On Monday, March 24, 2014, the Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In re People v. Kanwal.
Rules of Procedure Regarding Attorney Discipline and Disability Proceedings—CRCP 251.12.
The People petitioned for relief pursuant to CRCP 251.1(d) and CAR 21 from an order of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge (PDJ) dismissing for lack of subject matter jurisdiction a claim of attorney misconduct. The PDJ concluded that the People were not authorized to plead, and the Hearing Board lacked jurisdiction to consider, any claim for the filing of which the Attorney Regulation Committee had not given specific approval. Because it was undisputed that the Committee had not specifically approved the filing of a claim for the violation of Rule 8.4(c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the PDJ dismissed Claim III in the People’s complaint alleging a violation of that rule.
The Supreme Court made the rule absolute and remanded the matter with instructions to reinstate Claim III, because it was undisputed that the conduct giving rise to the grounds alleged in this claim was conduct specifically addressed in the report of investigation presented to the Committee, as a result of which it authorized proceedings for public discipline. Because the Rules of Procedure Regarding Attorney Discipline and Disability Proceedings contemplate merely the Committee’s authorization for the initiation of formal proceedings before a tribunal capable of administering public discipline, rather than mandating the Committee’s approval of the specific claims to be filed, including the identification of precise rule violations, the PDJ misinterpreted the controlling rules.
Summary and full case available here.