As part of
its responsibility to supervise lawyers and its interest in promoting public
confidence in the legal system, the Iowa Supreme Court has established
procedures for addressing complaints about alleged unethical conduct by lawyers.
Two groups assist the court with this important responsibility - the Attorney
Disciplinary Board (the Board) and the Grievance Commission (the Commission).
for reviewing allegations of lawyer misconduct begins with the Board. The
Board, with the help of its staff, investigates all complaints against any Iowa attorney for alleged violations of the Iowa Rules of
Professional Conduct for Lawyers, or the laws of the United
States, the State of Iowa
or any other state or any territory of the United States. Investigations are confidential. Upon
completion of an investigation, the Board shall either dismiss the complaint,
or admonish or reprimand the attorney, or file and prosecute the complaint
before the Commission. If the Board files a reprimand with the clerk of the
supreme court and the attorney does not file an exception to the reprimand, the
reprimand shall be a public document.
Commission hears complaints that are prosecuted by the Board. Complaints shall
be sufficiently clear and specific in their charges to reasonably inform the
attorney of the misconduct alleged to have been committed by the attorney. The
attorney has the right to file an answer to the charge. Matters brought to the
Commission are confidential.
shall hold a hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, The Commission shall
either dismiss the complaint, issue a private admonition, or recommend to the
supreme court that the attorney be reprimanded or the attorney's license to
practice law be suspended or revoked. If the Commission recommends a reprimand
or a suspension or revocation of the attorney's license, the report of such
recommendation is forwarded to the court and filed with the Clerk of the
Supreme Court. Once filed with the
clerk, the matter is a public record. The attorney may file an appeal from the
Commission's report. The court may grant an appeal in a manner similar to an
interlocutory appeal in a civil case. The appeal shall proceed to be heard by
may impose a sanction different from that recommended by the Commission. In the
event the court orders suspension of the attorney's license, the suspension
shall continue for the minimum time ordered and until the court has approved
the attorney's application for reinstatement.
Additional or alternative sanctions may include restitution, costs,
practice limitations, appointment of a trustee or receiver, passage of a bar
examination or the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination,
attendance at continuing legal education courses, or other appropriate
measures. Click here for Court Rules
regarding disciplinary procedures. For more information contact email@example.com
In addition to discipline imposed for
violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Court may discipline
lawyers for the following reasons.
Conviction of a Crime
The Iowa Supreme Court may temporarily
suspend the license of a lawyer who has pled guilty to or been convicted of a
crime. The temporary suspension usually
remains in effect until a final disciplinary disposition is made by the Court
through the Grievance Commission process.
The Iowa Supreme Court may suspend the
license of a lawyer who is incapacitated or unable to discharge professional
duties due to physical, mental, or emotional disability, abandonment of
practice, or disappearance. Upon
suspension of the lawyer's license, a trustee may be appointed to notify the
lawyer's clients and take appropriate action to safeguard the interests of
clients and other affected persons.
When a lawyer licensed to practice law in the
State of Iowa
has been suspended or otherwise disciplined in another jurisdiction, the Iowa
Supreme Court may impose an identical disciplinary sanction on the lawyer
unless he or she shows cause why identical discipline should not be imposed in
Suspension for Failure
to Comply with a Support Order
Upon the filing of a certificate of
noncompliance by the child support recovery unit, a lawyer's license may be
suspended for failure to comply with a child support order.
Failure to Comply with a Student Loan Obligation
Upon the filing of a certificate of
noncompliance by the College Student Aid Commission, a lawyer's license may be
suspended for defaulting on a student loan obligation.
Suspension for Threat of Harm
Pending final disposition of a
disciplinary proceeding, the Iowa Supreme Court may impose an interim
suspension upon finding that a lawyer has committed an ethical violation that
poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public.
Temporary Suspension for Failure to Respond to Board
The Iowa Supreme Court shall
enter an order temporarily suspending an attorney's license if the attorney has
failed to respond to a notice of complaint filed by the disciplinary board.