27 NCAC 01B .0204 PROCEDURE UPON INSTITUTION OF A GRIEVANCE
(a) Receipt of Grievance ‑ A grievance may be filed by any person against a member of the North Carolina State Bar. Such grievance must be in writing and signed by the complaining person. A district grievance committee may, however, investigate matters which come to its attention during the investigation of a grievance, whether or not such matters are included in the original written grievance.
(b) Acknowledgment of Receipt of Grievance from State Bar ‑ The chairperson of the district grievance committee shall send a letter to the complainant within 10 working days of receipt of the grievance from the State Bar, acknowledging that a grievance file has been set up. The acknowledgment letter shall include the name of the district grievance committee member assigned to investigate the matter and shall follow the format set out in Rule .0213 of this subchapter. A copy of the letter shall be sent contemporaneously to the office of counsel of the State Bar.
(c) Notice to State Bar of Locally Filed Grievances
(1) Where a grievance is filed in the first instance with the district grievance committee, the chairperson of the district grievance committee shall notify the office of counsel of the State Bar of the name of the complainant, respondent attorney, file number and nature of the grievance within 10 working days of receipt of the grievance.
(2) The chairperson of the district grievance committee shall send a letter to the complainant within 10 working days of receipt of the grievance, acknowledging that a grievance file has been set up. The acknowledgment letter shall include the name of the district grievance committee member assigned to investigate the matter and shall follow the format set out in Rule .0213 of this subchapter.
(3) Grievances filed initially with the district grievance committee shall be assigned a local file number which shall be used to refer to the grievance. The first two digits of the file number shall indicate the year in which the grievance was filed, followed by the number of the judicial district, the letters GR, and ending with the number of the file. File numbers shall be assigned sequentially during the calendar year, beginning with the number 1. For example, the first locally filed grievance set up in the 10th judicial district in 1994 would bear the following number: 9410GR001.
(d) Assignment to Investigating Member ‑ Within 10 working days after receipt of a grievance, the chairperson shall appoint a member of the district grievance committee to investigate the grievance and shall forward the relevant materials to the investigating member. The letter to the investigating member shall follow the format set out in Rule .0214 of this subchapter.
(e) Investigation of the Grievance
(1) The investigating member shall attempt to contact the complainant as soon as possible but no later than 15 working days after receiving notice of the assignment. If the initial contact with the complainant is made in writing, the letter shall follow the format set out in Rule .0215 of this subchapter.
(2) The investigating member shall have the authority to contact other witnesses or individuals who may have information about the subject of the grievance, including the respondent.
(3) The failure of the complainant to cooperate shall not cause a grievance to be dismissed or abated. Once filed, grievances shall not be dismissed or abated upon the request of the complainant.
(f) Letter of Notice to Respondent Attorney and Responses
(1) Within 10 working days after receipt of a grievance, the chairperson of the district grievance committee shall send a copy of the grievance and a letter of notice to the respondent attorney. The letter to the respondent attorney shall follow the form set out in Rule .0216 of this subchapter and shall be sent by U.S. Mail to the attorney's last known address on file with the State Bar. The letter of notice shall request the respondent to reply to the investigating attorney in writing within 15 days after receipt of the letter of notice.
(2) A substance of grievance will be provided to the district grievance committee by the State Bar at the time the file is assigned to the committee. The substance of grievance will summarize the nature of the complaint against the respondent attorney and cite the applicable provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct, if any.
(3) The respondent attorney shall respond in writing to the letter of notice from the district grievance committee within 15 days of receipt of the letter. The chairperson of the district grievance committee may allow a longer period for response, for good cause shown.
(4) If the respondent attorney fails to respond in a timely manner to the letter of notice, the chairperson of the district grievance committee may seek the assistance of the State Bar to issue a subpoena or take other appropriate steps to ensure a proper and complete investigation of the grievance. District grievance committees do not have authority to issue a subpoena to a witness or respondent attorney.
(5) Unless necessary to complete its investigation, the district grievance committee should not release copies of the respondent attorney's response to the grievance to the complainant. The investigating attorney may summarize the response for the complainant orally or in writing.
(g) District Grievance Committee Deliberations
(1) Upon completion of the investigation, the investigating member shall promptly report his or her findings and recommendations to the district grievance committee in writing.
(2) The district grievance committee shall consider the submissions of the parties, the information gathered by the investigating attorney and such other material as it deems relevant in reaching a recommendation. The district grievance committee may also make further inquiry as it deems appropriate, including investigating other facts and possible violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct discovered during its investigation.
(3) The district grievance committee shall make a determination as to whether or not it finds that there is probable cause to believe that the respondent violated one or more provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
(h) Report of Committee's Decision
(1) Upon making a decision in a case, the district grievance committee shall submit a written report to the office of counsel, including its recommendation and the basis for its decision. The original file and grievance materials of the investigating attorney shall be sent to the State Bar along with the report. The letter from the district bar grievance committee enclosing the report shall follow the format set out in Rule .0217 of this subchapter.
(2) The district grievance committee shall submit its written report to the office of counsel no later than 180 days after the grievance is initiated or received by the district committee. The State Bar may recall any grievance file which has not been investigated and considered by a district grievance committee within 180 days after the matter is assigned to the committee. The State Bar may also recall any grievance file for any reason.
(3) Within 10 working days of submitting the written report and returning the file to the office of counsel, the chairperson of the district grievance committee shall notify the respondent attorney and the complainant in writing of the district grievance committee's recommendation, as provided in Rule .0202(d)(6) of this subchapter.
History Note: Authority G.S. 84‑23;
Readopted Eff. December 8, 1994.