Part 3, Section 19: Review of Ethics Complaint
A. Initial action upon receipt of an ethics complaint
Upon receipt of an ethics complaint from the Board Secretary, the Chairperson of the Grievance Committee shall review the complaint. Any evidence and documentation attached will be considered only to the extent necessary to determine whether a complaint will be referred for hearing. The Chairperson may assign one or more members of the Grievance Committee to review the complaint and to make any necessary evaluation. The member(s) may, if necessary, gather additional information on the matters complained of if additional information is necessary to determine whether a complaint will be referred for hearing. The complaint shall be provided to the assigned members by the Board Secretary upon instruction from the Chairperson. (Amended 5/13)
The reviewer(s), if appointed, shall complete the assignment promptly and prepare a report and recommendation for the Grievance Committee. After reviewing the report, the Chairperson shall schedule a meeting of the Grievance Committee and may instruct the Secretary to provide members of the Grievance Committee with copies of the case file including the reviewer’s report, if any. At the option of the Board, such file may be sent to the Grievance Committee members prior to the meeting or may be distributed at the meeting. (Amended 4/94)
B. Consideration of an ethics complaint by the Grievance Committee
In reviewing an ethics complaint, the Grievance Committee shall consider the following:
(1) Is the ethics complaint acceptable in form as received by the Committee? If not in proper form, the Chairperson may request that the Elected Secretary or the Executive Officer contact the complainant to advise that the complaint must be submitted in proper form.
NOTE: If deemed appropriate by the Chairperson, a member of the Grievance Committee may be assigned to contact the complainant and to provide procedural assistance to amend the complaint or resubmit a new complaint in proper form and with proper content. The Grievance Committee member providing such assistance shall ensure that only procedural assistance is provided to the complainant, and that the complainant understands that the member is not representing the complainant.
(2) Are all necessary parties named in the complaint?
(3) Was the complaint filed within one hundred eighty (180) days of the time that the alleged offense and facts relating to it could have been known by the complainant in the exercise of reasonable diligence or within one hundred eighty (180) days after the conclusion of the transaction or event, whichever is later? (Revised 5/11)
(4) Is the respondent named in the complaint a member of the Board, and was the respondent a member of any Board at the time of the alleged offense?
(5) Is litigation or any government agency investigation or other action pending related to the same transaction?
(a) If criminal litigation is pending related to the same transaction or event, the Grievance Committee shall cease its considerations and instruct the Board Secretary to hold the file pending until such time as the criminal litigation is concluded. A report shall be made to the Board President. (Revised 5/11)
(b) If civil litigation is pending related to the same transaction or event, the Grievance Committee shall instruct the Board Secretary to have Board legal counsel review the complaint filed and advise if any hearing should proceed (presuming the matter would otherwise warrant a hearing), with counsel considering the following: (Revised 5/11)
(1) similarity of factors giving rise to pending litigation or regulatory or administrative proceeding and the ethics complaint
(2) degree to which resolution of the pending civil litigation or regulatory or administrative proceeding could make consideration of the ethics complaint unnecessary
(3) degree to which pending litigation or regulatory or administrative proceeding would delay prompt disposition of the ethics complaint
(4) the nature of the alleged violation and the extent to which it could impact on cooperation with other Board Members
(5) the assurance of Board legal counsel that consideration of an ethics complaint would not deprive the respondent of due process
(6) Is there any reason to conclude that the Board would be unable to provide an impartial Hearing Panel?
(7) Are the specific Articles cited in the complaint appropriate in light of the facts provided? Should additional Articles be cited? Should certain Standards of Practice be cited in support of the Articles charged? Are any inappropriate Articles cited?
(8) If the facts alleged in the complaint were taken as true on their face, is it possible that a violation of the Code of Ethics occurred?
If all relevant questions have been answered to the satisfaction of the Grievance Committee, and the facts given appear to indicate a possible violation of the Code of Ethics, the Grievance Committee shall refer the complaint to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing by an ethics Hearing Panel.
C. Appeal from the decision of the Grievance Committee related to an ethics complaint
If the Grievance Committee dismisses the complaint, the notice of dismissal shall specify the reasons for dismissing and the complainant may appeal the dismissal to the Board of Directors within twenty (20) days from receipt of the dismissal notice using Form #E-22, Appeal of Grievance Committee (or Hearing Panel) Dismissal of Ethics Complaint. The complaint and any attachments to the complaint cannot be revised, modified, or supplemented. The complainant may, however, explain in writing why the complainant disagrees with the Grievance Committee’s conclusion that the complaint should be dismissed. If the Grievance Committee deletes an Article or Articles from an ethics complaint, the complainant may also appeal to the Board of Directors using Form #E-22, Appeal of Grievance Committee (or Hearing Panel) Dismissal of Ethics Complaint. The Directors (or a panel of Directors or the Executive Committee) shall consider only the information and documents considered by the Grievance Committee, together with the complainant’s rationale for challenging the dismissal and render its decision, which shall be final. The parties are not present at the meeting at which the appeal is considered. (Revised 5/06)
D. Criminal or civil litigation or regulatory/administrative proceedings coming to light after an ethics complaint has been referred to an ethics Hearing Panel
If after review of an ethics complaint by the Grievance Committee and referral of the complaint for hearing, it is subsequently discovered that civil litigation or regulatory or administrative proceedings related to the same transaction or event are pending, the Hearing Panel Chair, in consultation with association legal counsel, will determine whether the hearing will proceed or, alternatively, whether the complaint will be held in abeyance pending resolution of the litigation or regulatory or administrative proceedings. If after review of an ethics complaint by the Grievance Committee and referral of the complaint for hearing it is discovered that criminal proceedings related to the same transaction or event are pending, the complaint will be held in abeyance pending conclusion of the criminal proceedings. (Adopted 5/11)