Columbia, SC (WLTX) – What happens when a judge’s or lawyer’s conduct is questioned?
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel looks into the claim and the judge or lawyer has to respond in 15 days.
The office received 294 complaints against judges across South Carolina last year and 1542 against lawyers.
For the lawyers’ complaints officials said 80 percent are dismissed and 15 percent are resolved confidentially.
The numbers of dismissal are even larger for judges.
We are told, the top complaints against judges are their demeanor, fairness, bias or a conflict of interest.
For lawyers, the complaints range from lack of communication with clients, failed promises and stealing of funds.
Lawyers and judges are held to lengthy codes of conduct and take an oath.
Some rules for lawyers include fair treatment with client, being honest and respectful.
A judge’s code of conduct includes upholding integrity and independence of the judiciary and must refrain from inappropriate criminal activity and must be mindful of bias or prejudice remarks.
If a claim against a judge or a lawyer isn't thrown out, the disciplinary office said it could take years until action is taken.
The Office of Disciplinary Counsel investigates and makes a recommendation. They send it on to a commission who decides if it will then go to the Supreme Court who ultimately decides what happens.
If the allegations are extremely severe and if the person is facing criminal prosecution or conviction for a serious crime or if someone was a threat to the public, the judge or lawyer can face an interim suspension while being investigated.
Punishments include suspension, disbarment, removal from office and public reprimand or limitation on duties.
For more information on the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, please visit: http://www.sccourts.org/discCounsel/#
To see more on the codes of conduct and disciplinary actions, please visit: