Part Nine, Section 41 — Function
The function of the Grievance Committee is clearly distinguishable from the function of the Professional Standards Committee. The Professional Standards Committee is similar to a court. The court adjudicates matters that come before it. The Professional Standards Committee makes decisions on matters involving ethics or arbitration.
If the function of the Professional Standards Committee is understood as similar to a court, the function of the Grievance Committee can then be understood as similar to that of the grand jury. A grand jury evaluates potentially criminal conduct to determine whether the evidence and testimony presented warrants indictment and trial.
In a similar manner, the Grievance Committee receives ethics complaints and arbitration requests to determine if, taken as true on their face, a hearing is to be warranted. The Grievance Committee makes only such preliminary evaluation as is necessary to make these decisions. While the Grievance Committee has meetings, it does not hold hearings, and it does not decide whether members have violated the Code of Ethics. The Grievance Committee does not mediate or arbitrate business disputes. Grievance Committees are encouraged to hold regularly-scheduled meetings. Meetings should be called often enough to ensure timely review of ethics complaints and arbitration requests. (Revised 5/07)
In evaluating ethics complaints, the Grievance Committee may require a written response from the respondent(s). In such instances the respondent(s) should be provided with a copy of the ethics complaint and advised that failure to respond may be the basis for a charge of having violated Article 14 of the Code of Ethics. (See Form #E-4, Grievance Committee Request for Information [Ethics Complaint] and Form #E-5, Response to Grievance Committee Request for Information, Part Six of this Manual). In evaluating arbitration requests, the Grievance Committee may request a written response to the arbitration request from the respondent(s). (See Form #A-5, Grievance Committee Request for Information [Arbitration Request] and Form #A-6, Response to Grievance Committee Request for Information, Part Thirteen of this Manual.) If no response is filed within the time allotted, the Grievance Committee shall make its determination as to whether an arbitration hearing should be scheduled based upon the information set forth in the arbitration request.
When Grievance Committees refer ethics complaints and arbitration requests for hearing, hearing panel chairs can determine if questions about
(1) whether ethics complaints and arbitration requests are timely filed,
(2) whether arbitrable issues exist,
(3) whether arbitration requests are too legally complex to be fairly arbitrated, and
(4) other administrative issues
will be addressed through a pre-hearing meeting of the hearing panel or at the outset of the hearing prior to testimony relating to the ethics complaint or arbitration request commencing. If these matters rise during a hearing, the hearing panel will address them at that time.
Dismissals of ethics complaints and arbitration requests by hearing panels can be appealed to the Board of Directors on the same bases as dismissals by the Grievance Committee.
Any proceeding convened to resolve such issues must include all of the procedural due process safeguards required for ethics and arbitration hearings. (Revised 11/12)