state or any other state, or of the United States; provided that conviction thereof in a criminal proceeding shall not be a prerequisite to the institution of disciplinary proceedings, and provided further that acquittal in a criminal proceeding shall not necessarily bar disciplinary action;

(f) Any act or omission which violates these Rules or which violates an order of discipline or disability; or

(g) Failure to respond without good cause shown to a request by the committee, the Regulation Counsel, or the Board of Trustees of the Colorado Attorneys' Fund for Client Protection without good cause shown or obstruction of the committee, the Regulation Counsel, or the Board or any part thereof in the performance of their duties. Good cause includes, but is not limited to, an assertion that a response would violate the respondent's constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.

This enumeration of acts and omissions constituting grounds for discipline is not exclusive, and other acts or omissions amounting to unprofessional conduct may constitute grounds for discipline.

RULE 241.6. FORMS OF DISCIPLINE

Any of the following forms of discipline may be imposed in those cases where grounds for discipline have been established:

(a) Disbarment. Disbarment is the revocation of an attorney's license to practice law in this state, subject to readmission as provided by C.R.C.P. 241.29(a). Disbarment shall be for at least eight years;

(b) Suspension. Suspension is the temporary suspension of an attorney's license to practice law in this state, subject to reinstatement as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.29(b). Suspension, which may be stayed in whole or in part, shall be for a definite period of time not to exceed three years;

(c) Public Censure. Public censure is a reproach published with other grievance decisions and made available to the public; and

(d) Private Admonition. Private admonition is an unpublished reproach. An attorney who has been admonished by the committee and who wishes to challenge the order of admonition may, by written petition filed with the Regulation Counsel within twenty days after the date the letter of admonition was mailed to the admonished attorney or personally read to the attorney, demand as a matter of right that imposition of the admonition be vacated, that a complaint be filed against the attorney, and that disciplinary proceedings continue in the manner prescribed by these Rules.

RULE 241.7. PROBATION

(a) Eligibility. When an attorney has demonstrated that the attorney:

(1) Is unlikely to harm the public during the period of probation and can be adequately supervised;

(2) Is able to perform legal services and is able to practice law without causing the courts or profession to fall into disrepute; and,

(3) Has not committed acts warranting disbarment, then the attorney may be placed on probation. Probation shall be imposed for a specified period of time in conjunction with a suspension which may be stayed in whole or in part. Such an order shall be regarded as an order of discipline. The period of probation shall not exceed five years unless an extension is granted upon motion by either party. A motion for an extension must be filed prior to the conclusion of the period originally specified.

(b) Conditions. The order placing an attorney on probation shall specify the conditions of probation. The conditions shall take into consideration the nature and circumstances of the attorney's misconduct and the history, character, and health status of the attorney and shall include no further violations of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct. The conditions may include but are not limited to the following:

(1) Making periodic reports to the Regulation Counsel or to the Colorado Lawyers' Health Program as provided in subsection (d) of this Rule;

(2) Monitoring the attorney's practice or accounting procedures;

(3) Establishing a relationship with an attorney-mentor, and regular reporting with respect to the development of that relationship;

(4) Satisfactory completion of a course of study;

(5) Successful completion of the multi-state professional responsibility examination;

(6) Refund or restitution;

(7) Medical evaluation or treatment;

(8) Mental health evaluation or treatment;

(9) Evaluation or treatment in a program that specializes in treating disorders related to sexual misconduct;

(10) Substance abuse evaluation or treatment;

(11) Abstinence from alcohol and drugs; and

(12) No further violations of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct.

(c) Costs. The attorney shall also be responsible for all costs of evaluation, treatment and supervision. Failure to pay these costs prior to termination of probation shall constitute a violation of probation.

(d) Monitoring. The Regulation Counsel shall monitor the attorney's compliance with the conditions of probation imposed by the Court. When appropriate, the Regulation Counsel may delegate its monitoring role to the Colorado Lawyers' Health Program. In cases in which the Colorado Lawyers' Health Program is the designated monitor, regular reports regarding the progress of the lawyer shall be submitted by the Colorado Lawyers' Health Program to the Regulation Counsel.

(e) Violations. If, during the period the attorney is on probation, the Regulation Counsel receives information that any condition may have been violated, the Regulation Counsel may file a motion with the Presiding Disciplinary Judge specifying the violation and seeking an order requiring the attorney to show cause why the stay should not be lifted and the sanction activated for violation of the condition. The filing of such a motion shall toll any period of suspension until final action. A hearing shall be held upon motion of either party before the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. At the hearing, the Regulation Counsel has the burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence the violation of a condition of probation. When, in a revocation hearing, the alleged violation of a condition is the attorney's failure to pay restitution or costs, the evidence of the failure to pay shall constitute prima facie evidence of a violation. Any evidence having probative value shall be received regardless of its admissibility under the rules of evidence if the attorney is accorded a fair opportunity to rebut hearsay evidence. At the conclusion of a hearing, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge shall prepare a report setting forth findings of fact and decision.

(f) Termination. Unless otherwise provided in the order of suspension, within thirty days prior to the expiration of the period of probation, the attorney shall file an affidavit with the Regulation Counsel stating that the attorney has complied with all terms of probation. Upon receipt of this notice and absent objection from the Regulation Counsel, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge shall issue an order showing that the period of probation was successfully completed. The order shall become effective upon the expiration of the period of probation.

(g) Independent Charges. A motion for revocation of an attorney's probation shall not preclude the Regulation Counsel from filing independent disciplinary charges based on the same conduct as alleged in the motion.

RULE 241.8. IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION

Immediate suspension is the temporary suspension by the Supreme Court of an attorney's license to practice law for a definite or indefinite period of time while proceedings conducted pursuant to this Rule and these Rules are pending against the attorney.

Although an attorney's license to practice law shall not ordinarily be suspended during the pendency of such proceedings, when there is reasonable cause to believe that an attorney is causing or has caused immediate and substantial public or private harm because the attorney has been convicted of a serious crime as defined by C.R.C.P. 241.20(e), or because the attorney has converted property or funds, or because the attorney has engaged in conduct which poses an immediate threat to the effective administration of justice, the Supreme Court may order the attorney's license to practice law immediately suspended.

The Supreme Court may consider the immediate suspension of an attorney's license to practice law on the petition of the committee or the Regulation Counsel. The petition shall be supported by an affidavit setting forth sufficient facts to give rise to reasonable cause that the alleged conduct has in fact occurred. A copy of the petition shall be served on the attorney pursuant to these Rules.

The Supreme Court, by any justice thereof, may order the issuance of a rule to show cause directing the attorney to show cause why the attorney should not be immediately suspended, which rule shall be returnable within ten days. After the issuance of a rule to show cause, and after the period for response has passed without a response having been filed, or after consideration of any response and reply, the Supreme Court may enter an order immediately suspending the attorney from the practice of law pending further definitive action under this Rule and these Rules.

When the Supreme Court enters an order immediately suspending the attorney, the Regulation Counsel shall promptly prepare and file a complaint against the attorney as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.14, notwithstanding the provisions of C.R.C.P. 241.10 and C.R.C.P. 241.12. Thereafter the matter shall proceed as provided by these Rules.

The attorney may at any time petition the Supreme Court for dissolution or amendment of an order of immediate suspension. A copy of the petition shall be served upon the Regulation Counsel. A hearing on the petition shall be held within ten days before the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge shall hear the petition and submit a transcript of the hearing and a recommendation to the Supreme Court within five days after the conclusion of the hearing. Upon the receipt of the recommendation and the record relating thereto, the Supreme Court shall affirm, dissolve, or modify its order, if appropriate.

An attorney who has been immediately suspended pursuant to this Rule shall have the right to request an accelerated disposition of the allegations which form the bases for the immediate suspension by filing a notice with the Regulation Counsel requesting accelerated disposition. After the notice has been filed, the Regulation Counsel shall promptly file a complaint pursuant to these Rules and the matter shall be docketed by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge for accelerated disposition. Thereafter the matter shall proceed and be concluded without appreciable delay.

RULE 241.9. REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION

(a) Commencement. Proceedings as provided in these Rules shall be commenced:

(1) Upon a request for investigation made by any person and directed to the Regulation Counsel; or

(2) Upon a report made by a judge of any court of record of this state and directed to the Regulation Counsel, as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.4; or

(3) By the committee upon its own motion; or

(4) By the Regulation Counsel with the concurrence of the Chair or Vice-Chair of the committee.

(b) Determination to Proceed. Immediately upon receipt of a request for investigation, a report made by a judge, or a motion made by the committee, as provided in subsection (a) of this Rule, the matter shall be referred to the Regulation Counsel to determine:

(1) If the attorney in question is subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Supreme Court;

(2) If there is an allegation made against the attorney in question which, if proved, would constitute grounds for discipline; and

(3) If the matter should be investigated as provided by C.R.C.P. 241.10 or addressed by means of an alternative to discipline as provided by C.R.C.P. 241.13.

In making a determination whether to proceed, the Regulation Counsel may make inquiry regarding the underlying facts and consult with the Chair of the committee. The decision of the Regulation Counsel shall be final, and the complaining witness shall have no right to appeal.

RULE 241.10. INVESTIGATION OF ALLEGATIONS

(a) When Commenced. If, pursuant to C.R.C.P. 241.9, the Regulation Counsel makes a determination to proceed, the Regulation Counsel shall give the attorney in question written notice that the attorney is under investigation and of the general nature of the allegations made against the attorney. The attorney in question shall file with the Regulation Counsel a written response to the allegations made against the attorney within twenty days after notice of the investigation is given.

Upon receipt of the attorney's response, or at the expiration of the twenty-day period if no response is received, the matter shall be assigned to an Investigator for investigation and report.

(b) Procedures for Investigation.

(1) The Investigator. A member of the committee, the Regulation Counsel, a member of the Regulation Counsel's staff, or an attorney enlisted pursuant to C.R.C.P. 241.2(b)(1) may act as Investigator. The Investigator shall conduct an investigation of the allegations made against the attorney in question.

(2) Procurement of Evidence During Investigation. In the course of an investigation conducted pursuant to these Rules, the Investigator, acting pursuant to and in conformity with these Rules, shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations.

In connection with an investigation of allegations made against an attorney, the Chair of the committee or the Regulation Counsel may issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses, including the attorney in question, and the production of pertinent books, papers, documents, or other evidence in proceedings before the Investigator. All such subpoenas shall be subject to the provisions of C.R.C.P. 45. Any challenge to the power to subpoena as exercised pursuant to this Rule shall be directed to the Presiding Disciplinary Judge.

Any person who fails or refuses to comply with a subpoena issued pursuant to this Rule may be cited for contempt of the Supreme Court.

Any person who intentionally obstructs the Regulation Counsel or the committee or any part thereof in the performance of their duties may be cited for contempt of the Supreme Court.

Any person having been duly sworn to testify who refuses to answer any proper question may be cited for contempt of the Supreme Court.

A contempt citation may be issued by the Supreme Court upon recommendation of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. A copy of the recommendation, together with the findings of fact made by the Presiding Disciplinary Judge surrounding the contemptuous conduct, shall be filed with the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court shall then determine whether to impose contempt.

(3) Investigator's Report. When the Investigator is not a member of the Regulation Counsel's staff, the Investigator shall submit a written report of investigation and recommendation to the committee for a determination as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.12. If the Investigator is a member of the Regulation Counsel's staff, the matter shall be submitted as provided in C.R.C.P. 242.11 or C.R.C.P. 241.12.

(4) Conditional Admission. While the matter is under investigation, the attorney in question and the Regulation Counsel may tender an agreed upon conditional admission of misconduct as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.22 to the committee when the form of discipline is no greater than a private admonition. When the form of discipline is greater than a private admonition or, if a range of disciplinary measures is specified in the conditional admission, then the conditional admission shall be tendered to the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. When a conditional admission is tendered pursuant to this Rule, the person acting as Investigator may forego submitting a written report of investigation and recommendation to the committee as provided in subsection (3) of this Rule.

RULE 241.11. DETERMINATION BY THE
REGULATION COUNSEL

During the investigation or at the conclusion thereof, the Regulation Counsel may determine that the matter should be diverted to the alternatives to discipline program as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.13.

At the conclusion of an investigation of a matter that has not been diverted, the Regulation Counsel shall either dismiss the allegations or report to the committee for a determination as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.12. If the Regulation Counsel dismisses the allegations as provided herein, the person making the allegations against the attorney in question may request review of the Regulation Counsel's decision. If review is requested, the committee shall review the matter and make a determination as provided by C.R.C.P. 241.12; provided, however, that the committee shall sustain the dismissal unless it determines that the Regulation Counsel's determination constituted an abuse of discretion. When the committee sustains a dismissal, it shall furnish the person making the allegations with a written explanation of its determination.

RULE 241.12. DETERMINATION
BY THE COMMITTEE

If, at the conclusion of an investigation, the Regulation Counsel believes that the committee should order private admonition imposed or authorize the Regulation Counsel to prepare and file a complaint, the Regulation Counsel shall submit a report of investigation and recommendation to the committee, which shall determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe grounds for discipline exist and shall either:

(a) Direct the Regulation Counsel to conduct further investigation;

(b) Dismiss the allegations;

(c) Divert the matter to the alternatives to discipline program as provided by C.R.C.P. 241.13;

(d) Order private admonition imposed; or

(e) Authorize the Regulation Counsel to prepare and file a complaint against the attorney.

In determining whether to authorize the Regulation Counsel to file a complaint, the committee shall consider the following:

(1) Whether it is reasonable to believe that misconduct warranting discipline can be proved by clear and convincing evidence;

(2) The level of injury;

(3) Whether the attorney previously has been disciplined; and

(4) Whether the conduct in question is generally considered to warrant the commencement of disciplinary proceedings because it involves misrepresentation, conversion or commingling of funds, acts of violence, or criminal or other misconduct that ordinarily would result in suspension or disbarment.

RULE 241.13. ALTERNATIVES TO DISCIPLINE

(a) Referral to Program. Regulation Counsel, the committee, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, a Hearing Board, the Appellate Discipline Commission, or the Supreme Court may offer diversion to the alternatives to discipline program. The alternatives to discipline program may include, but is not limited to, diversion or other programs such as mediation, fee arbitration, law office management assistance, evaluation and treatment through the Colorado Lawyers' Health Program, evaluation and treatment for substance abuse, psychological evaluation and treatment, medical evaluation and treatment, monitoring of an attorney's practice or accounting procedures, continuing legal education, ethics school, the multistate professional responsibility examination, or any other program authorized by the Court.

(b) Participation in the Program. As an alternative to a form of discipline, an attorney may participate in an approved diversion program in cases where there is little likelihood that the attorney will harm the public during the period of participation, where the Regulation Counsel can adequately supervise the conditions of diversion, and where participation in the program is likely to benefit the attorney and accomplish the goals of the program. A matter generally will not be diverted under this Rule when:

(1) The presumptive form of discipline in the matter is likely to be greater than public censure;

(2) The misconduct involves misappropriation of funds or property of a client or a third party;

(3) The conduct involves a serious crime as defined by C.R.C.P. 241.20(e);

(4) the conduct resulted in or is likely to result in actual injury (loss of money, legal rights, or valuable property rights) to a client or other person, unless restitution is made a condition of diversion;

(5) the attorney has been publicly disciplined in the last three years;

(6) The matter is of the same nature as misconduct for which the attorney has been disciplined in the last five years;

(7) The misconduct involves dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or misrepresentation; or

(8) The misconduct is part of a pattern of similar misconduct.

(c) Diversion Agreement. If an attorney agrees to an offer of diversion as provided by this Rule, the terms of diversion shall be stated in a written agreement between the attorney and Regulation Counsel. The agreement shall specify the program(s) to which the attorney shall be diverted, the general purpose of the diversion, the manner in which compliance is to be monitored, and any requirement for payment of restitution or costs.

(d) Costs of the Diversion. The attorney shall pay all the costs incurred in connection with participation in any diversion program.

(e) Effect of Diversion. When the recommendation for diversion becomes final, the attorney shall enter into the diversion program(s) and complete the requirements thereof. Upon the attorney's entry into the diversion program(s), the underlying matter shall be placed in abeyance, indicating diversion. Diversion shall not constitute a form of discipline.

(f) Effect of Successful Completion of the Diversion Program. If diversion is entered prior to a determination to proceed pursuant to C.R.C.P. 241.(9)(b)(3), and if the attorney successfully completes all requirements of the diversion program, the file shall be closed. After the file has been closed, the attorney in the matter may respond to any general inquiry about the matter by stating that no complaint was made. If diversion is successfully completed in a matter that was determined to warrant investigation or other proceedings pursuant to these Rules, the matter shall be dismissed and expunged pursuant to C.R.C.P 241.33(d). After the file is expunged, the attorney may respond to any general inquiry as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.33(d).

(g) Breach of Diversion Agreement. If Regulation Counsel has reason to believe that the attorney has breached the diversion agreement, the matter shall be referred to the committee with an opportunity for the attorney to respond. Regulation Counsel will have the burden by a preponderance of the evidence to establish the materiality of the breach, and the attorney will have the burden by a preponderance of the evidence to establish justification for the breach. If the breach is determined to be material without justification, the agreement will be terminated and the underlying matter will proceed as provided for by these Rules. If a breach is established but determined to be not material or to be with justification, the committee may elect to modify the diversion agreement as appropriate in light of the breach. If no breach is found, the matter shall proceed pursuant to the terms of the original diversion agreement.

(h) Effect of Rejection of Recommendation for Diversion. If an attorney rejects a diversion recommendation, the matter shall proceed as otherwise provided in these Rules.

(i) Effect of Diversion on Probation. Nothing in this Rule shall preclude a Hearing Board, the Appellate Discipline Commission, or the Supreme Court from imposing probation with conditions as a form of discipline.

(j) Confidentiality. All the files and records resulting from the diversion of a matter shall not be made public except by order of the Supreme Court. Information of misconduct admitted by the attorney to a treatment provider or a monitor while in a diversion program is confidential if the misconduct occurred before the attorney's entry into a diversion program.

RULE 241.14. COMPLAINT - CONTENTS, SERVICE

(a) Contents of Complaint. Complaints seeking to establish grounds for discipline of an attorney shall be filed as provided by these Rules with the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. An original and three copies of the complaint shall be filed.

The complaint shall set forth clearly and with particularity the grounds for discipline with which the respondent is charged and the conduct of the respondent which gave rise to those charges.

(b) Service of Complaint. The regulation Counsel shall promptly serve upon the respondent, as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.32(b), a citation and a copy of the complaint filed against the respondent. The citation shall require the respondent within twenty days after service thereof to file an original and three copies of a written answer to the complaint, in compliance with C.R.C.P. 241.15.

RULE 241.15. ANSWER - FILING, FAILURE TO
ANSWER, DEFAULT

(a) Answer. Within twenty days after service of the citation and complaint, or within such greater period of time as may be approved by the presiding judge, the respondent shall file an original and three copies of an answer to the complaint with the Presiding Disciplinary Judge and one copy with the Regulation Counsel. In the answer the respondent shall either admit or deny every material allegation contained in the complaint, or request that the allegation be set forth with greater particularity. In addition, the respondent shall set forth in the answer any affirmative defenses. Any objection to the complaint which a respondent may assert, including a challenge to the complaint for failure to charge misconduct constituting grounds for discipline, must also be set forth in the answer.

(b) Failure to Answer, and Default. If the respondent fails to file an answer within the period provided by subsection (a) of this Rule, the Regulation Counsel shall file a motion for default with the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. Thereafter, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge shall enter a default and the complaint shall be deemed admitted; provided, however, that a respondent who fails to file a timely answer may, upon a showing that the failure to answer was the result of mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect, obtain leave of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge to file an answer.

Notwithstanding the entry of a default, the Regulation Counsel shall give the respondent notice of the final hearing, at which the respondent may appear and present arguments to the Hearing Board regarding the form of discipline to be imposed.

Thereafter, the Hearing Board shall review all pleadings, arguments, and the report of investigation and shall prepare a report setting forth its findings of fact and its decision as provided in C.R.C.P. 241.19.

RULE 241.16. PRESIDING DISCIPLINARY JUDGE

(a) Presiding Disciplinary Judge. The office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Supreme Court of Colorado is hereby established. The Supreme Court shall appoint a Presiding Disciplinary Judge to serve at the pleasure of the Supreme Court.

(b) Qualifications. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge shall be a lawyer, duly admitted to the Bar of Colorado, with no less than five years experience in the practice of law. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge, while serving in that capacity, may not hold any other public office.

(c) Powers and Duties of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge will be authorized and empowered to act in accordance with these Rules and to:

(1) Maintain and supervise a permanent office in the Denver metropolitan area to serve as the central office in which disciplinary and disability proceedings shall be conducted as provided in these Rules, under a budget reviewed by the advisory committee and approved by the Supreme Court;

(2) Select counsel and appoint a staff as necessary to assist the Presiding Disciplinary Judge in the administration of the Judge's office and in the performance of the Judge's duties;

(3) Order the parties in disciplinary proceedings to attend a settlement conference;

(4) Impose discipline on an attorney or transfer an attorney to disability inactive status as provided in these Rules;

(5) Periodically report to the advisory committee and the management committee on the operation of the office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge;

(6) Recommend to the advisory committee proposed chang es or additions to the rules of procedure for attorney discipline and disability proceedings; and

(7) Adopt such practices as may from time to time become necessary to govern the internal operation of the office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, as approved by the Supreme Court.

(d) Abstention. The Presiding Disciplinary Judge shall refrain from taking part in any proceedings in which a judge, similarly situated, would be required to abstain. No partner or associate in the law firm of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, or any attorney in any way affiliated with the Presiding Disciplinary Judge or the Judge's law firm, may accept or continue in employment connected with any matter pending before the committee, the Judge, a Hearing Board, or the Appellate Discipline Commission as long as the Judge is serving as the Presiding Disciplinary Judge.

(e) Disqualification. Persons appointed to serve as Presiding Disciplinary Judge shall not represent an attorney in any proceeding as provided in these Rules during their terms of service, and following the completion of their terms of service shall not represent an attorney in any matter that was being investigated and/or prosecuted during their terms of service.

RULE 241.17. HEARING BOARD

(a) Hearing Board. Hearing Boards are hereby established and empowered to act in accordance with these Rules.

(1) Members. The Supreme Court shall appoint a diverse pool of members of the Bar of Colorado and members of the public to serve as members of Hearing Boards. Persons appointed shall serve terms of two years. Terms shall be staggered to provide, so far as possible, for the expiration each year of the terms of an equal number of persons. Persons appointed shall be eligible to serve no more than three consecutive terms.

Persons appointed shall serve at the pleasure of the Supreme Court and may be dismissed from service at any time by order of the Supreme Court. Persons appointed may resign at any time.

(2) Vacancy. In the event of vacancies on the list of Hearing Board members, the Supreme Court shall, with the assistance of the advisory committee, appoint new persons to the list to serve on Hearing Boards.

(3) Reimbursement. Members of Hearing Boards shall be entitled to reimbursement for reasonable travel, lodging, and other expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties.

(b) Abstention of Committee Members. Members of Hearing Boards shall refrain from taking part in any proceedings in which a judge, similarly situated, would be required to abstain. No partner or associate in the law firm of a member of the Board, or any attorney in any way affiliated with a member of the Board or the member's law firm, may accept or continue in employment connected with any matter pending before the Hearing Board as long as the member is serving on the Hearing Board. However, a partner or an associate in the law firm of a member of the Board, or any attorney in any way affiliated with a member of the Board or the member's law firm, may accept or continue in employment connected with any matter pending before a Hearing Board upon which the member is not serving.

(c) Disqualification. Persons appointed to serve as members of Hearing Boards shall not represent an attorney in any proceeding as provided in these Rules during their terms of service.


Attorney Regulation System:

 

Proposed Rules 241.1 through 241.17
Proposed Rules 241.18 through 241.26
Proposed Rules 241.27 through 241.34
Proposed Rules 242.1 through 242.16 and 1.15



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