Board on Professional Responsibility Purpose and Procedures

Rule XI confers on the Board on Professional Responsibility the authority to adjudicate cases of attorney misconduct and disability and the responsibility for administering the disciplinary system. The nine–member Board is appointed by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and includes seven attorneys and two members of the public. Board members are unpaid volunteers and are eligible to serve two three-year terms.

The Board meets twice a month for 11 months of the year. Its caseload includes the review of recommendations for discipline by the Hearing Committees, and cases referred by the Court of Appeals, including criminal conviction referrals, reciprocal discipline matters, petitions for negotiated discipline and petitions for reinstatement. The Board also considers petitions for emergency temporary suspension of attorneys.  If a party objects to a Hearing Committee recommendation, all nine members of the Board will hear oral argument, unless they are recused or otherwise unable to participate. A Board member is assigned to each case and prepares a formal report for review by the full Board, which, if approved, is filed with the Court. The Board also has the authority to issue final disciplinary orders dismissing complaints, orders directing Bar Counsel to issue letters of informal admonition, and orders imposing private reprimands. All these orders are subject to review by the Court of Appeals.

The Board’s administrative responsibilities include the promulgation of procedural rules and policies, preparation of the Board’s budget and technology initiatives, and oversight of the Board’s Office of the Executive Attorney and the Office of Bar Counsel. The Board also appoints Hearing Committee members to preside at hearings and oversees their training. In addition, the Board hosts an annual Disciplinary Conference, which discusses a topic of interest to the disciplinary system. The conference is attended by Judges of the Court of Appeals and the D.C. Superior Court, present and former Board and Hearing Committee members, the Office of Bar Counsel, counsel for respondents, and the leadership and staff of the District of Columbia Bar.