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Arizona Makes It Easier to Check Up on Lawyers

by Carolyn Elefant on March 22, 2006 · 8 comments

in Ethics & Malpractice Issues, Legal Profession Trends

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According to this article, the Arizona State Bar now includes records of formal disciplinary action against lawyers at its website to help consumers “weed out lawyers with spotty records while searching for representation.”  You might think that someone like me, who constantly complains that bars unfairly target solo and small firm lawyers (as I did here) would oppose Arizona’s new development, but in fact, I don’t.  Consumers should be able to learn whether an attorney has been formally disciplined.  Doesn’t mean that the consumer should not hire the lawyer, but at a minimum, the consumer is entitled to an explanation about the charge and can then make a decision about whether to give the lawyer a second chance.

More importantly, public information about formal discipline helps lawyer too.  For example, I’ve heard of several instances where my colleagues have referred cases to lawyers whom they believed to be reputable only to discover that they’d been disbarred.  Making information publicly available helps avoid this kind of situation and allows us to make better referrals.  Second, when litigating a case, it always helps to know your opponent – and learning that opposing counsel has a long record of disciplinary charges can potentially inform your strategy in the case.

I realize that there’s always the possibility that the bar may wrongfully discipline an attorney and forced disclosure of the sanction can harm the attorney’s business.  But on balance, I think the benefits of access to disciplinary records far outweigh the possible harms.

  • Billy Merck

    This type of information is also available about Georgia lawyers at http://www.gabar.org, and I wholeheartedly encourage it for the reasons you stated.

  • Billy Merck

    This type of information is also available about Georgia lawyers at http://www.gabar.org, and I wholeheartedly encourage it for the reasons you stated.

  • http://www.lawbiz.com Ed Poll

    Carolyn, California has been doing this for years … And I agree that this is information to which the public should have access. California will not publish complaints, but convictions, in the discipline system … That may be different from other States.

  • http://www.lawbiz.com Ed Poll

    Carolyn, California has been doing this for years … And I agree that this is information to which the public should have access. California will not publish complaints, but convictions, in the discipline system … That may be different from other States.

  • rich olivito

    while i understand everyone’s concern for public trust and openness in this field…
    consider what is called “sham peer review”
    inside the medical profession and how out of control the “required publication” of whistleblower doctors have ruined careers, cost lives and the great talent and service of such dedicated doctors…
    its a great issue…but i think there needs to be a very caution note sounded…as we consider embracing something that is bringing…multimillion dollar jury verdicts slowly but surely around the country….

  • rich olivito

    while i understand everyone’s concern for public trust and openness in this field…
    consider what is called “sham peer review”
    inside the medical profession and how out of control the “required publication” of whistleblower doctors have ruined careers, cost lives and the great talent and service of such dedicated doctors…
    its a great issue…but i think there needs to be a very caution note sounded…as we consider embracing something that is bringing…multimillion dollar jury verdicts slowly but surely around the country….

  • Brian Atwood

    Isn’t it illegal for a state agency management team to actually lie & fictionalize accounts on a legal document?
    Hello folks, I request to appeal my termination from DOR please,
    My name is Brian C. Atwood & I have been an faithful & loyal employee of the Great State of Arizona for over 13 years now, & it seems to all come down to me fighting for my very existence & employment with DOR which I do a very good job at…(see all PASA/Evaluations…none contain ANY reference to what I am going to address next)..How does it work when I received EXTREME VERBAL ABUSE from Mr. Jim Wells which contained many profane references about me around Aril 4th to the whole episode becoming my fault due to the way I “talk” to my co-workers & sent home May 8th? Why am I home here under administrative leave when there is really allot of work to do in income? Why in these so-called charges there are not ANY of my permanent co-workers mentioned AT ALL to back up any of these charges? Not ONE of my co-workers that I have been working with for MANY years are even mentioned to back up even ONE of these charges? I have never been in ANY kind of trouble for insubordination, verbal abuse of employees, intimidation of my co-workers or any kind of retaliation against my co-workers. All you would have to do is ask someone how has been working with me for at least 2 years or more, ask Yolando (Ivan) De La Cruz who was my co-worker first then my supervisor later on in Income, or ask Debbie Butorac who was my supervisor in TPT Audit. How about my co-worker Debi Nielsen who I have been working with for several years now? Just ask any supervisor in TIA. How about any employee in processing? They all can give you a very good picture of how I am as an employee & you will easily find that every single charge in this whole farce is completely incorrect, inaccurate, false & fictionalized. I do not understand how Lynette’s management team can just write up anything they darn well please to get “whatever” done that they feel is on their “agenda”. I have spoke up to upper management starting at least 3 years ago-(I do have back-up.) about all this to no avail. I submitted a complaint to the Attorney General’s office about a year ago because of this. I’ve talk to folks in DOA about all this, & still these “fictionalized letters” just keep on coming which causes great stress & injustice for all involved here. We are all aware of the sexual harassment charges going on at DOR, individuals being forced to leave the department, the on-going feud with Van Son Bui, & that farce with Joe Sanchez & company-pretty serious stuff wouldn’t you think & you do this to me?? You know that when I come into work, it is for me just the work. All this stuff going on just has to stop because there is allot of work that needs to be done, but I can’t go back to work because I have to deal with what I told the Director of DOR that this what was going to happen to me was expected & obvious retaliation for something I must have done in the past the made someone mad (???) & this management team just keeps coming on with more lies, partial truths & fictionalized account of things that never happened JUST LIKE THIS CASE. Folks, why are you doing this to me? I know that you know how I really am at work but how it can all come down to this? There is an underlying reason for all this & it has nothing to do with what really is going on here, To me, this seems way to personal to actually be true. What do I need to do to get back to work? In 13 years, you all know that for me it is all about the work. I come in early & I stay late. I spend my time at DOR working, not spending time at work on searching the internet, making personal phone calls, buying Avon, clipping coupons, sending personal e-mails containing “funnies”, going on 2 hour lunches, socializing with my co-workers during work time, watching DVD movies at work, & there are those who will go off to lunch to smoke pot/crystal meth, (you can smell it when they get back)-so here again I am trying to see what I actually did wrong here to warrant all this & this without any real back-up or established pattern of mis-behavior in my past. I was just thinking about the state’s turn-over rate & how high it is which begs me to ask the question-I was told in a e-mail from K Ward, the deputy director talking about my work ethic just a few months ago & how she appreciated this from me, I am thinking here that nothing has changed for me-I’m the same person then & I am the same person now. Something beyond my control at DOR has changed in a bad way, so this happens to me now. I would really like to go back to work now please, ok?
    Brian C Atwood
    Mr. Atwood,
    I received your e-mail which consisted of two separate e-mails to the Director of DOR. Is it your intent that by forwarding these two e-mail that you are appealing your termination to the Personnel Board? There was no message stating such. If you are appealing your termination from the Department of Revenue, please inform me and be sure to include your address and telephone number. I will also need you to mail the original appeal letter to: State Personnel Board, 1400 West Washington St., Suite 280, Phoenix, Arizona, 85007. Further information regarding the appeal process can be found on our website at http://www.personnel.state.az.us.
    Judy Henkel
    Executive Director

  • Brian Atwood

    Isn’t it illegal for a state agency management team to actually lie & fictionalize accounts on a legal document?
    Hello folks, I request to appeal my termination from DOR please,
    My name is Brian C. Atwood & I have been an faithful & loyal employee of the Great State of Arizona for over 13 years now, & it seems to all come down to me fighting for my very existence & employment with DOR which I do a very good job at…(see all PASA/Evaluations…none contain ANY reference to what I am going to address next)..How does it work when I received EXTREME VERBAL ABUSE from Mr. Jim Wells which contained many profane references about me around Aril 4th to the whole episode becoming my fault due to the way I “talk” to my co-workers & sent home May 8th? Why am I home here under administrative leave when there is really allot of work to do in income? Why in these so-called charges there are not ANY of my permanent co-workers mentioned AT ALL to back up any of these charges? Not ONE of my co-workers that I have been working with for MANY years are even mentioned to back up even ONE of these charges? I have never been in ANY kind of trouble for insubordination, verbal abuse of employees, intimidation of my co-workers or any kind of retaliation against my co-workers. All you would have to do is ask someone how has been working with me for at least 2 years or more, ask Yolando (Ivan) De La Cruz who was my co-worker first then my supervisor later on in Income, or ask Debbie Butorac who was my supervisor in TPT Audit. How about my co-worker Debi Nielsen who I have been working with for several years now? Just ask any supervisor in TIA. How about any employee in processing? They all can give you a very good picture of how I am as an employee & you will easily find that every single charge in this whole farce is completely incorrect, inaccurate, false & fictionalized. I do not understand how Lynette’s management team can just write up anything they darn well please to get “whatever” done that they feel is on their “agenda”. I have spoke up to upper management starting at least 3 years ago-(I do have back-up.) about all this to no avail. I submitted a complaint to the Attorney General’s office about a year ago because of this. I’ve talk to folks in DOA about all this, & still these “fictionalized letters” just keep on coming which causes great stress & injustice for all involved here. We are all aware of the sexual harassment charges going on at DOR, individuals being forced to leave the department, the on-going feud with Van Son Bui, & that farce with Joe Sanchez & company-pretty serious stuff wouldn’t you think & you do this to me?? You know that when I come into work, it is for me just the work. All this stuff going on just has to stop because there is allot of work that needs to be done, but I can’t go back to work because I have to deal with what I told the Director of DOR that this what was going to happen to me was expected & obvious retaliation for something I must have done in the past the made someone mad (???) & this management team just keeps coming on with more lies, partial truths & fictionalized account of things that never happened JUST LIKE THIS CASE. Folks, why are you doing this to me? I know that you know how I really am at work but how it can all come down to this? There is an underlying reason for all this & it has nothing to do with what really is going on here, To me, this seems way to personal to actually be true. What do I need to do to get back to work? In 13 years, you all know that for me it is all about the work. I come in early & I stay late. I spend my time at DOR working, not spending time at work on searching the internet, making personal phone calls, buying Avon, clipping coupons, sending personal e-mails containing “funnies”, going on 2 hour lunches, socializing with my co-workers during work time, watching DVD movies at work, & there are those who will go off to lunch to smoke pot/crystal meth, (you can smell it when they get back)-so here again I am trying to see what I actually did wrong here to warrant all this & this without any real back-up or established pattern of mis-behavior in my past. I was just thinking about the state’s turn-over rate & how high it is which begs me to ask the question-I was told in a e-mail from K Ward, the deputy director talking about my work ethic just a few months ago & how she appreciated this from me, I am thinking here that nothing has changed for me-I’m the same person then & I am the same person now. Something beyond my control at DOR has changed in a bad way, so this happens to me now. I would really like to go back to work now please, ok?
    Brian C Atwood
    Mr. Atwood,
    I received your e-mail which consisted of two separate e-mails to the Director of DOR. Is it your intent that by forwarding these two e-mail that you are appealing your termination to the Personnel Board? There was no message stating such. If you are appealing your termination from the Department of Revenue, please inform me and be sure to include your address and telephone number. I will also need you to mail the original appeal letter to: State Personnel Board, 1400 West Washington St., Suite 280, Phoenix, Arizona, 85007. Further information regarding the appeal process can be found on our website at http://www.personnel.state.az.us.
    Judy Henkel
    Executive Director

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