The Colorado Lawyer
Vol. 27, No. 2 [Page 23]
© 1998 The Colorado Lawyer and Colorado Bar Association. All Rights Reserved.
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1997 Report of the Colorado Attorney Regulation System Planning Committee
Public Hearing: February 23, 1998, at 10:00 A.M.
This Report has not been adopted or approved by the Supreme Court, but is submitted by the Court for comment by members of the bar and the public. The Court will hold a public hearing on February 23, 1998, at 10:00 A.M. to receive comment from any interested person before any final approval or proposal of rules. Written comments should be provided to the Clerk of the Court, Mac Danford, by February 18, 1998. Requests to make oral comments to the Court at the hearing should be submitted to Mr. Danford by February 18, 1998.
Colorado has an ever-increasing population of practicing attorneys, currently over 18,000. The complaints filed against those attorneys number approximately 1,600 per year. The current regulatory system was designed to respond to a small number of complaints from a prosecutorial perspective. This system is in need of revisions that will offer increased protection to the public and provide additional assistance to and appropriate oversight of attorneys.
Recognizing this need, the Colorado Supreme Court invited the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professional Discipline ("the ABA") to evaluate our present system, identify potential problem areas, and make recommendations to the Court regarding proposed changes. The ABA visited Colorado, undertook a comprehensive evaluation, and submitted recommendations to the Court in a report in the fall of 1997. The recommendations appeared in summary form in the October issue of The Colorado Lawyer [26 The Colorado Lawyer 75 (October 1997)].
The Chief Justice appointed a seventeen-member Attorney Regulation System Planning Committee ("the Committee") to evaluate the ABA's recommendations for change and to report back to the Court (see Tab A for a full list of Committee members and brief biographical sketches). The Committee's conclusions are set forth below.
II. Committee Conclusions About the Present System
The Committee believes the system of attorney discipline in Colorado must meet three major goals:
- It should foster public confidence and trust in attorneys and in the justice system;
- It should help attorneys who need assistance; and
- It should provide a fair, efficient, and visible process to resolve complaints charging attorneys with misconduct.
Both the ABA and the Committee agree that Colorado's present system of attorney regulation must be modified in order to achieve these goals. The Committee, after considerable discussion and evaluation, has determined that the present system needs improvement in the following areas:
A. The Public is Not Adequately Protected
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel devotes disproportionate resources to the investigation of complaints expressing frustration with the attorney but involving minimal or no misconduct. Approximately 60 percent of all complaints against attorneys are dismissed. Another significant percentage-20 percent-relate to acts resulting in no actual or potential harm to the client or the public and therefore give rise to the lowest form of attorney discipline, a letter of admonition. Common examples include complaints regarding an attorney's failure to communicate with the client, failure to provide the client's new attorney with client files, and allegations that an attorney charged an alleged excessive fee.
The current system fails to meet either the client's or the attorney's needs in the less serious matters. During the lengthy investigation process there is little, if any, communication between the attorney and the client. No attempt is made to resolve the issue and as a result, the client's problem is not solved and the attorney's problem is not addressed. Ultimately, the public suffers because small attorney errors may become much larger errors in the future. Further, the public attributes the delay to indifference or to an effort to shield or protect attorneys.
By devoting substantial resources to the investigation and prosecution of minor matters, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel necessarily has fewer resources to concentrate on the prosecution of more serious charges of misconduct such as conversion of funds, deception, and fraud, which carry potentials for greater harm to the public. Thus, the Committee believes that the present resource allocation for claims of minimal misconduct is ineffective in the eyes of the public and is inadvertently reducing needed emphasis on more serious charges of misconduct. Further, Colorado is the only state that does not provide some form of compensation for clients who are victimized by an attorney's conversion of trust account monies.
B. The Average Time to Complete the Disciplinary Process--a Little Under Two Years--is Too Long
The disciplinary process takes a long time. On average, investigation takes 8.6 months; preparation for and completion of trial takes 11.4 months; and if the imposed sanction is public censure, suspension, or disbarment, approval from the Hearing Panel and the Supreme Court takes another six months. Even if there is no hearing or trial, the process may take the same amount of time because a sanction of public censure, suspension, or disbarment requires approval by both the Hearing Panel and the Supreme Court. This lengthy process does not engender public confidence. The complainant suspects a whitewash-especially if the complaint is ultimately dismissed. The attorney-respondent is traumatized by the delay because he or she lives under the constant threat of discipline.
C. Discipline Decisions Lack Consistency
All attorney discipline imposed in Colorado is published in some form. Decisions imposing private discipline-letters of admonition and private censures-are summarized in The Colorado Lawyer with the identities of the client and the attorney-respondent withheld. Decisions imposing public censure, suspension, or disbarment are published in West's Pacific Reporter because the present rules require the Supreme Court to impose these sanctions. The number of published attorney discipline cases rises annually-66 in 1996 and an estimated 75 in 1997.
Inconsistency necessarily results from the involvement of three separate reviewing bodies: the Hearing Boards, the Hearing Panel, and the Supreme Court. Hearing Boards consist of three volunteers, some of whom do not have experience in the area of attorney discipline and none of whom has had the benefit of formal training to be hearing officers in attorney discipline matters. At times, Hearing Boards address similar fact patterns and reach different results. The Hearing Panel and the Supreme Court attempt to impose consistent discipline and, at the same time, respect the fact-finding conclusions of the Hearing Boards. This tension sometimes produces inconsistent decisions that contribute to a lack of confidence in the system by the public and by attorneys. Additionally, because Hearing Boards and Hearing Panels are comprised solely of volunteers, there is more turnover, resulting in less decision-making consistency.
While the Committee is critical of the inconsistency of disciplinary decisions, the Committee wishes to emphasize and recognize the extraordinary efforts and contributions of the volunteer members of the Grievance Committee and Hearing Boards. Without the countless hours and fierce dedication to the system exhibited by these volunteers, our current system would have collapsed. Colorado is indeed fortunate to have so many members of the bar and the public willing to devote so much of their time and energy to this system.
D. The System Needs More Structure in Leadership and Management
There has been little oversight management of the operation of the disciplinary system and its components. The two offices-the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and the Grievance Committee-operate independently with no systematic supervision or accountability. The State Court Administrator's Office conducts periodic audits of both offices to ensure fiscal compliance; however, there has been little leadership with respect to policy changes and direction, coordination and accountability of each part of the disciplinary system, consistent job descriptions, and job performance evaluations of the professionals within the system. Further, the Court has made no prior attempt to review the effectiveness of the system in view of the increasing number of persons practicing law in Colorado and the changes occurring in the practice of law.
III. Policy Recommendations for change
A. A Central Intake System Should be Established
The ABA report recommends and the Committee agrees that Colorado's attorney discipline system should develop new ways to address the approximately 80 percent to 85 percent of complaints that are either dismissed or involve minor attorney misconduct.
The Committee supports the implementation of a system based on a "central intake" model. A central intake system is designed to respond directly and quickly to the public's complaints, with the primary objective of helping the client and the attorney resolve the problem. A central intake system will efficiently resolve the large majority of complaints-those involving minor attorney misconduct typically due to poor training and not to a blatant disregard of professional responsibilities.
Central Intake, which will be overseen by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, should consist of three experienced intake attorneys. These attorneys will screen complaints, resolve minor matters, and refer more serious matters for immediate investigation. Intake attorneys will receive and respond to all initial complaints by telephone. If appropriate, intake attorneys will add the attorney as a party to the conversation and attempt to resolve the complaint. Intake attorneys will provide the complainant with general information about the court system and the professional obligations of attorneys. Intake attorneys may offer suggestions, solutions, advice and preventive information to the attorney. The goal of the central intake system is to resolve the complaint within two to ten days. Intake attorneys will field minor complaints by telephone without generating supporting documentation internally and without requiring written information from the attorney. The ABA estimates that between 70 percent and 80 percent of complaints will be resolved by this process.
If the problem is minor and appears to result from the attorney's lack of knowledge or experience, or from a mental health or substance abuse issue, then central intake will refer the case to diversion. There will be a presumption that the attorney will be deferred to the diversion program if the intake attorney initially determines that the attorney's conduct would result in a sanction of public censure or less. The diversion program will operate as a formal alternative to discipline that provides education or rehabilitation for the attorney and direct resolution of the consumer's complaint. The diversion program should consist of a number of options: mediation, voluntary arbitration of fee disputes, and law office management courses covering pertinent topics such as trust accounting, client communications, ethics, and the like. It should also include a referral system to substance abuse programs and mental health counseling. Attorneys will be accepted into the diversion program only if they meet eligibility requirements and agree to voluntary participation. Upon acceptance, the attorney must comply with strict conditions that will be monitored by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel or its designee, such as the Colorado Lawyers Health Program ("CLHP").
If the central intake attorney receives a complaint alleging serious misconduct, then that complaint will be immediately referred to formal investigation. If the intake attorney believes the conduct may warrant suspension or disbarment, or when the attorney is ineligible for diversion, the case will be referred to formal investigation.
Florida recently instituted a similar central intake system and boasts a respondent recidivism rate of less than 1 percent. In the past, 20 percent to 30 percent of Florida's discipline matters involved repeat offenders. The ABA believes and the Committee agrees that a central intake system would successfully resolve the vast majority of the public's complaints and that attorneys will view a well-designed diversion program as assistance rather than punishment. The implementation of a central intake system requires a number of changes. A range of alternatives to discipline programs, some now in existence and run by different entities, must be incorporated into the system's diversionary structure, such as the Colorado Bar Association's committees for mediation and fee arbitration, CLHP, ethics school, practice monitoring, and other CLE courses.
B. A Vertical, Rather Than Horizontal, Investigation System is Recommended
Cases in which there appears to be no "easy" solution will progress to a "vertical" system of investigation. In a vertical system, one attorney is responsible for the case from the time the case is referred to formal investigation until final resolution. Under the current system, investigation and trial work occur "horizontally," which means that one attorney investigates the case, and later, a second attorney with trial experience tries the case. The Committee agrees with the ABA's observation that the current "horizontal" system of intake and investigation creates unnecessary delays and duplicates efforts of the staff, requiring multiple determinations of probable cause and repetitive reviews of work already performed. The ABA recommends and the Committee agrees that an experienced trial attorney should be responsible for the case as soon as it is assigned to formal investigation. This attorney will have the assistance of non-attorney investigators with particular expertise, such as training in law enforcement or auditing experience. The Committee recommends that the vertical system be instituted and additionally recommends the hiring of a paraprofessional, an investigator with prior law enforcement experience, and an experienced auditor on a half-time basis.
C. A Fund for Client Protection Should be Created and Trust Account Compliance Should be Emphasized
The ABA recommends a number of changes designed to protect and to compensate clients who are victimized when an attorney converts trust monies. A fund should be created to pay clients some compensation for these conversions, and the fund should be administered by a volunteer board appointed and supervised by the Supreme Court. Trust account compliance and investigation will be an added function of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, and the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct should be amended to require attorneys to maintain client trust accounts only at financial institutions that provide trust account overdraft notification to both the attorney and the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. All overdraft notifications will be referred for immediate investigation. In addition, the judicial department should seek legislation requiring payors to provide written notice of payments made to attorneys in third-party settlements. The Committee rejects the ABA recommendation that the court adopt a program to audit attorney trust accounts on a random basis.
D. A Tri-Partite System to Screen, Adjudicate and Conduct Appellate Review of Serious Complaints of Misconduct Should be Established (See Tab B for diagram of system)
The ABA recommends and the Committee agrees that the present twenty-five-member Grievance Committee be reorganized and restructured to undertake three independent tasks: (1) the screening of complaints, (2) the adjudicatory function, and (3) appellate review of the findings of fact and the conclusions of law of the adjudicatory branch. Each component will have a separate staff and will operate independently; however, all components will be subject to oversight by the Management Committee as discussed in section III. I. (See Tab B for diagram of proposed central intake system.)
1. The Attorney Regulation Committee (ARC)
The ARC will function analogously to Inquiry Panels under our present system. This Committee will review the recommendations of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel-which will be renamed the "Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel" of the Colorado Supreme Court-for the filing of complaints and will accept or reject conditional admissions and stipulations to private discipline. This is contrary to the ABA recommendation that all conditional admissions be reviewed by an Appellate Discipline Commission. The Committee recommends modifying the rules to permit conditional admissions to be presented as stipulations to the ARC only when agreed to by both the attorney-respondent and the regulation counsel. The ARC will have the authority to recommend and approve placement of attorneys in the diversion program as an alternative to the imposition of a private sanction or public censure, and may impose private discipline upon attorneys rejected from the diversion program. The ARC will be comprised of nine volunteers-six attorneys and three public members. The Committee recommends that the ARC meet monthly en banc, and not in panels as recommended by the ABA. Committee members believe that for the ARC to function fairly, more than three members must consider reports and participate in all decisions. The ARC and the Attorney Regulation Counsel will be appointed by the Supreme Court. The Chair of the ARC will sit on the Supreme Court Advisory Committee, which serves to implement policy and to advise the Management Committee as discussed in section III.I.
2. Adjudicative Branch--Presiding Disciplinary Judge and Hearing Boards
The Committee disagrees with the ABA's recommendation of a sole administrative law judge and recommends a blended or hybrid system that combines the efficiency of an administrative law judge with the experience and fresh insight of volunteer members. To achieve that combination, the Committee recommends hiring a half-time Presiding Disciplinary Judge ("PDJ") who will have the sole discretion to rule on all pre-trial motions, to decide probation revocation petitions, and to review all conditional admissions and stipulations involving discipline recommendations of a public sanction, suspension, or disbarment. This does not follow the ABA's recommendation that the PDJ review all stipulations. When the parties stipulate to a range of discipline, the PDJ will conduct a hearing where both parties may present argument and where the complainant will be heard if he or she wishes. This process was not discussed in the ABA report. After the hearing, the PDJ's imposition of discipline will be final, and the stipulation, together with the written explanation of the discipline imposed, will constitute the final disciplinary order. The Committee recommends that in the event the PDJ rejects a conditional admission, either party may recuse the PDJ as a matter of right. If that occurs, then the PDJ will appoint a third Hearing Board member and the adjudicatory hearing will proceed in the same way that a hearing is conducted under our present system. The Committee recommends modifying the rules to permit conditional admissions to be presented as stipulations to the PDJ only when agreed to by both the attorney-respondent and the regulation counsel. The PDJ will also be vested with the authority to order the parties to engage in settlement conferences. The Committee believes that the current practice of former Grievance Committee members volunteering to act as settlement judges is successful and should be continued under the proposed system.
The PDJ, sitting as part of a three-person Hearing Board, will have the additional functions of presiding over all adjudicatory hearings and over proceedings concerning reinstatement of suspended attorneys and readmission of disbarred attorneys. The Court will choose Hearing Board members from a list of volunteers assembled with an emphasis on prior Grievance Committee and hearing experience. The resulting three-person adjudicatory body should be ethnically, geographically and gender diverse. All Hearing Board members will receive training as a precondition to serving on a Hearing Board. Hearing Board members and the PDJ will be appointed by the Supreme Court. The PDJ will be responsible for drafting all decisions of the adjudicatory branch. The PDJ will sit on the Supreme Court Advisory Committee.
All decisions of the adjudicatory branch will be final unless appealed to the Appellate Discipline Commission ("ADC").
Based on statistical information garnered in 1996 and 1997, the adjudicatory branch should hear between forty and sixty cases per year, requiring approximately forty-five days of trial time, and should approve approximately seventy conditional admissions. Approval of stipulations by the present Hearing Panel and the Supreme Court will be eliminated. As a practical matter, a majority of the public discipline meted out will be approved by the adjudicatory branch.
3. The Appellate Discipline Commission (ADC)
This Commission will consist of volunteer members who will hear and decide appeals from the adjudicatory branch. Briefs will be permitted, as will oral argument, a notion not discussed by the ABA's report. The standard of review for reversal of the adjudicatory branch's findings of fact will be the "clearly erroneous" standard. The ADC will consist of seven volunteers-five attorneys and two public members. It will utilize the support staff presently available to the Grievance Committee Counsel, and will prepare detailed written decisions in all cases it hears. These decisions will be available for publication. The ADC and Counsel to the ADC will be appointed by the Supreme Court. The Chair of the ADC will sit on the Supreme Court Advisory Committee.
Using past experience as a guide, between twelve and twenty cases per year will be appealed to the ADC after adjudication.
E. The Supreme Court Should Exercise Certiorari Review in Attorney Disciplinary Matters While Enhancing its Leadership Role
The Supreme Court will exercise certiorari review in those cases which are significant to the development of professional responsibility law. The Committee recommends that the Court grant certiorari review on issues of professional conduct that will have state-wide impact on the practice of law. The Committee recommends that the Supreme Court's review be limited to a determination of whether the factual findings of the PDJ are clearly erroneous or whether the imposition of sanctions rises to the level of an abuse of discretion. Issues relating to conclusions of law will be reviewed by the Court on a de novo basis. The Supreme Court will continue to exercise jurisdiction directly over matters involving immediate suspension or disability.
F. Probation Should be Added as a Sanction, and Two Forms of Private Discipline Should be Reduced to One Form of Private Discipline Called an "Admonition"
The ABA recommends that the disciplinary rules be amended to include the additional sanction of probation. Probation may be warranted in place of suspension or to reduce the length of suspension in those cases where the attorney-respondent can perform legal services but has problems that require supervision and monitoring. Probation should be imposed where there is little likelihood that the attorney-respondent will cause harm during the period of rehabilitation and the conditions of probation can be adequately supervised. The Committee believes that placing an attorney-respondent on probation under these circumstances protects the public and acts to prevent future misconduct by addressing the problem that led to the filing of charges. The Committee notes that the Grievance Committee has recently endorsed such a probation rule.
The ABA recommends the imposition of only one form of private discipline, thereby eliminating the letter of admonition and the private censure currently in place. A letter of admonition is a sanction for misconduct resulting in no harm to others and a private censure is a sanction for misconduct resulting in little harm. The Committee agrees with this ABA recommendation because, under the new system, most minor misconduct will be referred to diversion and will not result in formal discipline. Thus, two types of private discipline appear to be unnecessary.
G. Revisions Should be Made to Some of the Confidentiality Provisions
The ABA recommends that once a complaint becomes formal, all sanctions should be made public. The ABA also recommends that private discipline be eliminated as a sanction upon the filing of a formal complaint. The Committee disagrees and recommends that private discipline as a sanction be maintained as an option throughout the proceedings. To eliminate the option for a private sanction after the ARC recommends formal proceedings affords too much discretion to regulation counsel and might result in unfair treatment of the attorney-respondents who seek vindication by trial. If private discipline is imposed after the proceeding becomes public, the Committee recommends that only the fact that private discipline was imposed be disclosed and that the details or factual content of the discipline remain private and confidential.
The ABA recommends that the public be able to access a case upon the filing and service of the complaint (rather than after the passage of sixty days as is now our requirement). The Committee believes that the sixty-day waiting period serves no useful purpose and recommends the elimination of this time period to permit public access to the proceedings.
The ABA also recommends eliminating the "Gag Rule" that requires confidentiality of the status of proceedings, records, subject matter, and pendency of all non-public proceedings. See C.R.C.P. 241.24(a). The Committee agrees, and similar confidentiality provisions have been deemed unconstitutional infringements on First Amendment rights. See Doe v. Supreme Court of Florida, 734 F.Supp. 981 (S.D. Fla. 1990).
H. Authority for the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel to Dismiss Complaints and Standards for the Rights of Complainants Should be Adopted
The ABA recommends that the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel have the exclusive authority to dismiss requests for investigation, that the complainant should have a right of appeal to the PDJ in the event a complaint is dismissed, and that the complainant be afforded specific rights within the system.
The Committee agrees with these ABA recommendations for a number of reasons. At the present time, the Office of Disciplinary Counsel does not have exclusive authority to dismiss charges. This increases the backlog of investigation matters, thereby diverting resources from more serious matters.
A complainant should have a limited right of appeal in the form of a hearing to an independent professional, the PDJ, in order to claim that the dismissal was an abuse of discretion. The attorney-respondent will have the right to be present at this hearing. If the PDJ finds that the dismissal was an abuse of discretion, then attorney regulation counsel will be required to prosecute the case, the PDJ will be disqualified from all future proceedings regarding that case, and a Hearing Board comprised of three Hearing Board members will be appointed to adjudicate the case. Under the existing system the complainant has the option of prosecuting a complaint in his own name. This process is time-consuming and inefficient. If the decision to dismiss is upheld, then the PDJ must explain why the decision to dismiss does not constitute an abuse of discretion. This process assures the complainant serious consideration of the complaint by two independent bodies.
Public confidence in the system will also be increased, as the ABA suggests, by advising the complainant regularly of the status of the proceedings. The complainant has the right to receive notice of all hearings in the case and the right to speak on the issue of sanctions, subject to cross examination, whether or not the complainant is called as a witness.
I. A New Leadership and Management Structure for the Colorado Attorney Regulation System Should be Established
The chart at Tab C represents the proposed leadership structure of the Colorado Attorney Regulation System. By adopting this structure, the Committee hopes to provide the system with (1) leadership; (2) accountability; and (3) professional assistance for management issues.
The four key components of the system are the Attorney Regulation Counsel, the Attorney Regulation Committee, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, and the Appellate Discipline Commission.
Assisting these entities will be the Management Committee, which will have the responsibility of coordinating administrative matters between all programs of the Attorney Regulation System. The Management Committee will consist of the Clerk of the Supreme Court (who shall serve as chair), Attorney Regulation Counsel, Counsel to the Appellate Discipline Commission, and the Executive Director of the Boards of Law Examiners and Continuing Legal and Judicial Education.
The Management Committee, in addition to coordinating policy and providing oversight supervision of the entire system, will also have the responsibility of coordinating annual job performance reviews for Attorney Regulation Counsel, Counsel to the Appellate Discipline Commission, and for the Executive Director of the Boards of Law Examiners and Continuing Legal and Judicial Education. In addition, the Management Committee will ensure that the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, and the Appellate Discipline Commission utilize professional assistance and guidance from the State Court Administrator's Office with respect to information services, personnel services, training, financial auditing and accounting, and budget review. The Management Committee will meet regularly.
The Management Committee will be assisted by the Advisory Committee which will be composed of the Chairs of the Attorney Regulation Committee, the Appellate Discipline Commission, the Client Protection Fund Board, the Colorado Lawyers Health Program, the Board of Law Examiners, the Board of Continuing Legal and Judicial Education, and the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee. The Supreme Court's liaison justices, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, and a public member with experience in the Grievance Committee will also be members of the Advisory Committee.
The Advisory Committee shall meet initially at least bi-monthly to develop appropriate policy for implementation by the attorney discipline system. The Planning Committee will refer to the Advisory Committee for immediate review, discussion, and promulgation the criteria for entry into a diversion program, the criteria by which the ARC will determine whether to recommend formal proceedings, and procedures for revocation of probation.
The Committee recommends that the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee's enforcement actions should be handled at this time by the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. In addition, the Committee recommends that the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee be requested to determine whether it needs to continue in operation because a number of Planning Committee members believe that enforcement of the unauthorized practice of law should reside with other agencies and offices that have authority in that area, such as the Attorney General or local district attorneys.
IV. Budget Implications
The recommended changes are anticipated to cost approximately $60 per registered attorney. Of the $60, approximately $20 will be allocated for the Client Protection Fund, $10 for the Lawyers Health Program, and the balance will fund central intake and adjudicative expansion. Because the attorney registration fee has not been raised since 1992, the system is currently operating at a deficit of approximately $20 per attorney. An additional $20 increase will need to be imposed to address that deficit.
The Committee fully supports the necessary increase in attorney registration fees to fund these proposals. The Committee believes these proposals are consistent with obligations of attorneys to the public and to the profession.
Any increase in the attorney registration fee is subject to final review and approval by the Court.
See Tabs A, B, and C.
Colorado Attorney Regulation System
Planning Committee Members
Justice Rebecca Love Kourlis. Justice Kourlis was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1995. She is a liaison justice to the Grievance Committee and co-chairs the Colorado Attorney Regulation System Planning Committee. Before becoming a member of the Supreme Court, she served as an arbitrator with the Judicial Arbiter Group, a Chief Judge in the Fourteenth Judicial District, a Water Judge, and a District Court Judge. Before her ascension to the bench, Justice Kourlis was in private practice specializing in natural resource and water law.
Justice Michael L. Bender. Justice Bender was appointed to the Colorado Supreme Court in 1997. He is a liaison justice to the Grievance Committee and co-chairs the Colorado Attorney Regulation System Planning Committee. Before becoming a member of the Supreme Court, his practice emphasized criminal defense and the defense of respondents in attorney discipline proceedings.
M. Susan Kudla, Chairperson of the Grievance Committee. Ms. Kudla is a private practitioner with the law firm of Schoenwald, Sanger & Kudla LLC. She served on the Grievance Committee for six years, two years as vice chair of Panel B and two years as chairperson of the Committee. Her service on the Grievance Committee ended December 31, 1997.
Mac Danford, Clerk of the Supreme Court of Colorado. Mr. Danford is a 1989 graduate of the University of Denver College of Law. He served as Clerk of the Colorado Court of Appeals from 1978 to 1985, when he became Clerk of the Colorado Supreme Court. Mr. Danford has worked with attorney grievance matters in the Supreme Court and has administered the Attorney Registration system since 1985.
Steve Berson, State Court Administrator. Mr. Berson was admitted to the Colorado Bar in 1974 and has served as the Colorado State Court Administrator since 1993. He held various positions in state government from 1975 to 1993 and served in the cabinets of Governors Lamm and Romer.
Mr. Jim Benway, Director of Human Resources, State Court Administrator's Office. Mr. Benway served as District Administrator for the Eleventh Judicial District and as Clerk of the Court of Appeals before joining the State Court Administrator's Office, where he is currently the Director of Human Resources.
Mr. John Doerner, Judicial Audit Division, State Court Administrator's Office. Mr. Doerner has been with the Colorado Judicial Department for 15 years and is currently the Manager of the Judicial Audit Division. He oversees the statewide Jury Management System and has supervised all audits of the Grievance Committee, Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Board of Law Examiners, and Board of Continuing Legal Education since 1987. Mr. Doerner is certified as an Internal Auditor and as a Public Accountant.
Linda Donnelly, Disciplinary Counsel. Ms. Donnelly has served as Disciplinary Counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court since 1979. She is a past President of the National Organization of Bar Counsel and a member of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professional Discipline.
John S. Gleason, Deputy Disciplinary Counsel. Mr. Gleason served as Assistant Disciplinary Counsel from 1988 to 1996, when he became Deputy Disciplinary Counsel. Before Mr. Gleason joined the Office of Disciplinary Counsel his private practice emphasized federal litigation.
James Hollaway, Grievance Committee Counsel. Mr. Hollaway has served as counsel to the Grievance Committee and counsel to the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee since 1981. He has been a member of the Colorado Bar Association Ethics Committee since 1981 and a member of the National Organization of Bar Counsel since 1975. He has also served as a member of the Supreme Court's Model Rules Committee.
Marilyn J. David. Ms. David has been a member of the Grievance Committee since 1992, serving as its vice chair in 1997. She has been a member of the Colorado Bar Association Ethics Committee since 1986 and has presented seminars on ethics to various groups. Her private practice emphasizes estate planning, probate, and creditor bankruptcy.
Phillip S. Figa. Mr. Figa is a past President of the Colorado Bar Association and a former chair of its Ethics Committee. He currently serves on the Colorado Commission on Judicial Discipline and has been a member of the Colorado Supreme Court/Colorado Bar Association Joint Commission to Review the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Mr. Figa's civil practice includes representation of respondents in attorney discipline proceedings.
Daniel R. Casias. Mr. Casias has been in practice for 21 years and has served as a Special County Attorney for Pueblo and Custer counties, as President of the Pueblo Hispanic Bar Association, and as a judge for Fowler Municipal Court. He is a member of the Pueblo County Bar Association Executive Committee and is currently in private practice.
Gary M. Jackson. Mr. Jackson is a 1971 graduate of the University of Colorado School of Law. He is a trial attorney who represents plaintiffs and defendants in civil and criminal actions. From 1982 to 1985, Mr. Jackson served as chair of the Committee on Conduct for the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. He presently represents respondents in attorney discipline proceedings.
Nancy L. Cohen. Ms. Cohen has been a member of the Colorado Bar Association Ethics Committee since 1984 and is a former chair of the Committee. She was a member of the Model Rule Committee and presently serves on the Colorado Bar Association Board of Governors and as vice-chair of the Committee on Conduct for the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. She has been in private practice for over 15 years and is currently a shareholder in the firm of Waldbaum, Corn, Koff, Berger & Cohen, where a portion of her practice is devoted to representing respondents in attorney discipline proceedings.
G. Bryan Morgan. Mr. Morgan was admitted to the Colorado Bar in 1966. He specializes in criminal defense and the defense of respondents in attorney discipline matters. Mr. Morgan is an adjunct professor of ethics and professional responsibility at the University of Colorado School of Law.
Michael H. Gendel, M.D. Dr. Gendel is a psychiatrist in private practice. He is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and Associate Medical Director of the Colorado Physician Health Program. Dr. Gendel is co-chair of the Medical Care Evaluation Committee and is a member of the Grievance Committee.
Mr. Bruce Douglas, Director, Division of Registrations, Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. Mr. Douglas is a licensed attorney who worked in the Colorado Attorney General's Office prior to assuming his current position as Director of the Division of Registrations. The Division of Registrations is comprised of 25 professional and occupational licensing boards and committees which regulate more than 30 professions. At the national level Mr. Douglas is actively involved in the Council on Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation and served as its President from 1989-90. He currently serves as a member of the Pew Health Professions Commission's Taskforce on Health Care Workforce Regulation.
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