The Grievance Committee is
charged with the responsibility of investigating allegations of
misconduct and/or unethical activity by judges and/or attorneys.
It is also charged with the responsibility of investigating mental
illness issues that might affect the ability of the judge or
attorney to fulfill his/her obligations to their clients and/or
The Committee is certified by the
Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Ohio
Supreme Court. Its procedures are governed by the Rules for
the Government of the Bar of Ohio as well as by its own internal
rules of procedure.
The Committee must investigate
any issue involving the potential misconduct and/or unethical
activity by a judge or an attorney. These issues may come to
the Committee by way of a formal written complaint filed by any
individual. They may come to the Committee as a result of
information in the media. The information may come to the
Committee as a result of oral communication from various
individuals in the community. Any attorney who has knowledge
of such activity is charged with the responsibility to report it.
If the attorney does not report it, the failure to report, is, in
itself, a violation.
The Committee is governed by the
Code of Professional Responsibility and the Code of Judicial
Conduct. If the conduct does not violate either Code, the
Committee cannot proceed. Impolite, uncivil, or rude
behavior is not necessarily a violation of either Code.
When the Committee
receives any knowledge as portrayed above, it will assign an
investigator to investigate the information. The
investigator must submit a written and oral report to the
Committee. The Committee will then determine whether or not
there is sufficient evidence to proceed. If the Committee
concludes that there is not sufficient evidence, it will dismiss
the complaint. Upon dismissal, any individual who has
complained has the right to have the dismissal reviewed. The
review is accomplished by asking for a review with the Board.
The Board will assign an entity to review the decision.
Usually, that entity is the Disciplinary Council of the State of
If the Committee determines that
there is sufficient evidence to proceed, the Committee will
appoint Bar Counsel. Bar Counsel is then charged with
prosecuting the complaint before the Board of Commissioners on
Grievances and Discipline.
When a complaint is filed with
the Board, the Board will appoint a probable cause panel. If
the panel determines there is no probable cause to believe that a
violation of either Code has occurred, it will dismiss the
complaint. If it determines there is probable cause, it will
certify the complaint. The complaint will then become
public. A hearing panel is appointed, and Bar Counsel is
charged with the responsibility of prosecuting the complaint
before the hearing panel.
The hearing panel will make a
report and a recommendation to the full Board. The Board
will consider the matter. The Board can dismiss the
complaint. The Board can refer it back to the panel for
further proceeding or, the Board can submit it a recommendation to
the Ohio Supreme Court.
The Ohio Supreme Court will
receive the recommendation of the Board. All parties will
have the opportunity to show cause as to why the recommendation
should not be accepted. An oral hearing will be heard before
the Ohio Supreme Court.
The Ohio Supreme Court has the
final authority to determine whether or not there has been a
violation of either Code and, if so, what the sanction should be.
If a violation is
found, sanctions range from a public reprimand through disbarment.