In 2011, in response to a lack of uniformity in the way our disciplinary system functioned, the Arizona Supreme Court adopted substantial changes which removed decision-making from the State Bar as to which disciplinary complaints should be pursued and, instead created the Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee. In addition, the Court did away with three-member, lawyer hearing panels, which previously decided disciplinary complaints and, substituted in its place, the Office of the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, which heard evidence and decided all disciplinary cases against lawyers.
In 2014, statistics compiled by the American Bar Association’s Center for Professional Responsibility, revealed that Arizona had one of the highest percentage of lawyers disciplined on a per capita basis. In that year, Arizona received 3,549 complaints and sanctioned 108 lawyers, the third highest among the states.
It is difficult to gauge the degree of dissatisfaction that may exist among members of the bar on the way our current disciplinary system functions for obvious reasons. Those who are fortunate enough to have never been exposed to it presumably have no complaints. Those who have, are either no longer around, or would rather remain silent because of the humiliation and embarrassment that public exposure of the experience carries for its victims.