Lawyer Discipline

David J. Gogal, Chair

The Standing Committee on Lawyer Discipline (COLD) oversees the attorney disciplinary process, including the bar’s investigation and prosecution of complaints.  Members of COLD monitor and review the progress of investigations and prosecutions in each of the district disciplinary committees with VSB counsel and committee chairs.  In addition, the oversight subcommittee randomly reviews case files to ensure that VSB counsel handled them in a procedurally correct manner.  In FY 2019, there were approximately 89 random reviews. Specific files are also reviewed if complainants or respondents question the handling of a case.  In FY 2019, there was only one such review.

COLD formulates and presents proposed amendments to Part Six, Section IV, Paragraph 13 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, which governs the disciplinary process.  Proposed amendments are published for comment and then presented to the Virginia State Bar Council, which decides whether to petition the Supreme Court for adoption of the changes.  In FY 2019, Council approved COLD’s proposed revisions to Paragraph 13 to improve the fairness, integrity, and efficiency of the disciplinary process.  The revisions  eliminate two “dismissal” sanctions that create a disciplinary record; clarify the procedures for dismissals de minimis and dismissals for exceptional circumstances; and enhance the transparency and uniformity of the VSB’s disciplinary process while protecting the confidentiality of medical, psychological, treatment, and other sensitive information in public disciplinary proceedings; and ensure the Rules are consistent with procedure and practice. These proposals have been presented to the Supreme Court of Virginia for consideration.

The committee is comprised of ten attorneys, two laypersons, and the first vice chair of the VSB Disciplinary Board, who serves ex officio.  In FY 2019, the committee met every other month beginning in July continuing through May.  David J. Gogal, served as chair of COLD, James W. Hundley chaired the rules subcommittee, and Beverly P. Leatherbury, served as vice chair of COLD and chair of the oversight subcommittee.

COLD hosts the annual Disciplinary Conference which is attended by attorney and lay members of the district committees, the Disciplinary Board, COLD members, and judges who sit on three-judge circuit court panels that hear disciplinary matters.  The programs at the conference are designed to provide education and updates on the disciplinary process to the volunteers serving in the disciplinary system. The FY 2019 conference was held at the Hotel Roanoke on July 26 and 27, 2018.  Attendees included 138 members of district committees, the Disciplinary Board and COLD.

Updated: Jul 08, 2019