(a) Filing. The OPC or any person may initiate a disciplinary proceeding against any Lawyer by filing a written Complaint in concise language setting forth the acts or omissions claimed to constitute unprofessional conduct.
(1) If an individual initiates the Complaint, filing is complete when the Complaint is delivered to the OPC office in hard copy or electronic form, or through the OPC’s website at opcutah.org.
(2) If the OPC initiates the Complaint, filing is complete when the OPC delivers the Complaint to the Lawyer in hard copy or electronic form.
(b) Complaint form. The Complaint need not be in any particular form or style and may be by letter or other informal writing, although the OPC may provide a form to standardize the format. The Complaint need not recite disciplinary rules, ethical canons, or a prayer requesting specific disciplinary action. The Complainant must sign the Complaint and include the Complainant’s address and may list the names and addresses of other witnesses. The Complaint must contain an unsworn declaration as to the accuracy of the information in the Complaint. Complaints filed by the OPC are not required to contain such a declaration. A Complaint’s substance prevails over the form.
(c) Initial investigation. Upon receiving a Complaint, the OPC will conduct a preliminary investigation to ascertain whether the Complaint’s allegations are sufficiently clear. If the allegations are not sufficiently clear, the OPC will seek additional facts from the Complainant, who must, upon the OPC’s request, submit documents or writings containing any additional facts. Within three months after filing a Complaint, the OPC must advise the Complainant concerning the initial investigation of the Complaint.
(d) Referral to Professionalism and Civility Counseling Board. The OPC may—in connection with any conduct that comes to its attention—refer any matter to the Professionalism and Civility Counseling Board established under Rule 14-303. Such referral may be in addition to or in lieu of any further proceedings related to the subject matter of the referral. Such referral should be in writing and—at the discretion of the OPC—may include any or all information included in the Complaint or additional facts submitted by the Complainant.
(e) Notice to Respondent. Upon completing the preliminary investigation, the OPC will determine whether the Complaint can be resolved in the public interest, the Respondent’s interest, and the Complainant’s interest. If the Complaint cannot be resolved or if it alleges facts that, by their very nature, should be brought before the screening panel, or if good cause otherwise exists to bring the matter before the screening panel, the OPC must:
(1) serve the Respondent with a Notice identifying with particularity the possible violation(s) of the Rules of Professional Conduct or Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct raised by the Complaint as the OPC has preliminarily determined;
(2) attach a copy of the signed Complaint; and
(3) mail the documents to the Respondent’s address as reflected in the Bar’s records.
(f) Answer to Complaint. Within 21 days after the Respondent is served with the Complaint and Notice, the Respondent must file with the OPC a signed, written answer explaining the facts surrounding the Complaint, together with all defenses and responses to the claims of possible misconduct. For good cause, the OPC may extend the time for filing an answer not to exceed an additional 28 days. When the answer is filed or if the Respondent fails to respond, the OPC will refer the case to a screening panel to make a determination or recommendation. The OPC must forward a copy of the answer to the Complainant.
(g) Dismissing the Complaint.
(1) Reasons for dismissal. The OPC may dismiss a Complaint without referral to a screening panel hearing if the OPC determines the Complaint is:
(A) frivolous, unintelligible, unsupported by fact, or fails to raise probable cause of any unprofessional misconduct;
(B) barred by the statute of limitations;
(C) more adequately addressed in another forum; or
(D) one in which the OPC declines to prosecute.
(2) Notification and appeal.
(A) When the OPC dismisses a Complaint, it must:
(i) notify the Complainant and the Respondent that the OPC has dismissed the Complaint;
(ii) state the reasons for dismissal; and
(iii) include a notice of the Complainant’s right to appeal an OPC decision to the Committee chair.
(B) The Complainant may appeal the dismissal by filing an appeal with the Committee clerk and serving a copy of the appeal on the OPC within 21 days after the dismissal notification is mailed.
(C) On appeal, the Committee chair or a vice chair will conduct a de novo review of the file, either affirm the dismissal or require the OPC to prepare a Notice (if necessary), and set the matter for hearing by a screening panel. If the chair recuses, the chair will appoint the vice chair or one of the screening panel chairs to review and determine the appeal.
Effective December 15, 2020