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The role of the OCTC in processing complaints against lawyers

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | Professional License Defense |

California is the only state with a State Bar Court to try cases of lawyer misconduct. The prosecutor in these cases is the Chief Trial Counsel, whose office is responsible for investigating and prosecuting these types of complaints.

For lawyers whose reputations and careers are on the line, it is important to understand the OCTC’s process.

Intake and review of complaints

When someone files a complaint, the OCTC carefully examines the allegations to determine if they warrant further investigation. This initial review ensures that the office handles complaints efficiently and fairly.

Investigation process

If the OCTC determines that a complaint might be credible, it will initiate an investigation into the alleged misconduct. During this process, the OCTC gathers evidence, interviews witnesses and reviews relevant documents to determine the facts of the case. This thorough investigation helps officials to make informed decisions about how to proceed.

Disciplinary proceedings

After completing its investigation, the OCTC may recommend any of the following disciplinary actions that it deems appropriate:

  • Dismissal
  • Private or public reproval
  • Probation
  • Suspension
  • Disbarment

The recommendation depends on the seriousness of the misconduct and the legal professional’s prior disciplinary history, if any.

Resolution and enforcement

Once the OCTC has recommended a course of action, it seeks to resolve the case through a formal hearing process. At the hearing, the legal professional has the opportunity to respond to the allegations and present evidence in self-defense.

After the panel issues its decision, the accused lawyer has the right to appeal the decision to the State Bar Court Review Department. The decision becomes final without an appeal, and the accused must suffer any disciplinary actions.


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