The State Bar Association of North Dakota Fall 2014 Gavel Magazine - Page 17

years since the last review. The advent of technology and the fastmoving changes occurring to our state’s economy necessitated a thorough look at the disciplinary system. On perhaps the coldest days in January, an ABA Consultation Team interviewed Court staff, Disciplinary Counsel and his staff, complainants, respondents, and the lawyers who represent them. The team also interviewed the current and incoming leadership of SBAND and staff. On the final day if its consultation, the team met with members of the North Dakota Supreme Court. The resulting North Dakota Report on the Lawyer Discipline System includes 12 recommendations to make the system more accessible to the public, streamlined in the handling of cases and efficient through the use of technology. I expect that many will welcome the changes that will make the system more open and technologically efficient. However, the recommended structural changes will give Disciplinary Counsel more investigative authority and discretion in the handling of cases. Some of the ABA Report recommendations include the following: • Amend the Rules of Lawyer Discipline to make Disciplinary Counsel responsible for screening and investigating all complaints. • Eliminate three regional Inquiry Committees and create one statewide Inquiry Committee with 15-18 members who act in panels, similar to hearing panels, to make probable cause determinations. • The statewide Inquiry Committee would no longer have authority to admonish a lawyer as that authority would be given to Disciplinary Counsel. • Members of the statewide Inquiry Committee would be appointed by the Supreme Court or the Court-appointed Disciplinary Board, with input from SBAND. Upon receipt of the ABA Report, the Supreme Court referred its consideration to the Joint Committee on Attorney Standards, chaired by District Judge Michael Sturdevant. The Court’s referral requests that temporary members be added to the Committee to assist in review of the report. After its scheduled meeting in November, the expanded Joint Committee will undertake review of the ABA Report in earnest. I encourage SBAND members to review the ABA Report for themselves on the Disciplinary Board webpage at http://www. ndcourts.gov/court/committees/disc_brd/committee.asp. ABA Delegate Change in 2014 As I approach my last year as a member of the Disciplinary Board, SBAND President Jack McDonald asked me to represent our Association as SBAND’s representative to the ABA House of Delegates. I am familiar with the work of the ABA. For many years I have served as an elected member of the American Law Institute. The 1$