A. Initiation of Disciplinary Process. The board or district inquiry committeescommittee may
consider on theirits own motionsmotion alleged grounds for disciplinary action or disability
proceedings. All complaints other than those upon motion by the board or district inquiry committeescommittee must be in writing, signed by the complainant, and filed with the secretaryand assigned
to the appropriate inquiry committeedisciplinary counsel. The secretary may assign new complaints
to another inquiry committee when it appears that the inquiry committee to which the complaint
would normally be assigned has a disproportionately high caseload.
B. Initial Consideration. The chair or, upon designation by the chair, the vice-chair of the district
inquiry committeeCounsel shall evaluate complaints received. If the lawyer is not subject to the
jurisdiction of the court, the chair or vice-chaircounsel shall refer the matter to the appropriate entity
in the jurisdiction in which the lawyer is admitted.
C. Summary Dismissal of Complaint. ASubject to this section, a complaint mustmay be summarily
dismissed by the district inquiry committeecounsel if the alleged facts, if true, are not grounds for
disciplinary action or disability.
At least every 30 days, counsel shall submit to the inquirycommittee a list of all complaints
considered subject to summary dismissal. The list must include a summary of reasons for each
dismissal. Upon review of the reported complaints, any committee member may, within 14 days of
the date the list was mailed, request that the committee further consider a particular complaint. If the
committee concludes summary dismissal of a particular complaint may be inappropriate, the
committee shall direct that counsel conduct additional investigation. The committee shall review the
recommendation and additional investigation for purposes of determining whether dismissal is
appropriate. Counsel shall issue a letter of summary dismissal if a request for further consideration
is not received within 14 days of the date the list of complaints was mailed or if the committee,
following further consideration, notifies counsel that additional investigation is not required and
summary dismissal is appropriate.
If dismissal of a complaint is recommended by counsel following investigation, the recommendation
and accompanying investigative report must be submitted to the inquiry committee for consideration.
The inquiry committee may direct counsel to issue an advisory letter in accordance with Rule 2.5C.
After summary dismissal or dismissal of a complaint, the chair or vice-chair, as appropriate,counsel
shall promptly notify the lawyer and complainant of the actionand the reasons for the action and
furnish a copy of the complaint to the lawyer. The lawyer is not required to respond to thea
complaint subject to summary dismissal. There is no appeal from a summary dismissal.
D. Investigation and District Inquiry Committee Procedures.
(1) Complaints not summarily dismissed must be promptly investigated by a member of the district
inquiry committee or counsel. Failure to timely complete an investigation does not prejudice the
(2) Upon assignment of the investigator, aA copy of the complaint must be served on the lawyer.
(3) The lawyer, within twenty days of service of the complaint, shall serve a written response to the
allegations in the complaint upon the assigned investigatorcounsel. An extension may be granted
by the chaircounsel only upon a showing of good cause. Failure to make a timely response is an may
be deemed an admission that the factual allegations of the complaint are true for purposes of
proceedings before the district inquiry committee.
At any time the complaint is under consideration by the district inquiry committee or counsel, the
district inquiry committee may refer the lawyer may be referred to the lawyer assistance program for
screening for possible participation in the lawyer assistance program. Screening for possible
participation in the lawyer assistance program may also be initiated by the lawyer at any time the
complaint is under consideration by the district inquiry committee or counsel.
(4) Concurrent with submission of the lawyer's written response under section D(3), the lawyer shall
serve a copy of the response, including all attachments, upon the complainant. The lawyer shall
provide to the assigned investigatorcounsel proof of service of the response upon the complainant.
Any subsequent written reply to the lawyer's response by the complainant must be provided to the
lawyer within a reasonable time after receipt by the investigatorcounsel.
(5) Within 60 days of assignment, absent an extension from the chair, the investigatorreceiving the
complaint or a request for investigation, whichever occurs later, counsel shall file a written report
with the chair containing a summary of the investigation and conclusions, the response received from
the lawyer, and relevant documents. An extension may be granted by the chair only upon a showing
of good cause. Counsel shall serve the written report upon the lawyer and the complainant at the time
the report is filed with the chair.
(6) Notice of the opportunity to appear before the district inquiry committee must be provided to the
complainant unless the complaint is subject to summary dismissal under Rule 3.1C, unless there is
a diversion from discipline, or unless in the chair's opinion the complainant poses a threat of harm
to the committee.
(7) Notice of the opportunity to appear before the district inquiry committee must be provided to the
lawyer before entry of any discipline by the district inquiry committee, before diversion from
discipline, or before referral for formal proceedings.
(8) Counsel shall promptly notify the complainant and lawyer in writing of the disposition of the
complaint and the reasons for the inquiry committee's decision. The complainant, lawyer, or counsel
may appeal any disposition, except a determination that there is probable cause or a diversion from
discipline, to the board by filing a written request for review with counsel within 30 days of mailing
of notice. The person appealing the inquiry committee’s decision must show that the committee
acted arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably. Upon receipt of the written request, counsel shall
refer the file to the board which shall consider the merits of the appeal. The determination of the
board may be the subject of a petition for leave to appeal to the court, but leave will not be granted
unless the person seeking leave to appeal shows that the board acted arbitrarily, capriciously, or
unreasonably. A petition for leave to appeal must be submitted within 30 days of mailing of notice
of the board’s determination.
(9) The report required under section D(5) must be filed with the secretary upon disposition of the
matter by the district inquiry committee.
E. Formal Proceedings.
(1) The board shall begin a formal disciplinary proceeding within 60 days of referral of a matter to
the board for formal proceedings or within 60 days of the board's determination that there is probable
cause to believe a lawyer committed misconduct warranting public discipline. Counsel shall initiate
the proceeding by filing with the board and serving upon the lawyer a petition that is sufficiently
clear and specific to inform the lawyer of the alleged misconduct. The time within which formal
proceedings must be instituted may be extended for good cause. Upon receiving the petition the chair
of the board shall assign the matter to a hearing panel.
At any time after assignment to the hearing panel, the hearing panel may refer the lawyer to the
lawyer assistance program for screening for possible participation in the lawyer assistance program.
Screening for possible participation in the lawyer assistance program may also be initiated by the
lawyer at any time after the matter is assigned to the hearing panel. The hearing panel shall proceed
with its consideration of the matter during the screening process.
(2) The lawyer shall serve an answer upon counsel and the assigned hearing panel within 20 days
after the service of the petition, unless the time is extended by the chair of the hearing panel. In the
event the lawyer fails to timely answer, the charges are admitted.
(3) If there are any material issues of fact raised by the pleadings or if the lawyer requests the
opportunity to be heard in mitigation, the hearing panel shall give 25 days written notice of the
hearing to the lawyer, complainant, and counsel, stating the date and place of hearing. The hearing
must be held in a judicial district in which the lawyer resides, is employed, or maintains an office.
The notice of hearing must advise that the lawyer is entitled to be represented by counsel, to
cross-examine witnesses, and to present evidence. The hearing must be recorded. The hearing panel
may request that a transcript be made.
(4) Disciplinary counsel and the respondent may submit proposed findings, conclusions, and
recommendations for sanction or order of dismissal to the hearing panel.
(5) All documents in a proceeding under this rule must be filed in accordance with Rule 5(d) of the
North Dakota Rules of Civil Procedure, except the filing shall be made with the Secretarysecretary,
with copies served upon the assigned hearing panel.
F. Review by the Court.
(1) Within 60 days of the close of the hearing record, the hearing panel shall file with the secretary
its order of dismissal, consent probation or reprimand. A copy of the panel's order must be served
upon counsel, the complainant, and the lawyer. Counsel, the complainant, or the lawyer may seek
court review of the panel's decision. A written petition for review, stating the reasons for the
requested review, must be filed with the clerk within 20 days of service of the panel's order. The
petition must contain a clear statement of the reasons petitioner believes the panel's decision is
arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable. The court may provide for oral arguments or the submission
(2) Within 60 days of the close of the hearing record, the hearing panel shall submit to the court a
report containing its findings and recommendations on each matter heard other than those resulting
in dismissal, consent probation, or reprimand. The hearing panel's report shall contain mitigating or
aggravating circumstances affecting the nature or degree of discipline recommended. A copy of the
report submitted to the court must be served upon counsel, complainant, and the lawyer. Within 20
days of service of the report, the lawyer and counsel may file objections to the report. Within 50 days
after service of the report, the lawyer and counsel may file briefs limited to objections timely filed
under this rule. Oral arguments may be requested by the lawyer or counsel, or may be set upon the
court's own motion. Briefing and oral argument will be as provided in the North Dakota Rules of
G. Reserved Authority. Nothing in these rules prevents the court from instituting disability or
disciplinary proceedings, diversion from discipline, or participation in the lawyer assistance program
on its own initiative.
Rule 3.1 was adopted effective January 1, 1995; amended effective July 1, 1999; August 1, 2001;
January 16, 2002; August 1, 2004; March 1, 2012; _______________.
Section A was amended effective ____________ to require that all complaints be filed with
disciplinary counsel, rather than the secretary of the disciplinary board.
Section B was amended effective ____________ to require that disciplinary counsel must evaluate
all received complaints.
Section C was amended effective ____________ to establish a process of summary dismissal of
complaints by disciplinary counsel, subject to review by inquiry committee members. The section
was also amended to provide that disciplinary counsel recommends dismissal after an investigation,
the recommendation and investigative report must be submitted to the inquiry committee. The
section was also amended to permit the inquiry committee to direct disciplinary counsel to issue an
advisory letter under Rule 2.5C.
Section D was amended effective____________to conform to amendments related to disciplinary
counsel’s responsibility to investigate complaints and to reflect the creation of a single statewide
Section D(1) was amended to provide that failure to timely complete an investigation does not
prejudice the complaint.
Section D(5) was amended effective ____________ to require that counsel submit a written report
within 60 days of receiving the complaint or a request for investigation, whichever occurs later and
to require that counsel serve the written report on the lawyer and the complainant at the time it is
filed with the inquiry committee chair.
Section D(6) was amended effective____________ to remove language related to the complainant
posing a threat of harm to the inquiry committee as a basis for not providing notice of the
opportunity to appear before the committee.
Section D(8) was amended effective____________ to require that a person appealing an inquiry
committee decision must prove the committee acted arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably.
Section D(8) was also amended to provide that a petition for leave to appeal a disciplinary board
determination must be submitted within 30 days of mailing of notice of the determination.