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?

  • 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. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.