Local grievance committees are comprised of lawyers and non-lawyers whose primary purpose is to investigate allegations of lawyer misconduct. There are currently 81 local circuit grievance committees. Grievance committee members are appointed by the Board of Governors members for the various circuits.
Grievance committees are akin to grand juries. Generally, grievance committees meet monthly to review ongoing investigations and to determine if there are grounds for moving forward with an investigation. Typically, one member of the grievance committee is assigned as the investigating member. The investigating member will interview witnesses and review documentary evidence. In most cases, the investigating member will make a recommendation to the full grievance committee regarding disposition of a case. Grievance committees have a number of options to dispose of cases, including: (1) finding probable cause that the respondent committed a violation of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar; (2) finding no probable cause; (3) finding no probable cause with a letter of advice; (4) making a recommendation of an admonishment for minor misconduct; or (5) recommending diversion to one of the Bar’s practice and professionalism programs.
When considering whether there is probable cause for further disciplinary proceedings, grievance committees, at their sole discretion, may choose to conduct live evidentiary hearings or conduct a summary review of the evidence. If a grievance committee finds probable cause that a respondent has violated the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, Bar counsel will prepare a formal complaint for filing in the Florida Supreme Court.