GRIEVANCE INFORMATION & INSTRUCTIONS

Filing a grievance.
The Certified Grievance Committee of the Belmont County Bar Association has been given authority by the Supreme Court of Ohio to investigate grievances against attorneys who are members of the Belmont County Bar Association in matters which arise in Belmont County, Ohio.  Accordingly, the Belmont County Bar Association limits its investigation to such attorneys.  The Grievance Committee is made up of no less than fifteen (15) members of the Belmont County Bar Association whose respective term does not exceed two consecutive years. Matters which arise in other counties may be directed to the local bar association in that county, to the Ohio State Bar Association of 1700 Lake Shore Drive, P.O. Box 16562, Columbus, OH 43216-6562 or the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Supreme Court of Ohio 250 Civic Center Drive, Suite 325, Columbus OH 43215.  You have the option of filing your grievance against such attorneys with this office or:

The Ohio State Bar Association
1700 Lake Shore Drive
P.O. Box 16562
Columbus, Ohio 43216-6562
1.800.282.6556

or

The Office of Disciplinary Counsel
250 Civic Center Drive, Ste. 325, Columbus, Ohio 43215-7411
1.800.589.5256

The Belmont County Bar Association does not investigate grievances against judges or magistrates.  It also does not investigate grievances against members of the Belmont County Certified Grievance Committee.  You may file a grievance against a magistrate, judge or a member of the Belmont County Certified Grievance Committee with either the Ohio State Bar Association or the Office of Disciplinary Counsel at the above listed addresses.

If you choose to file a grievance with the Belmont County Bar Association you can do it in one of two ways.  First, you can print out, complete and submit to the Belmont County Certified Grievance Committee the attached Grievance Investigation Request Form.  Second, you can complete the Grievance Investigation Request Form online and submit it online to the Belmont County Certified Grievance Committee. Please state in your own words what you think the attorney did that was unethical or unprofessional and indicate how or why you chose this attorney. 

Your written statement will be reviewed to determine if it contains allegations which, if proven, would constitute professional misconduct under the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.  Note that the authority of the Belmont County Bar Association is limited to the investigation of grievances arising under the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.  The Belmont County Bar Association has no authority to change any decisions by a court of law or to interfere with ongoing proceedings. 

Explanation & Summary of the Grievance Process.
A grievance sent to the Belmont County Bar Association’s certified grievance committee shall be reviewed in the order it was received to determine whether the grievance alleges a violation of the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.  You will receive a written response to your grievance with a few weeks.

The authority of the Belmont County Certified Grievance Committee is limited to the investigation of attorney misconduct which would be in violation of the specific Disciplinary Rules which are included in the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.  The Belmont County Bar Association has no authority to investigate other behavior by an attorney which the public may view as “unethical,” but which is not covered by the Disciplinary Rules.  A fee dispute between you and your attorney usually cannot be investigated by the Belmont County Certified Grievance Committee because most fee disputes do not involve professional misconduct.  Fees are a matter of contract between the attorney and the client and the Belmont County Bar Association is not a party to that contract.  If you have a fee dispute with your attorney, the Belmont County Bar Association and its Certified Grievance Committee are unable to assist you. You should contact another attorney for advice.

There are several important limitations on how and when the Belmont County Bar Association can take action in response to your allegations against an attorney.  First, neither the Belmont County Bar Association nor its Certified Grievance Committee can act as a court of appeals.  It cannot overrule any decisions that have been made by a court.  The Belmont County Bar Association cannot change the outcome of your case or redeem your losses, whether monetary or otherwise.  It cannot address an issue which constitute an act of legal malpractice which is not the violation of a disciplinary rule.  The only function of the Belmont County Certified Grievance Committee is to investigate allegations of misconduct and either seek sanctions against the attorney with the Supreme Court of Ohio or to exonerate the attorney when no misconduct is found.

Second, the Belmont County Certified Grievance Committee cannot interfere with ongoing court proceedings.  The grievance process will not be used on behalf of one party in a lawsuit to put unfair pressure upon the other parties to that suit or upon the attorneys who are involved.  The court system is the proper place for the resolution of civil or criminal disputes and the injection of an attorney grievance into court proceedings is disruptive to the court system itself and may unfairly influence an attorney’s representation of his or her client.

Finally, it is important to recognize that the Belmont County Bar Association and its Certified Grievance Committee cannot give you legal advice or represent you.  The Grievance Committee’s function is to investigate and seek discipline for attorney misconduct.  A person with a legal problem should consult an attorney and cannot rely on the Belmont County Bar Association for legal representation.  You may pursue a cause of action in court against an attorney at the same time that your grievance against the attorney is being investigated by the Grievance Committee.  However, the Grievance Committee will not be representing you and the grievance procedure is separate and distinct from any civil cause of action.  The fact that you have filed a grievance with the Belmont County Bar Association will not affect the time limitations for the proper filing of a civil lawsuit, whether that suit is against your attorney or against anyone else.  The investigation of a grievance by the Belmont County Bar Association will normally take 60-90 days.

The Grievance Committee operates under the rules adopted by the Supreme Court of Ohio which are designed to protect the public from attorney misconduct and to uphold the integrity of the Bar.  It is the goal of the Grievance Committee members to thoroughly investigate allegations of attorney misconduct in a manner that is fair to both the accused attorney and to the interest of the public.

If a possible violation is found, a copy of your grievance will be provided to the attorney who will then be required to respond to the allegations.  If there is evidence that supports the allegation of a violation, the grievance will be investigated.  Following the investigation, if substantial, credible evidence is found that a violation has occurred, a formal complaint will be filed with the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline.  A three-member panel of the Board will review the complaint and determine whether probable cause exists to certify it.  If the complaint is certified by the Board, a hearing is then held before a different three-member panel of the Board.  The panel considers the evidence and makes a recommendation to the full Board of Commissioners.  The full Board then makes a recommendation to the Supreme Court of Ohio.  The Court has final say on whether to discipline an attorney or judge and what sanction should be administered.  A grievance is confidential until the Board certifies it as a formal complaint.  A grievance or complaint can be dismissed at any point in the process.

For questions or assistance:
If you have additional questions or need assistance, please call the Belmont County Bar Association Certified Grievance Committee at 740-310-5147.

The information contained in this site was valid at the time of posting. The Belmont County Bar Association assumes no liability for damages incurred directly as a result of errors, omissions or discrepancies. Moreover the Belmont County Bar Association is not responsible for the content nor endorses any site which has a link from this site.
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