Friday, November 17, 2006
Proposed State Bar Resignation Rule Passes Committee Test
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A State Bar committee voted yesterday to publish for public comment a proposal that would shift to the State Bar Court Review Department the Board of Governors’ duty to recommend to the Supreme Court whether a member’s resignation with disciplinary charges pending should be accepted.
The Committee on Regulation, Admissions, and Discipline Oversight, meeting in San Francisco, unanimously approved the publication of a proposed addition to the Rules of Procedure of the State Bar for a 90-day public comment period.
“The reasons for this requested delegation is that Rule 960 requires consideration of resignations with charges pending on a case-by-case basis and may require the resolution of contested factual matters,” George Scott, acting administrative officer/chief court counsel of the State Bar Court, said in a memo to committee members.
“It is difficult, if not impossible, for the Board of Governors to consider timely each of these resignations and resolve whatever factual disputes that may exist,” he continued. “The State Bar Court is better situated to perform these adjudicatory duties.”
About five to 10 resignations with charges pending are filed each month, Scott said. Present rules provide that the Board of Governors shall consider a member’s resignation with charge pending and recommend to the Supreme court whether the resignation should be accepted.
The rules also provide that the court may decline to accept the resignation upon a report by the board that the perpetuation of necessary testimony is not complete; that after transfer to inactive status, the member continued to practice; that the member failed to comply with certain rules; or that the court has filed an order of disbarment as to the member; or upon such other evidence that may show that acceptance of the resignation would be inconsistent with the need to protect the public.
“The resolution of such factual maters is essential to an appropriate recommendation to the Supreme Court,” Scott said. “The Board of Governor’s structure and limited meeting dates makes it difficult, if not impossible, for it to perform timely the duties required by rule 960.”
The proposed rule would provide a procedure by which the Office of Chief Trial Counsel could present evidence to the Review Department, which then would perform the required adjudicatory functions.
Most of the resignations do not involve factors which may weigh in favor of recommending that the resignation not be approved, Scott said.
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