Local Panels play a key role in the grievance process. They decide whether a complaint will be dismissed or whether there is probable cause. A finding of probable cause means (a) that the complaint and proceedings will become public and (b) the respondent will have to spend time and money defending himself.
Until today I had, on occasion, made sporadic but unsuccessful attempts to find the names of members of the Local Panels online. But today I found what I was looking for. Click here. I don’t know why I wasn’t able to find this information previously. One possibility is that it wasn’t posted until fairly recently. According to “view page info” for the Local Panel page, that page was last updated on May 3rd, 2012.
In my experience decisions by Local Panels have been signed by Counsel to the Local Panel, making no reference to the members of the Local Panel responsible for the decision. I always thought this was an odd practice: a decision by an arm of the Superior Court that did not identify the names of the people making the decision.
Checking the identity of Local Panels is important in order to rule out a conflict of interest. Apart from checking for possible conflicts of interest, it is important for the names of people exercising judicial authority to be identified the outset of the grievance process. Imagine litigating case without knowing who the judge is.
An issue related to knowing the identity of Local Panel members is the signing of decisions. I have never seen a decision by a Local Panel that wasn’t signed by Counsel to the Local Panel, making no mention of the members of the panel or how they voted. Time for a change.
On the Statewide Grievance Committee’s home page under the heading Latest News and Updates there is a link to an amendment to the Statewide Grievance Committee’s Rules of Procedure. The amendment is described as (New Rule) 11A Motion To Dismiss By Disciplinary Counsel. The text of the amendment can be found here.
Despite its location under Latest News and Updates, the effective date of Rule 11A was April 12, 2011.