.0118 Proceedings Before the Disciplinary Hearing Commission: Stayed Suspension
(a) Procedures: Non-compliance with Conditions - In any case in which a period of suspension is stayed upon compliance by the defendant with conditions, the commission will retain jurisdiction of the matter until all conditions are satisfied. The following procedures apply during a stayed suspension:
(1) If, during the period the stay is in effect, the counsel receives information tending to show that a condition has been violated, the counsel may, with the consent of the chairperson of the Grievance Committee, file a motion in the cause with the clerk of the commission specifying the violation and seeking an order lifting the stay and activating the suspension. The counsel will serve a copy of the motion upon the defendant.
(2) The clerk will promptly transmit the motion to the chairperson of the commission. The chairperson will appoint a hearing panel to hold a hearing, appointing the members of the hearing panel that originally heard the matter wherever practicable. The chairperson of the commission will notify the counsel and the defendant of the composition of the hearing panel and the time and place for the hearing.
(3) At the hearing, the State Bar will have the burden of proving by the greater weight of the evidence that the defendant violated a condition of the stay.
(4) If the hearing panel finds by the greater weight of the evidence that the defendant violated a condition of the stay, the panel may enter an order lifting the stay and activating the suspension, or any portion thereof. Alternatively, the panel may allow the stay to remain in effect for the original term of the stay, may extend the term of the stay, and/or may include modified or additional conditions for the suspension to remain stayed. If the panel finds that the defendant violated a condition of the stay, the panel may tax the defendant with administrative fees and costs.
(A) In any order lifting a stay and activating a suspension in whole or in part, the panel may include a provision allowing the defendant to apply for a stay of the activated suspension on such terms and conditions as the panel concludes are appropriate.
(B) The panel may impose modified or additional conditions: (a) which the defendant must satisfy to obtain a stay of an activated suspension; (b) with which the defendant must comply during the stay of an activated suspension; and/or (c) which the defendant must satisfy to be reinstated to active status at the end of the activated suspension period.
(C) If the panel activated the entire period of suspension, in order to be reinstated at the end of the activated suspension, the defendant must comply with the requirements of Rule .0129(b) of this subchapter and with any requirements imposed in previous orders entered by the commission.
(D) If the panel activated only a portion of the suspension, in order to be returned to active status at the end of the period of activated suspension the defendant must file a motion with the commission seeking a stay of the remainder of the original term of suspension. If the defendant is granted a stay of the remainder of the original term of suspension, the panel may impose modified and/or additional conditions with which the defendant must comply during the stayed suspension.
(5) If the panel finds that the greater weight of the evidence does not establish that the defendant violated a condition of the stay, it will enter an order continuing the stay.
(6) In any event, the panel will include in its order findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of its decision.
(b) Completion of Stayed Suspension; Continuation of Stay if Motion Alleging Lack of Compliance is Pending
(1) Unless there is pending a motion or proceeding in which it is alleged that the defendant failed to comply with the conditions of the stay, the defendant’s obligations under an order of discipline end upon expiration of the period of the stay.
(2) When the period of the stay of the suspension would otherwise have terminated, if a motion or proceeding is pending in which it is alleged that the defendant failed to comply with the conditions of the stay, the commission retains jurisdiction to lift the stay and activate all or any part of the suspension. The defendant’s obligation to comply with the conditions of the existing stay remains in effect until any such pending motion or proceeding is resolved.
(c) Applying for Stay of Suspension - The following procedures apply to a motion to stay a suspension:
(1) The defendant shall file a motion for stay with the clerk and serve a copy of the motion and all attachments upon the counsel. Such motion shall be filed no earlier than 60 days before the first date of eligibility to apply for a stay. The commission will not consider any motion filed earlier than 60 days before the first date of eligibility to apply for a stay. The commission will not consider any motion unless it is delivered to the clerk and served upon the counsel contemporaneously.
(2) The motion must identify each condition for stay and state how the defendant has met each condition. The defendant shall attach supporting documentation establishing compliance with each condition. The defendant has the burden of proving compliance with each condition by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence.
(3) The counsel shall have 30 days after the motion is filed to file a response.
(4) The clerk shall transmit the motion and the counsel’s response to the chairperson of the commission. Within 14 days of transmittal of the motion and the response, the chairperson shall issue an order appointing a hearing panel and setting the date, time, and location for the hearing. Wherever practicable, the chairperson shall appoint the members of the hearing panel that entered the order of discipline.
(d) Hearing on Motion for Stay
(1) The defendant bears the burden of proving compliance with all conditions for a stay by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence.
(2) Any hearing on a motion for stay will conform as nearly as practicable with the requirements of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure and for trials of nonjury civil causes in the superior courts.
(3) The decision to grant or deny a defendant’s motion to stay a suspension is discretionary. The panel should consider whether the defendant has complied with Rule .0128 and Rule .0129 of this subchapter, and any conditions in the order of discipline, as well as whether reinstatement of the defendant will cause harm or potential harm to clients, the profession, the public, or the administration of justice.
(e) Order on the Motion for Stay - The hearing panel will determine whether the defendant has established compliance with all conditions for a stay by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence. The panel must enter an order including findings of fact and conclusions of law. The panel may impose modified and/or additional conditions: (a) for the suspension to remain stayed; (b) for eligibility for a stay during the suspension; and/or (c) for reinstatement to active status at the end of the suspension period. The panel may tax costs and administrative fees in connection with the motion.
History Note: Statutory Authority G.S. 84-23
Adopted by the Supreme Court September 22, 2016