In 2013, the Florida Supreme Court published Opinion No. SC13-688, “In Re: Code for Resolving Professionalism Complaints,” and directed each judicial circuit to create a Local Professionalism Panel to receive and resolve professionalism complaints informally, if possible.
At the time, the Twelfth Judicial Circuit had a Peer Review Program, an “educational, voluntary, informal, and nonpunitive program designed to correct and enhance behavioral performance.”
In 2014, in accordance with the Supreme Court opinion, the Court entered AO2014-8.2 reorganizing the Peer Review Program into the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Local Professionalism Panel (LPP).
The purpose of the LPP is to review complaints alleging that attorneys have exhibited “unprofessional conduct” in the practice of law, as defined by the Florida Supreme Court in SC13-688. The LPP also addresses less substantial or single violations, matters that had previously been addressed by the Peer Review Program.
The LPP has no authority to discipline any attorney or to compel any attorney to appear before the panel. While participation and appearance in a meeting is voluntary, it is strongly encouraged. Attorneys who are the subject of complaints will be addressed solely in an “informal, non-punitive, educational, and constructive manner.” Investigations and proceedings undertaken by the LPP and any of its subpanels are intended to be confidential and will not be disclosed to those other than parties to the matter.
The LPP is comprised of 14 local attorneys, all members in good standing of The Florida Bar, and from diversified areas of practice with at least five years’ experience. The chief judge selects and appoints members as necessary to fill panel vacancies and may seek recommendations from the voluntary bar presidents and other members of the circuit’s legal community to identify prospective members.
Anyone may initiate a written or electronically submitted complaint alleging unprofessional conduct against a member of The Florida Bar practicing within the Twelfth Judicial Circuit. Complaints for the LPP are delivered to the chief judge who will refer the matter to the LPP chair for further review.
After review, the LPP chair will either forward the matter to a three-member panel or determine that the complaint does not meet the definition of “unprofessional conduct.”
Matters referred to the panel may have one of the following actions:
The panel reports to the chair how the matter was resolved, then the chair completes the Florida Supreme Court Individual Reporting Form. If the “respondent” attorney fails to meet with the panel or refuses to complete any recommended action, the panel will refer the matter back to the LPP chair.