29 March 2012
Supreme Court of Missouri expands transparency of attorney discipline process
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Supreme Court of Missouri today expanded what information will be available to the public in attorney discipline actions. Pursuant to the order, which takes effect July 1, 2012, the following are considered public, unless subject to a specific protective order:
- On the filing with the Supreme Court’s advisory committee an information by the chief disciplinary counsel and answer or other responsive pleading by the attorney, all materials filed in connection with the information as well as all related proceedings;
- Written admonitions;
Previously, materials connected with attorney discipline proceedings and the proceedings themselves were not public until and unless the chief disciplinary counsel filed an information with the Supreme Court.
The order further provides that, if a disciplinary action against an attorney is dismissed by this Court or, with the acceptance of the chief disciplinary counsel, by a disciplinary hearing panel, then the attorney may request that the records of the information be made confidential.
“Citizens have a right to expect a high level of professional service from their lawyers, and when lawyers fail to meet the ethical standards set out in this Court’s rules, they are subject to disciplinary action,” Missouri Chief Justice Richard B. Teitelman said. “Disciplinary proceedings in this Court always have been open, and for six years, we have published online this Court’s disciplinary orders and opinions. But we realize it is important for the public to know if an attorney is facing disciplinary action, even before the case might get to this Court. That is why we are opening the disciplinary process up at a much earlier stage, at the point when the chief disciplinary counsel has found cause to believe an attorney has violated the rules of ethics and, therefore, begins the process of seeking discipline against that attorney’s license to practice law in Missouri.”
Today’s order is online here. More information about the attorney discipline system, as well as links to this Court’s disciplinary orders and opinions, is online at http://www.courts.mo.gov/page.jsp?id=109856.
Contact: Beth S. Riggert
Supreme Court of Missouri