Iowa considers less transparency in discipline process

July 26, 2011
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When it comes to disciplinary actions involving professionals – doctors, nurses, lawyers – I am all for as much transparency and access to information as possible. This isn’t just due to the line of work I’m in. I believe in educated consumers, and how can one make an informed choice without knowing their attorney or physician made some bad choices in the past.

When looking to purchase a new camera or visit a specific hotel, people read reviews. Why waste your money on a camera that people say is hard to use or not worth the price? It’s the same principle when shopping for a lawyer – before plunking down a retainer or entering into a contract, as the client, you should have the right to know the attorney was suspended for stealing from a client or whatever reason he or she had been disciplined.

In Iowa, the Supreme Court is considering whether to keep the disciplinary process confidential in exchange for cooperation from the offending attorney. If the attorney agrees that their license should be suspended, the matter could be prevented from being disclosed.

Bad idea.

I should be allowed to know whether I’m dealing with an attorney with a former drug problem or a history of not properly representing clients. Many of the attorneys who are disciplined can recover from the gaffe and move on to have incident-free careers. But there are the repeat offenders who cannot.

Making the process less transparent could also give those attorneys considering breaking the rules less pause to do so. If they know there’s likely no way the public will find out what they did, what’s there to keep them in check?

In Indiana, our process seems more transparent than what’s described in a Des Moines Register article. If you search Indiana’s Roll of Attorneys, you can see whether someone has been disciplined or has pending discipline. While you don’t know the topic of the pending matter, at least you’re aware the attorney may get in trouble for some reason.

What are your thoughts on the Iowa proposal?

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  • Transparency Tradeoff
    Iowa is for sure going in the wrong direction.
    But don't forget that in Indiana, as in most states, transparency only applies when a grievance has made it through several layers of in-house screening.
    This is a tough tradeoff, but probably the correct one. If every grievance is immediately made public, a lawyer can take a hit from a bogus complaint and have a very hard time living it down.
  • dont go there!
    It is most certainly a bad trajectory. Transparency is protection not only for the public but also lawyers. Lawyers need to be protected from bullying for political reasons. The less transparency in the process the less protection for the politically incorrect lawyer who may be bullied into resigning. I am thinking of In re Anastaplo and cases like that.

    Lawyers have a right to free speech too and dont just waive it by applying to the bar.

    And that should not just count for the left.
  • Chaining down the attorneys
    Looks like the Iowa S.Ct. joins another (much closer to us) in viewing all attorneys as its lackeys. All better be ready, willing and able to deny Christ as King -- as I was not -- they want to be attorneys in the Brave New World the elites are building for us (well, some of us).

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  1. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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