E-mail to House Judiciary Committee regarding John Yoo

U.S House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary via Committee Contact Form

Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Chairman, via House Contact Form

Hon. Howard L. Berman via House Contact Form

Hon. Rick Boucher via House Contact Form

Hon. Jerrold Nadler via House Contact Form

Hon. Robert C. Scott via House Contact Form

Hon. Melvin L. Watt via House Contact Form

Hon. Zoe Lofgren via House Contact Form

Hon. Sheila Jackson Lee via House Contact Form

Hon. Maxine Waters via House Contact Form

Hon. William D. Delahunt via e-mail

Hon. Robert Wexler via House Contact Form

Hon. Linda T. Sánchez via House Contact Form

Hon. Steve Cohen via House Contact Form

Hon. Hank Johnson via House Contact Form

Hon. Betty Sutton via House Contact Form

Hon. Luis Gutierrez via House Contact Form

Hon. Brad Sherman via House Contact Form

Hon. Tammy Baldwin via House Contact Form

Hon. Anthony D. Weiner via House Contact Form

Hon. Adam B. Schiff via House Contact Form

Hon. Artur Davis via House Contact Form

Hon. Debbie Wasserman Schultz via House Contact Form

Hon. Keith Ellison via House Contact Form

Dear Chairman Conyers and Democratic Members of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary:

I have been researching the conduct of various attorneys in the service of the government of the United States, whether that conduct is a violation of the rules of professional conduct with which each such attorney must comply and authoring factual allegations of conduct that establish violations of the applicable rules of professional responsibility, including John Yoo, Alberto Gonzales, D. Kyle Sampson, and Harriet Miers. In my opinion, Professor Yoo has committed numerous violations of the rules of professional conduct of Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., that raise a substantial question as to his honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer.

Please consider questioning Professor Yoo regarding his unethical conduct as an attorney with the Department of Justice.

E.M.

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Horton hears a Yoo

Horton hears a Yoo

Updated April 23, 2008 to add poster art parody courtesy of the talented nonnie9999 who has many more posters at Hysterical Raisins. If I knew how, I would add this caption: … and then he rebuked him. Many thanks, Nonnie.

As Melissa from Writechic Press noted here, New York attorney and Columbia Law School professor Scott Horton ‘spanked’ Professor John C. Yoo in an Op-Ed Monday in the L.A. Times. In his Opinion column, Prof. Horton discusses the National Lawyers Guild’s campaign to have Prof. Yoo fired from his tenured position at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law. While recognizing the possible chilling effect the firing would have on academia, Prof. Horton correctly dispenses with this concern:

But does academic freedom really sit at the heart of this controversy? It’s not Yoo’s ideas in an academic setting that give rise to his current problems but his conduct as a government lawyer.

And although Prof. Yoo claims that “he only advised and theorized; [and that] others took the decision to implement the program[,]” Prof. Horton explains that the facts do not support this defense:

It also appears that government lawyers had told Bush administration officials that some of the techniques already in use were illegal, even criminal. In fact, a senior Pentagon lawyer described to me exchanges he had with Yoo in which he stressed that those using the techniques could face prosecution. Yoo notes in his Pentagon memo that he communicated with the Criminal Division of the Justice Department and got assurances that prosecutions would not be brought. The question becomes, was Yoo giving his best effort at legal analysis, or was he attempting to protect the authors of the program from criminal investigation and prosecution?

In any case, Yoo kept the program running. Even the man who came in to run the Office of Legal Counsel after Yoo’s departure, Jack Goldsmith, has written that he understood Yoo’s project this way. Goldsmith also rescinded Yoo’s memos.

According to Human Rights First, more than 100 people have died in U.S. detention in the war on terrorism. It documented 11 cases where the deaths resulted from coercive interrogation techniques, and others where there was at least some connection. Yoo insists that there is no relationship between the deaths and his advice, because he didn’t set policy or carry it out, he merely offered a legal opinion. But had he refused to give the opinion that was sought, the program might have been suspended and some of those detainees might be alive. (Emphasis supplied.)

Prof. Horton charitably notes that:

It’s possible that when all the facts about their preparation and use come out, Yoo will be exonerated. But the criminal law and ethical issues surrounding his work on the memos are very serious.

But before he can be exonerated, Prof. Yoo’s conduct must be properly investigated to determine if his actions have violated the applicable rules of professional conduct. And before he can be investigated, grievances must be filed against Prof. Yoo in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C.

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Starting to notice but not quite there.

At The Nation, Professor Stephen Gillers is correct when he writes in The Torture Memo that:

The press tends to overlook the lawyers when scandal breaks, focusing instead on their clients. That’s understandable, but in public and commercial life no serious move is possible (no corporate maneuver, no new financial instrument, no war, no severe interrogation tactic) without legal approval. Even if the advice proves wrong, the client, if sued or indicted, can claim reliance on counsel.

When lawyers in private practice mess up, they face serious jeopardy. They can be fired, sued for malpractice, disbarred or prosecuted. Yoo and Bybee face no such risks. The President won’t protest. He got what he wanted. And while a state disciplinary body can investigate, that is unlikely without Justice Department help.

I disagree that the involvement of the Department of Justice is required to instigate an investigation of Mr. Yoo, Mr. Bybee or any other unethical attorney in the service of the federal government. As I note here , anybody, from any state, can file an ethics complaint against any attorney practicing anywhere in the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Mr. Gillers continues:

In his book The Terror Presidency, [Bybee’s successor, Jack] Goldsmith, now a Harvard law professor, writes that the torture memos had “no foundation” in any “source of law” and rested on “one-sided legal arguments.”

* * *

How could two really smart guys authorize torture using “one-sided legal arguments” that have “no foundation” in law? How could they be guilty of a “stunning failure of lawyerly craft”? The sad answer seems to be that they knew what the President wanted and delivered: torture is OK if you call it something else. Detainees are outside the protection of due process and civilized law. The President’s authority is close to absolute. Anyway, no court can review him. (On this last point, the Supreme Court disagreed.)

* * *

So maybe the best and brightest lawyers got it so wrong because they forgot whom they served. Maybe they acted politically, not professionally. If so, we are dealing with a perversion of law and legal duty, a betrayal of the client and professional norms, not mere incompetence, which would be bad enough. Whatever the reason, Jarrett should find that this work is not “consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys.” [H. Marshall] Jarrett[, counsel for the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility,] must hold the lawyers accountable if he means to restore OLC’s reputation and vindicate the rule of law.

I agree with Mr. Gillers’ characterization of these attorney’s actions but must again strongly disagree that it is Mr. Jarrett that must hold anybody accountable. To repeat myself: anybody, from any state, can file an ethics complaint against any attorney practicing anywhere in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

In his response at Balkinization to Boalt (Cal Berkeley) School of Law Dean Chris Edleyn’s defense of John Yoo, Scott Horton explains in more detail why John Yoo should be held to account :

[T]he facts establish that the torture policies were settled upon and had in fact been implemented. The principal authors were facing severe blow back from career lawyers inside the government. And John Yoo was carted in to use the powers of OLC to silence lawyers protesting the illegality of what was done. I believe that an objective examination of the facts will show that this is precisely how John Yoo understood his role. In essence, he was not an independent legal advisor. He had become a facilitator, an implementor of the torture policies. His role had shifted from passive advisor to actor, pushing a process forward.

Dean Edley then states that the ethical accountability and legal liability of the legal advisor cannot be compared to those of the policy maker. This statement rests on a false understanding of the facts. But it also reflects a misconception of the established law. Indeed, Dean Edley asks what appears to be a rhetorical question:

Did the writing of the memoranda, and his related conduct, violate a criminal or comparable statute?

The answer to that question is “yes.” The liability of an attorney dispensing advice with respect to the treatment of persons under detention in wartime is subject to a special rule. It cannot be viewed in the same manner as advice given in a complex commercial dispute, for instance.

This principle was established by the United States in one of the most dramatic of the post-World War II proceedings, United States v. Altstoetter, the “lawyers’ case.” Following on the guidelines established by Justice Robert H. Jackson, the U.S. chief prosecutor, Telford Taylor, and his deputy, Charles M. La Follette, established clear principles of accountability for lawyers dispensing legal advice in circumstances virtually identical to those faced by John Yoo. There are three major principles relevant to John Yoo’s case that appear from the charge, accepted by the Tribunal. First, the case dealt with persons under detention in wartime (not POWs, in fact most of the cases in question addressed persons not entitled to POW or comparable protections). Second, it had to be reasonably foreseeable that the advice dispensed would result in serious physical or mental harm or death to a number of the persons under detention. Third, the advice given was erroneous. In fact several of the lawyers in Altstoetter were able to articulate far better defenses for their erroneous legal advice that John Yoo had, but the standard did not require it to be “outrageously” false, just incorrect.

Each of these criteria is satisfied with respect to Yoo’s advice under the torture memoranda. They explicitly address persons under detention. It was reasonably foreseeable that persons would suffer serious physical or mental harm or death as a result of the application of the techniques (in fact there have been more than 108 deaths in detention, a significant portion of them tied to torture). And the analysis was false, a point acknowledged ultimately by the OLC itself. Accordingly, a solid basis exists under the standard articulated by the United States under which John Yoo may be charged and brought to trial. * * *

However, my point here is not to make the prosecutor’s case against Yoo. It is to show that what he did raises not merely ethics issues, but actual criminal culpability . * * * (Emphasis supplied).

Also at Balkinization, Professor John Balkin asks whether John Yoo and Jay Bybee violated the canons of professional ethics. In drawing his conclusion, Professor Balkin considered, among others, the Gillers and Horton arguments that I highlighted above, and wrote:

My own conclusion is that Yoo and Bybee did violate their professional obligations to the President as constitutional actor, and to the country as a whole. The reason is a combination of their outrageous theory of presidential dictatorship and their all too eager assistance in what appears to be a conspiracy to commit war crimes. But I do not pretend that the question is at all an easy one.

Note that even if I am right that Yoo violated the canons of professional ethics, he has not been sanctioned by any court or professional organization, much less convicted of any crime by a domestic court or international tribunal. This is important to keep in mind in the debate over whether the University of California should discipline or investigate him.

While I also do not pretend that the question of whether these attorneys violated the canons of professional ethics is an easy one, I am confident that the answer to the question is ultimately yes. And if the answer is yes, then the question becomes what can you and I do to hold these attorneys accountable for their actions in addition to lobbying Congress, writing blog posts and comments, praying and waiting?

Consider first this from Mr. Horton in his response to Dean Edley:

A final aspect of Dean Edley’s memorandum troubles me. He is appropriately concerned about freedom of expression for his faculty. But he should be much more concerned about the message that all of this sends to his students. Lawyers who act on the public stage can have an enormous impact on their society and the world around them. They can make great sums of money. They can be a force for social good. And they can also be vessels of horrendous injustice and oppression. Indeed they can foment and advance a criminal design. * * *

Much of the nobility of this profession lies in the duty of a lawyer to exercise independent professional judgment and to warn a client from an enterprise which is not merely foolish but at times actually immoral and criminal. Elihu Root famously termed this the lawyer’s first calling. When confronted with a trying circumstance, John Yoo not only failed to give proper warning — He became an active part of an enterprise bent on overriding the most fundamental legal and ethical prohibitions. Perhaps a criminal enterprise. And that is and will likely be seen by future generations as a far more troublesome matter than Dean Edley recognizes.

Edley owes it to his institution and to the students it is training to accept the full ethical and legal challenges that the case of John Yoo raises, and to treat them earnestly. * * * (Emphasis supplied).

And also this from Mr. Horton from April 3, 2008:

It’s also time for the organized bar to act decisively. So far bar organizations have denounced the torture memoranda and issued learned reports and articles. But I’m still haunted by a question a student put to me following a presentation I made at Columbia University on Tuesday evening. “If the bar is so serious about this,” the student said, “then explain to me how it’s possible that John Yoo and his confederates haven’t been disbarred.” I started to answer about the complexity of the disbarrment process, but I stopped. The student was right. If the bar were serious about this, it should have used its disciplinary tools to deal with it. This is not a case of an eccentric academic mouthing some cock-eyed theories. It is about a government official using the power of a government office to induce people to commit serious crimes.

* * *

Silence will buy us a continuation of this corruption of our nation. But isn’t it worth raising your voice and articulating your anger to get our country back? It should start with insisting that Congress use the tools it has–oversight and the budget–to force changes. Say “no” to torture; it’s an easy first step on the road back to decency. (Emphasis supplied.)

I noted in response to this post then, and reiterate today, that appealing to this Congress is insufficient and that it is now for direct action by you, the citizen/activist. Each of you can file a grievance against each and every one of these attorneys whether you live in the same or a different state and whether you are personally involved in the matter or are just an interested citizen. By doing so, you can force these bar associations to investigate these matters. Take action: file a grievance.

And remember, it’s not just Yoo and Bybee. There’s Alberto Gonzales, Harriet E. Miers, Kyle D. Sampson, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Judge Mark Everett Fuller and many others.

E.M.

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E-mail to Judge Mark Everett Fuller

Judge Mark Everett Fuller
U.S. District Court Judge
mark_fuller@almd.uscourts.gov

Dear Judge Fuller,

I have been researching the conduct of various attorneys in the service of the government of the United States, whether that conduct is a violation of the rules of professional conduct with which each such attorney must comply and authoring factual allegations of conduct that establish violations of the applicable rules of professional responsibility, including Alberto Gonzales, D. Kyle Sampson, Harriet Miers and yourself. In my opinion, you have committed numerous violations of the rules of professional conduct of Alabama that raise a substantial question as to your honesty, trustworthiness and fitness as a lawyer.

I’m interested in your response to the criticisms that your conduct in your handling of the Don Siegelman matter violated the Alabama Rules of Procedure.

E.M.

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The immorality of torture leads – inevitably – to prosecutorial misconduct

At Balkinization, Professor David Luban discusses how the adoption of a torture regimen results in this additional unintended consequence: government lawyers are systematically violating “ethics rule[s] forbidding them from speaking with parties who have legal representation without obtaining consent of the party’s lawyer.” Professor Luban explains in greater detail:

This is the “no-contact rule” in the ethics codes. Under existing law, contact forbidden to lawyers is forbidden to their agents and investigators as well. Rather clearly, the Clean Team were doing investigations on behalf of the prosecution, and in fact the Times story [link] quotes a government official who confirms the role that prosecutors played in guiding the Clean Team.

All the Guantanamo detainees are represented by lawyers handling their habeas corpus and Detainee Treatment Act cases. And the Clean Team re-interrogations are poster children for exactly the evil that the no-contact rule was designed to remedy: getting a represented party to make admissions that he would never make if his lawyer had the opportunity to advise him.

* * * [I]n 1998, Congress passed the McDade Amendment, which requires federal prosecutors to abide by state ethics rules, including the no-contact rule. * * * Military lawyers aren’t covered by the McDade Amendement [sic], but their own ethics codes contain the no-contact rule, and require them to follow state bar rules. [Link here to the adopted rules of professional conduct for all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.]

The ABA’s version of the no-contact rule reads: “In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized to do so by law or a court order.” (State and military rules are similar.)

In the Guantanamo cases, three questions occur. First, is the subject of the representation the same? The Clean Team wants witnesses to talk about 9/11 and who was involved; the habeas lawyers are challenging the legality of their imprisonment. These are not identical legal issues, but the overlap is obvious: both have to do with who the detainee is, who he knows, and what the nature of his involvement with Al Qaeda is, if any. It’s hard to believe that the Clean Team interrogations are not about “the subject of the representation.”

Second, are the prosecutors authorized by law to question represented persons without the consent of their lawyers? As far as I know, no such law exists (do readers have information to the contrary?) And third, were the Gitmo prosecutors authorized to send out the Clean Team by a court order of the military commissions? If so, has it been made public? Revealed to defense counsel? Was there an adversarial hearing over whether such a court order would be proper? I’m fairly confident that the answer to the last set of questions is no. Put it all together, and it looks like the activities of the Clean Team stem from unclean prosecution tactics.

So what rationale do these government lawyers use to justify their actions? Professor Luban explains:

[T]he government does not consider the detainees’ lawyers to actually represent them, because the habeas and DTA lawyers were not assigned by the military commissions Appointing Authority. In an e-mail to me, [Charles] Swift[, who represents Salim Hamdan,] posed the question this way: “When is an attorney not an attorney?” Answer: when the government wants to pretend that the attorney’s client is unrepresented, in order to send the Clean Team in to get information that will avoid all the unpleasantness that torture raises in regimes that purport to respect the rule of law. * * *

Professor Luban correctly concludes:

Admittedly, in the grand scheme of things prosecutorial violations of the no-contact rule don’t have nearly the significance of all the other things wrong with Guantanamo and the military commissions. But the Clean Team and its investigations are part of something that goes much deeper than infractions of the ethics rules: dealing with tortured evidence in a legal system that purports to be civilized. * * *

* * * For years, critics have predicted that – along with all its other evils – torture would make it harder to bring terrorist criminals to justice. Those chickens are now coming home to roost. Small wonder if prosecutors have to cheat on their professional ethics to try to make the stain go away.

The damages caused by the arrogance, recklessness and incompetence of the Bush administration and its lawyers continue to increase. Had enough? File a grievance.

E.M.

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It’s not paranoia if they ARE out to get you

The Washington Post’s Dan Eggen reported yesterday that

A federal grand jury in Alexandria has issued a subpoena seeking information about the confidential sources of a newspaper journalist who wrote in a 2006 book about alleged CIA efforts to infiltrate Iran’s nuclear program.

The Jan. 24 subpoena ordered the reporter, James Risen of the New York Times, to appear before the grand jury next Thursday, said David N. Kelley, Risen’s attorney. Kelley, a former U.S. attorney in New York, said Risen plans to resist the order.

Glenn Greenwald then correctly described Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s involvement and the dangers presented by this tactic:

Although there are still facts missing — such as whether this Subpoena was actually approved by Mukasey rather than Gonzales — it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Grand Jury Subpoena was done at least with Mukasey’s assent. It seems rather clearly to signify the intent of his Justice Department to more aggressively pursue reporters who disclose information embarrassing to the President.

It’s hard to overstate how threatening this behavior is. The Bush administration has erected an unprecedented wall of secrecy around everything it does. Beyond illegal spying, if one looks at the instances where we learned of lawbreaking and other forms of lawless radicalism — CIA black sites, rendition programs, torture, Abu Ghraib, pre-war distortion of intelligence, destruction of CIA torture videos — it is, in every case, the by-product of two forces: government whistleblowers and reporters willing to expose it.

Grand Jury Subpoenas such as the one issued to Risen have as their principal purpose shutting off that avenue of learning about government wrongdoing — the sole remaining avenue for a country plagued by a supine, slothful, vapid press and an indescribably submissive Congress. Mukasey has quickly demonstrated that he has no interest in investigating and pursuing lawbreaking by high government officials, but now, he (or at least the DOJ he leads) seems to be demonstrating something even worse: a burgeoning interest in investigating and pursuing those who expose such governmental lawbreaking and turning those whistleblowers and investigative journalists into criminals.

This is yet another example of this administration improperly using the force of law, i.e., investigation, prosecution and jailing of its critics, to cover its track. Risen is on his way to being Siegelmanned, which is exactly what I’m trying to avoid by remaining anonymous. Especially since I don’t have the resources of Simon & Schuster available to me like Risen does.

Greenwald added this in an update:

An emailer sums up the situation nicely:

So, let me see if I get this straight. The Congress issues subpoenas to former [and current] Bush officials to testify about administration conduct. Said officials ignore the subpoenas. Nothing happens.

Administration, via grand jury, issues subpoena, Risen is threatened with jail.

What’s wrong with this picture?

That’s rather accurate.

This is one of the few points from Greenwald with which I disagree. Anyone, whether a resident of Texas or not, can file a grievance against Harriet E. Miers. Furthermore, if you are an attorney licensed by the Texas Bar Association, you have an ethical obligation to report misconduct. Rule 8.03 Reporting Professional Misconduct, Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct (large .pdf file).

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States

UPDATED JUNE 5, 2008:

This page is not current.  Please go to my State Bar Links page for the updated list.

Thank you for visiting the Grievance Project.

E.M.

Alabama

Bar Home Page: Alabama State Bar

Main Grievance Page: Alabama Office of the General Counsel

Ethics Rules: Alabama Rules of Disciplinary Procedure
Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: Complaint Against a Lawyer (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Alabama Membership Directory

Alaska

Bar Home Page: Alaska Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: Alaska Bar Association Ethics & Discipline

Ethics Rules: Alaska Rules of Professional Conduct
Alaska Bar Rules Part II – Rules of Disciplinary Enforcement

Complaint Form: Attorney Grievance Form – Alaska Bar Association (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Alaska Bar Association Membership Directory

Arizona

Bar Home Page: State Bar of Arizona

Main Grievance Page: How the Lawyer Discipline Process Works

Ethics Rules: Rules of the Supreme Court of Arizona – Regulation of the Practice of Law

Complaint Form: Discipline proceedings are initiated by submitting to the State Bar a written complaint about a lawyer’s conduct or by sending information to the State Bar that indicates a lawyer may have engaged in misconduct or may be incapacitated. Complaints should be mailed to:

State Bar of Arizona, 4201 N. 24th Street, Suite 200, Phoenix, AZ 85016-6288.

Attorney Search: State Bar of Arizona – Find a Lawyer
State Bar of Arizona – Member Finder

Arkansas

Bar Home Page: Arkansas Judiciary

Main Grievance Page: Arkansas Judiciary Committee/Office on Professional Conduct

Ethics Rules: Procedures of the Arkansas Supreme Court Regulating Professional Conduct of Attorneys at Law
Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: Arkansas Supreme Court Committee on Professional Conduct (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Arkansas Licensed Attorney Search

California

Bar Home Page: State Bar of California

Main Grievance Page: State Bar of California – Registering a Complaint

Ethics Rules: California Rules of Professional Conduct – 2007
California Rules of Professional Conduct – 2007 (.pdf)
California State Bar Act – 2007

Complaint Form: California Attorney Complaint Form

Attorney Search: California Attorney/Member Search

Colorado

Bar Home Page: Colorado Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: California Supreme Court – Offices of Attorney Regulation

Ethics Rules: Colorado Rules of Procedure Regarding Attorney Discipline
Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: To file a complaint, contact the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel by calling (303) 866-6400, or toll free 1-877-888-1370. Please do not file a complaint in writing before contacting the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel by telephone. You will be informed if written information is helpful in evaluating your complaint. When you call the office regarding a complaint, you will be connected to the central intake division. A non-lawyer, support-staff person in the central intake division will initially question you regarding your allegations. The complaint will then be assigned for investigation by an attorney in the central intake division. Either the assigned attorney or a non-lawyer investigator will contact you regarding your complaint as soon as possible. When filing a complaint please have the following information available: Your full name, address and phone number; Attorney’s full name, registration number, address, law firm, and phone number; Date of occurrence and date of your awareness; Court location and case numbers (if you have a court case).

Attorney Search: Colorado Attorney Status and Disciplinary History
Colorado Attorney Disciplinary (only) History

Connecticut

Bar Home Page: Connecticut Bar Association (Voluntary)

Grievance Authority Page:State of Connecticut Judicial Branch (Mandatory)

Main Grievance Page: Connecticut Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel

Ethics Rules: Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct (.pdf)

Brochure: Attorney Grievance Procedures in Connecticut (.pdf)

Complaint Form: Connecticut Complaint Against Attorney (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Connecticut Attorney/Firm Inquiry

Delaware

Bar Home Page: Delaware State Bar Association (Voluntary)

Main Grievance Page: Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of Delaware

Ethics Rules: Delaware Lawyer’s Rules of Professional Conduct with Comments (.pdf)
Delaware Lawyer’s Rules of Disciplinary Procedure

Complaint Form: Delaware Confidential Complaint Form (.pdf)
Delaware Confidential Complaint Form

Attorney Search: None

Florida

Bar Home Page: The Florida Bar

Main Grievance Page: Inquiry Concerning a Florida Lawyer

Ethics Rules: Florida Rules of Professional Conduct
Florida Rules of Discipline

Complaint Form: The Florida Bar Inquiry/Complaint Form

Attorney Search: Florida Find a Lawyer

Georgia

Bar Home Page: State Bar of Georgia

Main Grievance Page: State Bar of Georgia Ethics

Ethics Rules: Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct and Enforcement Thereof
Georgia Disciplinary Proceeding Rules

Complaint Form: State Bar of Georgia Consumer Assistance Program Intake Form

Attorney Search: State Bar of Georgia Member Directory Search

Hawai’i

Bar Home Page: Hawai’i State Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: Hawai’i State Judiciary Office of Disciplinary Counsel

Ethics Rules: Hawai’i Rules of Professional Conduct
Disciplinary Rules of the Rules of Supreme Court of the State of Hawai’i

Complaint Form: No form available. Send written complaints to Carole R. Richelie, Supreme Court of Hawaii, Office of Disciplinary Counsel, 1164 Bishop Street, Suite 600, Honolulu, HI 96813, Phone: (808) 521-4591, Fax: (808) 545-2719.

Attorney Search: Hawai’i Judiciary list of Active Lawyers
Hawai’i Judiciary List of Inactive, Suspended, Disbarred or Resigned Lawyers

Idaho

Bar Home Page: Idaho State Bar & Idaho Law Foundation, Inc.

Main Grievance Page: Answers to Common Questions on Filing a Complaint against an Idaho Attorney

Ethics Rules: Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct (.pdf format)
Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct (Word format)

Complaint Form: Idaho Complaint Processing Procedure (contains Idaho Complaint Form) (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Idaho Attorney Roster Search

Illinois

Bar Home Page: Illinois State Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: Attorney registration & Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois

Ethics Rules: Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct
Illinois Rules on Admission & Discipline of Attorneys

Complaint Form: Request for Investigation of a Lawyer Form

Attorney Search: Illinois Lawyer Search

Indiana

Bar Home Page: Indiana State Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission

Ethics Rules: Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct
Rule 23 (Disciplinary Commission and Proceedings) – Admission and Discipline Rules

Complaint Form: Indiana Request for Investigation (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Indiana Supreme Court Roll of Attorneys

Iowa

Bar Home Page: Iowa State Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: Iowa Judicial Branch Professional Regulation

Ethics Rules: Iowa Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Discipline Board Complaint Form
Iowa Supreme Court Attorney Discipline Board Complaint Form (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Iowa Judicial Branch Search for Lawyers Licensed in Iowa

Kansas

Bar Home Page: Kansas Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: Office of Kansas Disciplinary Administrator

Ethics Rules: Kansas Judicial Branch Rules Adopted by the Supreme Court – Discipline of Attorneys

Complaint Form: Office of the Disciplinary Administrator Complaint Form

Attorney Search: To check the status of a Kansas attorney, call or e-mail the Attorney Registration Office: Kansas Attorney Registration, Kansas Judicial Center, 301 SW. 10th Avenue, Room 374, Topeka, KS 66612, phone: (785) 296-8409, fax: (785) 296-1028 or e-mail: registration@kscourts.org

Kentucky

Bar Home Page: Kentucky Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: Kentucky Bar Association Complaints Against Lawyers

Ethics Rules: Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: Kentucky Bar Association Office of Bar Counsel Complaint Form

Attorney Search: Kentucky Lawyer Locator

Louisiana

Bar Home Page: Louisiana State Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: The Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board

Ethics Rules: Louisiana Ethics Decisions, Rules of Professional Conduct and Procedural Rules for Disciplinary Board

Complaint Form: Option 1: Louisiana Attorney Discipline Board Ethical Conduct Complaint (.pdf) (Complaint includes a confidentiality clause)

Option 2: By writing a letter to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel including your name, address and telephone number. Describe what the lawyer did or failed to do and include all important information, including attorney name, address, phone numbers and dates of events. If letters, agreements or other documents are available, submit them to the ODC.

Attorney Search: Louisiana State Bar Association Membership Directory Active Member Search

Maine

Bar Home Page: Maine State Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: Attorney Complaints to the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar Attorney

Ethics Rules: Maine Bar Rules

Complaint Form: Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar Grievance Complaint

Attorney Search: Maine Attorney Information Search

Maryland

Bar Home Page: Maryland State Bar Association (Voluntary)

Grievance Authority Page: Maryland Judiciary (Mandatory)

Main Grievance Page: Filing a Complaint Against an Attorney in Maryland

Ethics Rules: Michie’s Legal Resources – Maryland Code and Rules

Complaint Form: Form Complaint of the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland (Word format)
Form Complaint of the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Maryland Judiciary Attorney Listing

Massachusetts

Bar Home Page: Massachusetts Bar Association (Voluntary)

Grievance Authority Page: Board of Bar Overseers and Office of the Bar Counsel

Main Grievance Page: How to File a Complaint in Massachusetts

Ethics Rules: Massachusetts Supreme Court Rule 3:07 – Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct
Massachusetts Supreme Court Rule 4:01 – Massachusetts Bar Discipline
Rules of the Board of Bar Overseers

Complaint Form: There is no complaint form. Submit, in writing, the facts surrounding your complaint, including dates, the nature of the legal matter, specific information about ethical violations of the lawyer, and copies of any documents, including a fee agreement, court papers, letters or notes, that support the complaint. DO NOT SEND ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS. Send complaint to: Office of the Bar Counsel, 99 High Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02110

Attorney Search: Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers Attorney Search by Name or City

Michigan

Bar Home Page: State Bar of Michigan

Grievance Authority Page: State of Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission

Grievance Authority Page: Michigan Attorney Discipline Board

Main Grievance Page: How to File a Request for investigation with the Attorney Grievance Commission

Ethics Rules: Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: Request for Investigation of an Attorney to the Attorney Grievance Commission

Attorney Search: State Bar of Michigan Member Directory

Minnesota

Bar Home Page: Minnesota State Bar Association (Voluntary)

Grievance Authority Page: Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board & Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility

Main Grievance Page: Filing a Complaint Against a Lawyer in Minnesota

Ethics Rules: Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct and Rules on Lawyers Professional Responsibility

Complaint Form: Minnesota Complaint Brochure, Directions, Forms (text & .pdf formats) and Ethics Flowchart

Attorney Search: Minnesota Lawyer Public Discipline Search
Minnesota Judicial Branch Lawyer Search

Mississippi

Bar Home Page: The Mississippi Bar

Main Grievance Page: The Mississippi Bar Complaint Procedure

Ethics Rules: Mississippi Rules of Professional Responsibility

Complaint Form: To request a Complaint Form, e-mail gwaddle@msbar.org. You must provide a mailing address because forms are available by mail only and will not be faxed or e-mailed.

Attorney Search: Mississippi Attorney Directory

Missouri

Bar Home Page: The Missouri Bar

Grievance Authority Page: Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel of Missouri

Main Grievance Page: How to File a Complaint Against an Attorney in Missouri

Ethics Rules: Rule 4 – Rule of Professional Conduct – of the Missouri Court Rules
Rule 5 – Complaints and Proceedings Thereon – of the Missouri Court Rules

Complaint Form: Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel Complaint Form (.HTML format)
Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel Complaint Form (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Official Missouri Directory of Lawyers

Montana

Bar Home Page: State Bar of Montana

Grievance Authority Page: State of Montana’s Judicial Branch

Main Grievance Page: Montana Attorney Complaints and Lawyer Discipline

Ethics Rules: Montana Rules of Professional Conduct

Montana Rules for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement

Complaint Form: Office of Disciplinary Counsel – State of Montana Complaint Cover Sheet
Office of Disciplinary Counsel – State of Montana Complaint Cover Sheet (.pdf)

Nebraska

Bar Home Page: Nebraska State Bar Association

Grievance Authority Page: Nebraska Judicial Branch

Main Grievance Page: How to File a Grievance in Nebraska

Ethics Rules: Nebraska Rules of Professional Conduct (.pdf)

Nebraska Disciplinary Rules

Complaint Form: Letters detailing the grievance should be sent to: Dennis Carlson, Counsel for Discipline, 3808 Normal Blvd., Lincoln, NE 68506

Attorney Search: Nebraska Lawyer Search

Nevada

Bar Home Page: State Bar of Nevada

Main Grievance Page: State Bar of Nevada Ethics Discussion

Ethics Rules: Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: No form available. To file a complaint, send letter via U.S. Mail or fax (e-mail not accepted) to the closest State Bar address listed below. The complaint letter should contain at least the following information:

  1. A brief description of the nature of the case the attorney was engaged to handle and which attorney you are complaining of.
  2. A chronological review of those events, actions, or conversations between you and the named attorney which led you to conclude that the attorney has conducted himself improperly.
  3. Copies of letters or documents which serve as material evidence of the allegations you have raised against the attorney.
  4. The names, addresses and phone numbers of those persons who have direct knowledge of the allegations you have raised.
  5. A brief description of why you believe the attorney’s actions are improper.
  6. An acknowledgment of whether you have attempted to first resolve this matter by contacting the attorney directly.

Southern Nevada: State Bar of Nevada Office of Bar Counsel, 600 E Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89104

Northern Nevada: State Bar of Nevada Office of Bar Counsel, 9456 Double R Blvd. Suite B, Reno, NV 89521

Attorney Search: Nevada Find-A-Lawyer

New Hampshire

Bar Home Page: New Hampshire Bar Association

Grievance Authority Page: Judicial Branch of the State of New Hampshire

Main Grievance Page: Judicial Branch of the State of New Hampshire Attorney Discipline System

Ethics Rules: New Hampshire Court Rules

Complaint Form: Grievance: “Grievance” means a written submission filed with the committee to call to its attention conduct that the grievant believes may constitute misconduct by an attorney-respondent. Committee: “Committee” means committee on professional conduct or any successor committee designated to receive and investigate complaints against attorneys. Deliver to Landya B. McCafferty, Disciplinary Counsel, The Supreme Court Attorney Discipline Office, 4 Park Street, Suite 304, Concord, NH 03301, 603/224-5828, FAX: 603/228-9511

Attorney Search: New Hampshire Member Directory for HHBA members – Requires password
New Hampshire Member Directory for the Public – Under construction

New Jersey

Bar Home Page: New Jersey State Bar Association (Voluntary)

Grievance Authority Page: New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics

Main Grievance Page: New Jersey Judiciary Attorney Discipline

Ethics Rules: New Jersey Rules of Professional Conduct
Rule 1:20 – Discipline of Members of the Bar

Complaint Form: New Jersey Attorney Ethics Grievance Form (.pdf)

Attorney Search: No general member directory available

Disciplinary Histories from 1990 through last calendar year

New Mexico

Bar Home Page: State Bar of New Mexico

Grievance Authority Page: The Disciplinary Board of New Mexico

Main Grievance Page: If you have a problem with a lawyer in New Mexico

Ethics Rules: New Mexico Statutes and Court Rules Unannotated

Complaint Form: Form for Complaint Against a Lawyer in New Mexico

Attorney Search: State Bar of New Mexico Attorney/Firm_Finder

New York

Bar Home Page: New York State Bar Association (Voluntary)

Grievance Authority Page: New York State Unified Court System

Main Grievance Page: New York State Unified Court System Attorney Grievance Committees

Ethics Rules: New York Disciplinary Rules

Complaint Form: Each Complaint relating to alleged misconduct of an attorney shall be in writing and subscribed by the Complainant and shall contain a concise statement of the facts upon which the Complaint is based. Verification of the Complaint shall not be required. If necessary the Office of Chief Counsel will assist the Complainant in reducing the Grievance to writing. The Complaint shall be deemed filed when received by the Office of Chief Counsel. File the complaint with the Department in which the attorney maintains an office.

Attorney Search: New York Attorney Search

North Carolina

Bar Home Page: North Carolina Bar Association (Voluntary)

Grievance Authority Page: North Carolina State Bar

Main Grievance Page: Filing a Complaint in North Carolina

Ethics Rules: North Carolina State Bar Rules and Regulations

Complaint Form: Grievance Committee of the North Carolina State Bar Complaint Form

Attorney Search: North Carolina State Bar Member Directory

North Dakota

Bar Home Page: State Bar Association of North Dakota

Grievance Authority Page: North Dakota Supreme Court

Main Grievance Page: Complaints Against Lawyers in North Dakota

Ethics Rules: North Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct
North Dakota Rules for Lawyer Discipline

Complaint Form: File a complaint against an attorney with the Disciplinary Board by mailing a signed, dated and detailed complaint to Penny Miller, Clerk of the Supreme Court, 600 E. Boulevard Ave., Dept. 180, Bismarck, ND 58505-0530.

Attorney Search: North Dakota Lawyers Directory

Ohio

Bar Home Page: Ohio State Bar Association (Voluntary)

Grievance Authority Page: Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline of the Supreme Court of Ohio

Main Grievance Page: Office of Disciplinary Counsel

Ethics Rules: Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct
Rule V – Disciplinary Procedure – of the Rules for the Government of Bar of Ohio

Complaint Form: Office of Disciplinary Counsel Complaint Form (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Supreme Court of Ohio Attorney Information Search

Oklahoma

Bar Home Page: Oklahoma Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: Oklahoma Ethics & Professionalism

Ethics Rules: Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: Oklahoma Bar Association Grievance Form

Attorney Search: Oklahoma Bar Association Attorney Search

Oregon

Bar Home Page: Oregon State Bar

Main Grievance Page: Oregon State Bar Discipline

Ethics Rules: Oregon Rules of Professional Conduct (.pdf)
Oregon Rules of (Disciplinary) Procedure (.pdf)

Complaint Form: Oregon State Bar Complaint Form

Attorney Search: Oregon State Bar Membership Directory

Pennsylvania

Bar Home Page: Pennsylvania Bar Association (Voluntary)

Grievance Authority Page: The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania

Main Grievance Page: The Disciplinary Board Consumer Information

Ethics Rules: Pennsylvania Ethics Rules

Complaint Form: The Disciplinary Board Complaint Forms

Attorney Search: Pennsylvania Attorney Inquiry Search

Rhode Island

Bar Home Page: Rhode Island Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: Judiciary of Rhode Island Disciplinary Board

Ethics Rules: Rhode Island Rules of Professional Conduct (.pdf)

Complaint Form: The Disciplinary Board of Rhode Island Complaint Form

Attorney Search: Rhode Island Member Directory Search

South Carolina

Bar Home Page: South Carolina Bar

Grievance Authority Page: South Carolina Supreme Court Office of Disciplinary Counsel

Main Grievance Page: How to File a Complaint in South Carolina

Ethics Rules: South Carolina Rules

Complaint Form: There is no complaint form. File a written complaint, signed by the person making the complaint, containing as much detail as possible about what took place and the reason for the complaint, copies of any documents that support your complaint. the full identity of the lawyer and a full address and phone number where the person making the complaint can be reached. Mail your complaint letter to:

The Commission on Lawyer Conduct
Post Office Box 12159
Columbia, South Carolina 29211

Attorney Search: South Carolina Bar Member Directory

South Dakota

Bar Home Page: State Bar of South Dakota

Main Grievance Page: South Dakota Lawyer Discipline

Ethics Rules: South Dakota Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: There is no complaint form. Mail a signed written complaint, fully describing all the facts and all sources of information, including names, dates, addresses, and copies of supporting documentation to: Disciplinary Board, The State Bar of South Dakota, 222 E. Capitol, Pierre, SD 57501.

Attorney Search: South Dakota Lawyer Referral

Tennessee

Bar Home Page: Tennessee Bar Association

Grievance Authority Page: Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee

Main Grievance Page: Filing a Complaint with the Board or Professional Responsibility

Ethics Rules: Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: Tennessee Memorandum of Complaint (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Tennessee Bar Association Attorney Search
Online Attorney Directory of the Board of Professional Responsibility

Texas

Bar Home Page: State Bar of Texas

Main Grievance Page: Texas Client Assistance & Grievance

Ethics Rules: Texas Procedural and Professional Conduct Rules

Complaint Form: Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel Grievance Form (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Texas Member Directory

Utah

Bar Home Page: Utah State Bar

Main Grievance Page: Utah State Bar Office of Professional Conduct

Ethics Rules: Utah Court Rules

Complaint Form: Utah State Bar Consumer Assistance Program Request Form

Attorney Search: Utah State Bar Attorney & Associate Member Directory Service

Vermont

Bar Home Page: Vermont Bar Association (Voluntary)

Grievance Authority Page: Vermont Judiciary

Main Grievance Page: Vermont Professional Responsibility Board

Brochure: Information Concerning Complaint Procedures and Discipline of Attorneys

Ethics Rules: Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: There is no complaint form. Mail written and signed complaints, including the complainant’s mailing address, an email address if available, and a daytime telephone number, to:

Office of Disciplinary Counsel
Professional Responsibility Program
32 Cherry Street – Suite 213
Burlington, Vermont 05401-7305

Attorney Search: None

Virginia

Bar Home Page: Virginia Bar Association (.pdf)

Grievance Authority Page: Virginia State Bar

Main Grievance Page: How to File a Misconduct Inquiry About a Lawyer

Ethics Rules: Virginia State Bar 2006-2007 Professional Guidelines

Complaint Form: Virginia State Bar Lawyer Inquiry Form
Virginia State Bar Lawyer Inquiry (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Virginia State Bar (Voluntary) Member Directory
Virginia Attorneys Without Malpractice
Virginia State Bar Disciplined Attorneys

Washington

Bar Home Page: Washington State Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: Ethics Page for the Public

Ethics Rules: Washington State Court Rules: Rules of Professional Conduct
Washington State Court Rules

Complaint Form: Call (206) 727-8207 for preferred (but not required) form. Must be in writing and signed.

Attorney Search: Washington State Bar Association (Voluntary) Lawyer Directory

Washington, D.C.

Bar Home Page: D.C. Bar

Main Grievance Page: When Complaints Arise

Ethics Rules: D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct (effective February 1, 2007)
D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct (effective January 1, 1991 through January 31, 2007)

Complaint Form: D.C. Bar Complaint Forms

Attorney Search: D.C. Bar Member Search

West Virginia

Bar Home Page: West Virginia State Bar Association

Main Grievance Page: West Virginia Office of Disciplinary Counsel

Ethics Rules: West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct

Complaint Form: Complaint Form Before the Lawyer Disciplinary Board

Attorney Search: West Virginia State Bar Association Member Search

Wisconsin

Bar Home Page: State Bar of Wisconsin

Main Grievance Page: Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation

Ethics Rules: Wisconsin Rules Governing Lawyer Conduct

Complaint Form: Grievances can be submitted over the telephone at (608) 267-7274 or (877) 315-6941 (toll free) to file your grievance. Written complaints may also be submitted by using the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation Grievance Form or by letter submitted to:

Office of Lawyer Regulation
110 East Main St., Suite 315
Madison, WI 53703-3383

Attorney Search: State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyer Directory Search

Wyoming

Bar Home Page: Wyoming State Bar

Main Grievance Page: Wyoming State Bar Ethical Violations

Ethics Rules: Wyoming Court Rules

Complaint Form: Complaint Before the Board of Professional Responsibility (.pdf)

Attorney Search: Wyoming State Bar Membership Directory

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