Home Table of Contents

SCR 3.160 Initiation of disciplinary cases

Baldwin's Kentucky Revised Statutes AnnotatedRules of the Supreme CourtEffective: April 1, 2022

Baldwin's Kentucky Revised Statutes Annotated
Rules of the Supreme Court
III Practice of Law (Refs & Annos)
Effective: April 1, 2022
Rules of the Supreme Court (SCR), Rule 3.160
SCR 3.160 Initiation of disciplinary cases
(1) After review by Bar Counsel pursuant to subparagraph (3) of this Rule, any sworn written statement of complaint against an attorney for unprofessional conduct shall be filed with the Office of Bar Counsel who shall promptly notify the attorney by certified mail, sent to the address maintained by the Director pursuant to SCR 3.035, or other means consistent with the Supreme Court Rules and Civil Rules, of the complaint, and that he/she has twenty (20) days to respond to the complaint. Upon completion of the investigation by the Office of Bar Counsel the matter shall be assigned to an Inquiry Commission panel by rotation.
(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1), when it comes to the attention of the Inquiry Commission from any source that an attorney may have engaged in unprofessional conduct, the Inquiry Commission, or a three-person panel thereof, may initiate and conduct an investigation. If it believes from its investigation that there is sufficient evidence to justify its filing a complaint against the attorney it may file such a complaint or it may issue a warning letter. The attorney who receives the warning letter may, within 30 days from the date of the letter, respond to the letter and request it be reconsidered by the Inquiry Commission.
(3)(a) Upon receipt of a verbal or written allegation of a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct, or sworn complaint, the Office of Bar Counsel will initially determine, under the direction of the Chair and Inquiry Commission, whether the matter is appropriate for alternative disposition. Alternative disposition may include, but is not limited to:
i. Informal resolution;
ii. Referral to Fee Arbitration under SCR 3.810;
iii. Legal negligence arbitration under SCR 3.800;
iv. Legal or management education programs;
v. Remedial ethics education programs;
vi. Referral to KYLAP under SCR 3.970(1)(c); or
vii. Issuance of a warning letter.
(b) A complaint is not suitable for alternative disposition if it alleges serious misconduct in which the sanction would more than likely result in a suspension. Additionally, some ethical violations warranting a private or public reprimand may not, under all circumstances, be eligible for alternative disposition.
(c) After review and such preliminary investigation as may reasonably be necessary, the Office of Bar Counsel may attempt informal resolution and subsequently close the Complaint. If the acts or course of conduct complained of merit referral under 3(A)(ii)-(vi), and do not warrant a greater degree of discipline, the Office of Bar Counsel may issue a warning letter with or without conditions, which will be maintained in the investigative file of the Office of Bar Counsel but not be considered as discipline, or it may recommend remedial ethics, related legal or management education programs, fee arbitration, or KYLAP, completion of which would result in the complaint being dismissed. The attorney who receives the warning letter may, within 30 days from the date of the letter, file a response thereto and may request reconsideration of the matter by the Inquiry Commission. Any response or request so submitted shall be retained in the Bar Counsel file.
(d) If Bar Counsel deems a written and sworn complaint to state an ethical violation, such that alternative disposition is not appropriate or the Respondent will not consent to or complete the alternative disposition program, the matter shall proceed under subsection (1) above.
(e) If Bar Counsel deems any written and sworn complaint against a member not to state an ethical violation and it is not suitable for alternative disposition, it may decline, without investigation, to entertain it.
(4) Once a complaint has been filed, it cannot be withdrawn and shall be processed and reviewed pursuant to this rule. A complainant may file an affidavit of disavowal if they realize a mistake was made or the filing of the complaint was in error.
(5) Neither the Association, the Board, the Director, the Inquiry Commission, the Trial Commission, the Office of Bar Counsel, nor their officers, employees, agents, delegates or members shall be liable, to any person or entity initiating a complaint or investigation, or to any member of the bar or any other person or entity being charged or investigated by, or at the direction of, the Inquiry Commission, for any damages incident to such investigation or any complaint, charge, prosecution, proceeding or trial.


HISTORY: Amended by Order 2022-11, eff. 4-1-22; prior amendments eff. 3-1-20 (2020-03), 1-1-16 (Order 2015-20), 1-1-14 (Order 2013-12), 2-1-08 (Order 2007-007), 4-1-07 (Order 2007-01), 1-1-06 (Order 2005-10), 10-1-98 (Order 98-1), 1-13-86 (Order 86-1), 7-1-79, 1-1-78, 7-2-71
Note: Former Rules of Appellate Procedure (RAP) were amended and redesignated as Rules of the Supreme Court (SCR) by Order of the Supreme Court effective January 1, 1978. Prior Rules of the Court of Appeals (RCA) had been redesignated as Rules of Appellate Procedure effective March 12, 1976.
Sup. Ct. Rules, Rule 3.160, KY ST S CT Rule 3.160
Current with amendments received through March 1, 2024. Some sections may be more current, see credits for details.
End of Document