Date: October 7, 2003 Contact: Laura Kiernan

Court Information Officer

603-271-2646 x359

MEDIA ADVISORY

LAWYERS, GENERAL PUBLIC NEEDED FOR NEW

ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE SYSTEM

CONCORD—Lawyers and members of the general public are needed for a new "Attorney Discipline System" which has been designed to substantially improve the efficiency of the process for evaluating complaints against New Hampshire lawyers.

"This work is a public service for clients, who deserve protection, and for lawyers, who are entitled to a full and fair hearing of complaints against them," said Supreme Court Chief Justice David A. Brock. "We encourage lawyers, and members of the public, who recognize the enormous importance of this effort, to volunteer their time to help," Brock said.

The Supreme Court approved the new system in August in response to concern that the increasing complexity and volume of materials involved in the attorney discipline process required changes that would spread out the work among volunteer members and improve efficiency.

Under the new system, effective January 1, 2004, the state’s longstanding Professional Conduct Committee (PCC), which was created by the Supreme Court in 1974, will only consider cases referred to them after review by newly created screening and hearing committees. Under the current system, the PCC, composed of lawyers and members of the public, process all cases, from filing to disposition.

The two new committees, as well as the PCC, will be composed of lawyers and members of the public.

Starting in January, complaints against lawyers will be filed with a new "Attorney Discipline Office" whose general counsel and staff will evaluate each complaint and prepare a report for a screening committee. A new, full-time "disciplinary counsel" will present cases when necessary to new, hearing committee panels which will report their findings to the PCC for disposition.

Further information about the work and responsibilities of each of the committees, and an application for membership, is available at www.courts.state.nh.us.

Applications should be submitted by November 10, 2003 to James L. DeHart, New Hampshire Supreme Court Professional Conduct Committee, 4 Park Street, Suite 304, Concord, N.H. 03301.

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