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August 14, 2018

Model Rules for Judicial Disciplinary Enforcement

Section III. Disciplinary Proceedings
Rule 25. Review By {Highest Court}

  1. Expedited Consideration.
    (1) The clerk of the court shall docket for expedited consideration any case in which the commission recommended a sanction or a notice of exceptions was filed.
    (2) In cases the commission has dismissed to which no exceptions were filed, the dismissal shall be final if the highest court has not ordered a review within [15] days.
  2. Brief and Supplementary Filings.
    (1) Disciplinary counsel, the respondent and the {lawyer disciplinary agency} if it is entitled to file pursuant to Rule 24.G, shall file briefs as follows: [an expedited schedule should be determined by the highest court and inserted here].
    (2) If the highest court desires an expansion of the record or additional findings, it shall remand the case to the hearing panel with appropriate directions, retain jurisdiction and withhold action pending receipt of the additional filing.
    (3) The highest court may order additional briefs or oral arguments as to the entire case or specified issues.
  3. Stay for Further Proceedings. If during review by the highest court the commission receives another complaint against the respondent, the disciplinary counsel shall advise the highest court. The highest court may stay its review pending the commission's determination of the second complaint. The highest court may impose a single sanction covering all recommendations for discipline from the commission against a respondent.
  4. Decision.
    (1) The highest court shall file a written decision dismissing the case or imposing a sanction. All decisions issued by the highest court shall be published in the official reports for the guidance of other judges and for public information.
    (2) The highest court may accept, reject or modify in whole or in part the findings and conclusions of the commission.
    (3) The highest court may assess costs against the respondent if it finds the respondent committed misconduct.


The highest court has the inherent power and final responsibility to regulate the judicial branch of government. These Rules provide for de novo review by the highest court. They also provide that all public sanctions be imposed by the highest court. Jurisdictions may decide, depending on the local legal culture, to have the highest court review cases on the record or only on appeal.

Jurisdictions may also decide to permit the commission to impose certain forms of public discipline.

The disciplinary counsel should advise the highest court whenever a new complaint has been received against a respondent whose case is before the highest court and an investigative panel has authorized a full investigation of the new complaint. The highest court can then decide whether to proceed with the first matter or to stay it so that all matters against the respondent can be considered together.