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EXTERNAL AFFAIRS DIVISION
231 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
(860) 757-2270, Fax (860) 757-2215

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 22, 2003

 

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Grievance Revisions Postponed due to Budget

Because of the budget situation, Connecticut's state judges have voted to postpone until October 1, 2003, revisions to attorney grievance rules.

The rules were to have taken effect on July 1, 2003, and included creating the position of chief disciplinary counsel and disciplinary counsel. But the positions could not be funded at this time, given the uncertainty of the FY 03-04 budget.

"This is not unexpected, given the current budget climate, and I said last year that the hirings would be delayed if the money wasn't available." Chief Court Administrator Joseph H. Pellegrino said. "But I want to stress that these revisions are not casualties -- they are scheduled to take effect on October 1st."

State judges approved the changes to the grievance process during their annual meeting in 2002. Among the revisions was the creation of a disciplinary counsel, who will investigate and pursue all cases before the Statewide Grievance Committee in which probable cause of misconduct is found.

The disciplinary counsel will work within the Office of the Chief Court Administrator, and, in addition to the above duties, will initiate presentment proceedings and assume other prosecutorial functions, including pursuing applications for the interim suspension, reciprocal discipline and placement on inactive status of attorneys. The Office of Statewide Bar Counsel will retain its administrative duties.

Several other changes are included in the revisions, including:

  • Expanding the role of counsel to grievance panels, so that counsel can help complainants understand the grievance process and the reasons for a dismissal of their complaint. But grievance counsel would not provide legal advice to complainants or prosecute the complaint. (Under the current rules, judges appoint attorneys to serve on a part-time basis as grievance counsel to the grievance panels.)

  • Upon a vote of a majority of its members, a grievance panel may require disciplinary counsel to pursue a matter before it on the issue of whether there is probable cause to believe that the lawyer is guilty of misconduct.

  • Discipline is expanded to include not only conviction of a felony, but also any larceny or any crime for which a lawyer is sentenced to a term of incarceration or for which a suspended sentence is imposed.

  • All of the new rules will apply to grievances filed on or after October 1, 2003.

    The judges' vote to postpone the revisions to the grievance process occurred at a special judges' meeting on May 14, 2003.

    For further information, contact Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, Manager of Communications, at 860-757-2270.

     

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