Rule 11-531. Proceedings before Committee and screening panels.

(a) Review. Screening panels will review all Complaints the OPC refers to them, including all facts developed in the Complaint, the answer, the contents of the file, and the hearing, and including the OPCís recommendations.

(b) OPCís summary and Notice of additional alleged violations. Before any screening panel hearing, the OPC may file with the clerk and serve on the Respondent a summary of its investigation. If the OPC has determined, after serving Respondent with the Notice, that the Respondent may have violated any additional Rules of Professional Conduct or Licensed Paralegal Practitioner Rules of Professional Conduct, then the summary must identify with particularity all such additional alleged violations. The summary will serve as Notice of any additional violations the OPC did not previously charge. If the OPC provides a summary to the screening panel, the OPC must also provide the summary to the Respondent. If the OPC alleges additional rule violations in the summary, the summary must be served on the Respondent at least 14 days before the hearing. In cases where a judicial officer has not addressed or reported a Respondentís alleged misconduct, the screening panel may not consider this inaction to be evidence either that misconduct has occurred or has not occurred.

(c) Respondentís appearance. The screening panel must, with at least 28 daysí notice, afford the Respondent an opportunity to appear before the screening panel before taking any action that may result in recommending an admonition or public reprimand, or the OPCís filing of an Action. Respondent and any witnesses the Respondent calls may testify, and Respondent may present oral argument with respect to the Complaint.

(d) Respondentís brief. Respondent may submit a written brief to the screening panel and serve a copy on the OPC at least 7 days before the hearing, which may not exceed 10 pages unless the panel chair or vice chair allows an extension for good cause. The OPC will forward a copy of the brief to the Complainant. 

(e) Complainantís appearance. A Complainant has the right to appear before the screening panel personally and may testify, together with any witnesses the Complainant calls.

(f) Right to hear evidence; cross-examination. The Complainant and Respondent have the right to be present during presentation of evidence unless excluded by the screening panel chair for good cause. Respondent may be represented by counsel, and Complainant may be represented by counsel or another representative. Either Complainant or Respondent may request that the panel chair seek responses or pose questions to the other party at the hearing. Direct cross-examination will ordinarily not be permitted unless, upon request, the panel chair deems that it would materially assist the panel in its deliberations.

(g) Rule violations not charged by the OPC. During the screening panel hearing, but not after, the panel may find that rule violations have occurred not previously charged by the OPC. If so, the screening panel will give Respondent a reasonable opportunity to respond during the hearing. The Respondent may address the additional charges at the hearing and may file with the Committee clerk and serve on the OPC within two business days of the hearing a written response to the new charges along with supplemental materials related to the new charges. Before making a determination or recommendation, the response and any supplemental materials must be reviewed and considered by the panel members present at the original hearing.

(h) Hearing record. The proceedings of any screening panel hearing under this rule will be recorded at an audio quality level that permits an accurate transcription of the proceedings. The clerk will assemble and deliver to the Committee chair a complete record of the proceedings upon the panelís determination or recommendation to the Committee chair. The record of the proceedings before the panel must be preserved for at least one year after delivery of the panelís determination or recommendation to the Committee chair and for such additional time as any further proceedings on the matter are pending or might be instituted under this rule.

(i) Screening panel determination or recommendation. After reviewing all the facts developed by the Complaint, answer, investigation, and hearing, the screening panel will make one of the following determinations or recommendations:

(1) The preponderance of evidence does not establish that the Respondent engaged in misconduct, in which case the screening panel will dismiss the Complaint. A letter of caution may also be issued with the dismissal. The letter must be signed by the screening panel chair or vice chair and will serve as a guide for the future conduct of the Respondent. The Complainant will be confidentially notified of the caution;

(2) The Complaint must be referred to the Professionalism and Civility Counseling Board established under Rule 14-303;

(3) The Complaint must be referred to the Committee chair with an accompanying screening panel recommendation that the Respondent be admonished;

(4) The Complaint must be referred to the Committee chair with an accompanying screening panel recommendation that the Respondent receive a public reprimand;

(5) The OPC must file an Action against the Respondent if the panel finds probable cause to believe there are grounds for public discipline that merit an Action; or

(6) The OPC must file an Action if the panel finds misconduct and the misconduct is similar to the misconduct alleged in an Action against the Respondent that has been recommended by a screening panel or is pending in district court at the time of the hearing.

(j) Aggravation and mitigation. The Respondent and the OPC may present evidence and argument as to mitigating and aggravating circumstances during the screening panel hearing, but this evidence will not be considered unless the panel has determined the Respondent engaged in misconduct.

(k) Multiple cases involving the same Respondent. More than one case involving the same Respondent may be scheduled before the same panel, but in determining whether a rule has been violated in one case, only the factual allegations in that case may be considered.

(l) Recommendation of admonition or public reprimand. A screening panel recommendation that the Respondent be disciplined under paragraph (i)(3) or (i)(4) must be in writing and state the substance and nature of the Complaint and defenses and the basis upon which the screening panel has concluded, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the Respondent be admonished or publicly reprimanded. The screening panel must deliver copies of the recommendation to the Committee chair, Respondent, and the OPC.

Effective December 15, 2020