1.7. Election of Officers.
1.9. Compensation and expenses.
Rule 1. Lawyer Disciplinary Board.
The standard of professional ethics and conduct of the bench and bar is of the highest importance to the people of the State of West Virginia and to the members of the legal profession. Every member of the legal profession shall observe the highest standards of professional conduct. In furtherance of this goal, the Supreme Court of Appeals does hereby establish a Lawyer Disciplinary Board (Board) to investigate complaints of violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct promulgated by the Supreme Court of Appeals to govern the professional conduct of those admitted to the practice of law in West Virginia or any individual admitted to the practice of law in another jurisdiction who engages in the practice of law in West Virginia and to take appropriate action in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Procedure. The Board shall be exempt from the payment of filing fees in all proceedings. (Amended by order entered December 6, 1994, effective January 1, 1995 and by order entered May 6, 1999, effective July 1, 1999.)
Rule 1.1. Membership.
The Board shall consist of nineteen members, thirteen of whom shall be active members of The West Virginia State Bar and six of whom shall be members of the public. Initially, the membership of the Board shall consist of the current members of the Committee on Legal Ethics of The West Virginia State Bar.
Rule 1.2. Terms.
The members of the Board shall serve staggered terms of three years. The appointment date of the terms shall be filed with the Clerk of the Supreme Court. All members of the Board currently serving as members of the Committee on Legal Ethics of The West Virginia State Bar shall serve the remainder of their terms. The term and authority of any member of the Board shall be extended to allow such member to participate in any matter in which the member has participated prior to expiration of the member’s term.
Rule 1.3. Appointment.
The members of the Board shall be appointed by the Board of Governors of The West Virginia State Bar at its annual meeting. Members of the Board shall attend an orientation program conducted by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel within six months of appointment.
Rule 1.4. Eligibility.
When an active member of The West Virginia State Bar ceases to become an active member of The West Virginia State Bar or whenever any member becomes otherwise ineligible to hold office, his or her membership on the Board shall terminate. A member of the Board may be removed by the concurrence of a majority of the Board for an unreasonable failure to perform the member’s duties.
Rule 1.5. Vacancies
Whenever a vacancy is to occur due to the expiration of the term of a member of the Board, the Chairperson shall notify the Board of Governors of The West Virginia State Bar sixty days prior to the expiration of the term. Whenever a vacancy occurs on the Board for any other reason, the Chairperson shall notify the Board of Governors of The West Virginia State Bar within thirty days of the vacancy. If the Board of Governors of The West Virginia State Bar does not fill a vacancy within sixty days of the date of the written notice of vacancy, it shall be filled by the Supreme Court of Appeals. A vacancy on the Board shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term for which the original appointment was made. All persons appointed shall continue to serve until their successors are appointed and qualified.
Rule 1.6. Reappointment.
A member of the Board who has completed one full term of service shall be eligible for a single reappointment after completion of the member’s term. Any member appointed to fill a vacancy who has served less than one year shall be eligible for two reappointments.
Rule 1.7. Election of officers.
The members of the Board shall annually elect a Chairperson and a Vice-Chairperson. The Chairperson, and in the Chairperson’s absence the Vice-Chairperson, shall perform the duties normally associated with that office and shall preside over all meetings of the full Board, ruling on all motions, objections, and evidence. The Chairperson may serve, as his or her discretion, as the Chairperson of the Investigative Panel or the Hearing Panel, and the Vice-Chairperson shall serve as Chairperson of the other panel.
Rule 1.8. Quorum.
Ten members of the Board shall constitute a quorum. The Board shall act only with the concurrence of a majority of those present and voting.
Rule 1.9. Compensation and expenses.
Members of the Board shall be eligible for reimbursement for travel and other expenses incidental to the performance of their duties.
Rule 1.10. Disqualification.
A member of the Board may not participate as such in any proceeding involving a charge against such member, such member’s spouse, or a person within the third degree of relationship to either the member or the member’s spouse. The appropriate appointing authority may make temporary appointments to fill a disqualified member’s position in a given proceeding. Board members shall disqualify themselves in any proceeding in which a judge, similarly situated, would be required to disqualify himself or herself.
Rule 1.11. Authority.
The Board shall have the authority to (1) propose rules of procedure for lawyer disciplinary proceedings for promulgation by the Supreme Court of Appeals; (2) file an annual report with the Supreme Court of Appeals on the operation of the lawyer disciplinary system; (3) inform the public about the existence and operation of the lawyer disciplinary system, the filing of formal charges, and the discipline imposed or recommended on formal charges; (4) delegate, in its discretion, to the Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson the authority to act for the Board on administrative and procedural matters; (5) nominate, for selection by the Supreme Court of Appeals, candidates for the position of Chief Lawyer Disciplinary Counsel; (6) appoint an Investigative Panel of seven members, at least two of whom must be members of the public, and designate the Chairperson for the Investigative Panel; (7) appoint a Hearing Panel of twelve members, at least four of whom must be members of the public, and designate a Chairperson for each Hearing Panel; (8) appoint Hearing Panel Subcommittees of three members each, two of whom must be members of The West Virginia State Bar and one of whom must be a member of the public; (9) issue formal ethics opinions; and (10) engage in such other activities related to lawyer discipline as it deems appropriate.