Hearing Committees of the Board on Professional Responsibility Purpose and Procedures
The Hearing Committees of the Board have the authority under Rule XI to conduct hearings on formal charges of misconduct and contested petitions for reinstatement, limited hearings on petitions for negotiated discipline, and hearings on such other matters as the Court or Board may direct. Each Hearing Committee is composed of two attorney members and one public member. Hearing Committee members are appointed by the Board and are eligible to serve two three–year terms. There are 12 standing Hearing Committees and a roster of alternate Hearing Committee members, who serve when a regular member is unavailable.
The Hearing Committees consider evidence and the testimony of witnesses, taken under oath, in a proceeding that is public. Hearing Committees are generally guided, but not bound, by provisions or rules of court practice, procedure, pleading and evidence. In contested disciplinary proceedings, the matter is briefed at the conclusion of the hearing, and the Hearing Committee prepares a report and recommendation, with proposed findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a recommended sanction, which is filed with the Board. In contested petitions for reinstatement, the Hearing Committee files its proposed findings and recommendation directly with the Court. Petitions for negotiated discipline are considered after a limited hearing, where the Hearing Committee determines whether the agreement complies with the requirements of Rule XI and the Board Rules and if the agreed–upon sanction is justified. If the Hearing Committee approves the negotiated discipline, it files its recommendation directly with the Court. If it does not approve the negotiated discipline, the Hearing Committee issues an order rejecting the agreement of the parties.
Attorney members of the Hearing Committees (referred to as “Contact Members”) are also responsible for reviewing, approving, or suggesting modifications to Bar Counsel’s proposed dispositions of disciplinary complaints.