Helping Attorneys tackle a California State Bar Investigation.
A quick summary of a typical or run-of-the-mill investigation.
INQUIRY LETTERSWhen the Intake Unit of the Office of the Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC) first receives a written complaint, an evaluation of that complaint is completed. That complaint may be closed or an inquiry will begin. The OCTC will assign an inquiry number to the complaint and a State Bar analyst may contact you and ask you for documentation at this stage. If the State Bar determines that the complaint cannot be fully finalized at the inquiry stage, or that professional misconduct is likely, then your "inquiry" can turn into an investigation.
INVESTIGATIONIf the Bar believes that misconduct can be proved, they will forward your file to an investigator in the Enforcement Unit. That investigator will work with a State Bar Deputy Trial Counsel on your particular file. The Investigator may require from you additional and more detailed documentation that was not requested at the inquiry level. They may interview you and/or key witnesses, subpoena documents, etc. The Deputy Trial Counsel will ultimately decide on whether to transfer your case to the pre-filing stage. If the Bar believes your file warrants some sort of discipline then they will draft what is called a notice of disciplinary charges in the State Bar Court.
TRIALS AND APPEALSAfter the investigation and pre-filing stage, the OCTC will either file a Notice of Disciplinary Charge, or a previously agreed upon stipulation in the State Bar Court. In cases where no stipulation has been agreed to, and after disciplinary charges have been filed, a trial will commence in the Hearing Department of the State Bar Court. After trial, either party may appeal the decision to the Review Department of the State Bar Court.