Las Vegas Ethics Defense Attorneys
What is the Process of Being Sued for Breach of Ethics in Nevada?
Learning that you are the subject of an ethics complaint can be frightening, stressful, and aggravating, especially if you handle your profession with care and tact. Yet no matter how many matters you successfully address in your capacity as a lawyer or a judge, a single ethics complaint can still do tremendous, irreversible damage to your reputation and career.
You must take any ethics complaint extremely seriously, even if you believe that the allegations are baseless. If a formal complaint is made to the Office of Bar Counsel or Commission on Judicial Discipline, you will be the subject of an investigation and disciplinary proceedings.
Lawyers can face the following types of disciplinary sanctions in Nevada:
- Permanent letters of reprimand with a fine of up to $1,000
- Public and disseminated letters of reprimand
- Suspension of their license to practice law
- Disbarment, which is irrevocable
Judges can face the following types of disciplinary sanctions in Nevada:
- Deferred discipline agreements for minor infractions
- Private admonitions by an investigative panel
- Public reprimand
- Imposition of duties
- Suspension of duties
When you are the subject of an ethics complaint, you will receive formal notice from a prosecutor. You should under no circumstances ignore this notice, no matter how preposterous the underlying complaint. The prosecutor will begin to review the contents of the complaint as well as any evidence the claimant provided. They may also subpoena your records, review court filings, and interview any relevant witnesses.
Why You Need an Ethics Defense Lawyer
You may be tempted to angrily or aggressively respond to the complaint, but doing so will be generally viewed unfavorably and can weaken your case. Instead of responding to a complaint emotionally, you should immediately contact experienced legal representation.
If you are a lawyer, you may wonder if you should represent yourself in the ethics investigation and any disciplinary proceedings. However, like any other area of the law, effective representation in ethics matters requires focused knowledge, specific experience, and attention to detail. Our legal team has decades of combined experience representing judges and lawyers in these types of cases.
Our Las Vegas ethics defense attorneys can assist you with:
- Reviewing the contents of the complaint. It is vital that someone familiar with the structure of these complaint letters review yours in full. Keep in mind that any verbal or informal complaints your client may have brought up in the past may not be the same as those alleged formally. We can help you assess what you are being accused of and begin planning how to respond.
- Navigating matters of malpractice insurance. Subjects of ethical complaints are typically required to inform their carriers if they have professional malpractice insurance, and there are often specific rules governing ethical matters. We can review your policy’s language and advise how to proceed.
- Understanding the investigation and disciplinary process. We are intimately familiar with how the Office of Bar Counsel and Commission on Judicial Discipline conduct investigations and adjudicate complaints. We can guide you through each step of the process and ensure that you know what will be expected of you.
- Advising on potential impacts to your practice or reputation. In most cases, ethics complaints will eventually become a matter of public record and will typically be published in local newspapers or can be accessed online. Depending on the nature and severity of the complaint, you will need to consider how a pending complaint will impact your practice and professional career. As a lawyer, you will need to assess whether you should disclose the matter to your current clients or if you have the capacity to continue handling other cases. We can evaluate your unique situation and make recommendations on how to approach the issue with your practice and clients.
- Drafting your response. It is generally advisable to cooperate with an ethics investigation, especially if you are confident that you did nothing wrong. You will need to prepare and organize evidence and documentation of correspondence that support your case. The prosecutor may also request certain files or pieces of evidence. We can also help you prepare, draft, and file your formal response to the complaint.
- Representation in disciplinary proceedings. Should the prosecutor determine from their investigation that the complaint warrants disciplinary proceedings, you will need to appear for a hearing. We have a complete understanding of this unique type of litigation and can aggressively defend you. Our team can also work to reduce or minimize disciplinary sanctions.
Our Las Vegas ethics defense lawyers at Pitaro & Fumo, Chtd. have represented countless judges and attorneys in numerous types of ethics complaints. We are extremely familiar with the investigation and disciplinary processes and understand how to mount an effective defense.
We Can Help Protect Your License
Even the most experienced and professional lawyers and judges can become the subjects of ethics complaints. The State Bar of Nevada’s Office of Bar Counsel investigates and adjudicates allegations of unethical behavior and professional misconduct involving attorneys, while the Commission on Judicial Discipline oversees matters involving judges. Disciplinary measures stemming from an ethics complaint can include public reprimand, suspension of your license, and even disbarment or removal.
If you learn you are the subject of an ethics complaint, our Las Vegas ethics defense lawyers at Pitaro & Fumo, Chtd. can fight to protect your reputation and career. We can represent you in any disciplinary proceedings involving the Office of Bar Counsel or the Commission on Judicial Discipline. Our accomplished team has many decades of combined legal experience and can leverage our knowledge and resources to benefit your case.