JDPP Internal Operating Procedures
State Bar Programs / Part XIII - Judicial District Professionalism Program / JDPP Internal Operating Procedures
1. Judicial District Professionalism Program Committees.
(a) The Judicial District Professionalism Program (hereinafter "JDPP") will be comprised of committees of Board of Governors members from each of Georgia's Judicial Districts.
(b) Each Judicial District Professionalism Committee (hereinafter "JDPC") shall consist of the current members of the Board (of Governors) of the State Bar, as described in Part I, Chapter 3 of the Bar Rules and Article III of the Bylaws, from a particular Judicial District.
(c) The JDPC members for each of the Judicial Districts will select one or more State and/or Superior Court judge to serve as JDPC advisors within each district.
(d) The longest serving member on the Board (of Governors) within each Judicial District shall serve as the chair for that district unless said representative declines to serve or a majority of the JDPC members vote to have someone else serve as chair.
(e) In the event there is a tie for the longest serving Board (of Governors) representative, the JDPC will elect a chair from among the members.
(f) Each JDPC may act through panels or subcommittees if it so elects.
2. Judicial Advisors.
(a) The judicial advisors shall be selected to serve at the beginning of the State Bar year during the first JDPC meeting following the Board of Governors meeting held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the State Bar.
(b) The judge's actual involvement in counseling with members of the bench and bar will be determined on a case by case basis. In some situations where appropriate, the JDPC might determine it best for the judicial advisor to approach other judges about questionable conduct or practices without the involvement of other JDPC members.
3. Oversight of the JDPP.
(a) The advisory and oversight responsibility for the JDPP shall be vested in the Bench and Bar Committee.
(b) The Committee shall have authority to adopt additional operating procedures for the administration of the program, which are not otherwise inconsistent with the Rules.
(c) The JDPP shall operate under the supervision of the Executive Director of the State Bar.
(d) The Bench and Bar Committee shall report as needed to the Board of Governors regarding the JDPP and present recommendations regarding its continued operation or modification. Each JDPC shall furnish statistical data to the Bench and Bar Committee to assist its evaluation of the JDPC.
4. Scope of JDPP.
(a) The JDPP shall promote professionalism within the legal profession through increased communication, education, and the informal use of local peer influence to alter unprofessional and uncivil conduct.
(b) The JDPP shall not deal with lawyer/client disputes, lawyer/employee disputes, lawyer/vendor disputes, or with violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct or of Part IV (Discipline) of the Rules and Regulations for the Organization and Government of the State Bar of Georgia.
(c) The JDPP should also serve the mentor function of providing guidance in "best practices" when approached by lawyers and judges.
(d) For purposes of these Rules, inquiry shall mean any inquiry concerning unprofessional conduct, as defined herein or in any Rules or operating procedures adopted by the Bench and Bar Committee, but shall not include any disciplinary charge, ethics violation, criminal conduct, or any other matter which falls under the provisions of Part IV (Discipline) of the Rules and Regulations for the organization and Government of the State Bar of Georgia or the Code of Judicial Conduct.
(e) JDPP committees may address the following conduct by State Bar members:
Unprofessional Judicial Conduct
(1) Incivility, bias or conduct unbecoming a judge;
(2) Lack of appropriate respect or deference;
(3) Failure to adhere to Uniform Rules;
(4) Excessive delay;
(5) Consistent lack of preparation;
(6) Other conduct deemed professionally inappropriate by each JDPC with the advice of the judicial advisors.
Unprofessional Lawyer Conduct
(1) Lack of appropriate respect or deference;
(2) Abusive discovery practices;
(3) Incivility, bias or conduct unbecoming a lawyer;
(4) Consistent lack of preparation;
(5) Communication problems;
(6) Deficient practice skills;
(7) Other conduct deemed professionally inappropriate by each JDPC with the advice of the judicial advisors.
(f) Inquiries from only lawyers or judges shall be referred to the JDPP. Inquiries from clients or other members of the public shall be handled by the Consumer Assistance Program or other appropriate State Bar programs. Inquiries or requests for assistance relating to pending litigation or current transactional matters are better left to the judicial process or the negotiations of the parties; consequently, any JDPC response to such requests should generally be delayed until the conclusion of the matter.
(a) Inquiries and requests for assistance shall be directed to the Consumer Assistance Program who shall forward the inquiry to the appropriate JDPC chair.
(b) Upon receiving an inquiry, the JDPC chair shall either call a committee meeting to address the inquiry or refer the matter to a subcommittee appointed by the chair for the purpose of considering the inquiry and determining whether to approach the inquiring party and the party against whom the inquiry is addressed in an effort to resolve the matter informally.
(c) The JDPC members shall have the authority to contact and counsel the lawyer or judge involved to determine if the inquiry can be resolved in an informal method either through communications with the JDPC members or by referral to other State Bar programs including, but not limited to, the Consumer Assistance Program, Fee Arbitration Program, Client's Security Fund, Law Practice Management Program, and the Lawyer Assistance Program or to the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
(d) Each JDPC shall have independent authority to consider whether to consider and how to resolve inquiries. The JDPC may determine that certain inquiries do not merit consideration or counseling while others may warrant extensive consideration and counseling.
(e) The actions of each JDPC as they relate to a specific inquiry are confidential and shall not be reported to the inquiring party or any other person or entity.
(f) JDPC members shall follow written guidelines developed and established by the Bench and Bar Committee, with the advice and counsel of the Bar Counsel and Executive Director of the State Bar, and approved by the Executive Committee, Board of Governors of the State Bar and Executive Committee of the Council of Superior Court Judges.
6. Inquiries Involving Lawyers and Judges Outside Their Judicial District.
A JDPC may encounter or receive an inquiry involving lawyers and judges from outside their Judicial District. In such situations, local committee members receiving the inquiry should refer the matter to the JDPC chair in the district where the lawyer or judge against who the inquiry is addressed maintains his or her principal office.
Each JDPC shall maintain and report data about the types of matters and inquiries it receives and resolves to the Executive Director of the State Bar, the President of I the Council of Superior Court Judges and Bench and Bar Committee. The purpose for maintaining such records is to identify problems that can be subjects of Continuing Legal Education or Continuing Judicial Education programming and other preventive programs. Furthermore, information on the results of the JDPCs efforts will help determine the program's effectiveness. JDPC records shall be kept for statistical purposes only and shall not contain the names of any person involved in a JDPC inquiry. Only file numbers and raw statistical data shall be maintained.
8. Promoting Professionalism.
(a) The JDPC members shall establish an annual professionalism award for the member in their local Judicial District who demonstrates the professionalism others should strive to emulate.
(b) Committee members shall also promote professionalism by preparing and publishing memorial tributes to lawyers and judges in their local area who pass away during the bar year. These tributes shall be published in local bar newsletters and/or forwarded to local newspapers recognizing our deceased colleagues for their positive contributions to our profession.
(c) The State Bar Communications Director and the Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism shall work with each JDPC to help promote their activities, programs and awards.
9. Training for Judicial District Professionalism Committees.
An orientation program shall be developed by the State Bar and the Chief Justice's Commission on Professionalism for the purpose of training Board (of Governor's) members on how to handle professionalism inquiries from members of the bench and bar. The training program may be given in conjunction with a Board of Governors meeting, and subsequent programs could be given each year following the annual meeting for all newly elected Board members.
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