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Discipline Standards Task Force Proposed Modifications to the Standards for Attorney Sanctions for Professional Misconduct
In October 2013, the Board of Trustees adopted “clean-up” changes to the Standards for Attorney Sanctions for Professional Misconduct and appointed a Discipline Standards Task Force to evaluate and determine whether a comprehensive overhaul was needed and if additional changes should be made.
The Task Force began its work in May 2014 and held a series of four public hearings through October 24, 2014. The Task Force broke into three working groups: Working Group I (Standards Model Comparisons), Working Group II (Levels of Discipline), and Working Group III (Aggravation and Mitigation). These working groups met and made recommendations to the full Task Force. The Task Force received and approved those recommendations on October 24, 2014, and voted to refer them to the Regulation and Discipline Committee.
As part of its charge, the Task Force looked at other disciplinary standard models, including state and federal criminal sentencing guidelines, the ABA Model Rules, and attorney disciplinary standards from other jurisdictions. Ultimately, the Task Force declined to adopt the model of narrowly tailored sentencing guidelines. The Task Force also decided the ABA Model Rules were not a good fit either – as the Model Rules contained terms such as “negligence” and “admonitions” that were inconsistent with California’s approach to levels of discipline. However, the Task Force did recommend substantive changes to certain Standards and the adoption of new Standards for specific acts of misconduct that were only previously addressed in a catch-all provision. Among the modifications, the Task Force recommendations include:
At its Nov. 6, 2014 meeting, the Regulation and Discipline Committee authorized the creation of staff working group to evaluate the issue of “stayed suspension” and it also authorized a 70-day public comment period to circulate the Task Force’s proposed revisions to the Standards for Attorney Sanctions for Professional Misconduct.
The agenda item and attachments linked below describe the proposed recommendations in detail.
Regulations and Discipline Committee Meeting – Nov. 6, 2014:
Regulation and Discipline Committee
Jan. 16, 2015